The Influence of Social Media Interactions on Perceptions of and Attitudes Toward Mexican Gray Wolves
AuthorWaters, Kaycie Marie
AdvisorMars, Matthew M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractMany socio-political issues arise when predators are reintroduced into areas that are concurrently used by ranchers. This is especially true for the endangered Mexican gray wolf in eastern Arizona. While the socio-political issues are well documented, there is a gap in understanding of what influences the formation of ranchers’ perceptions of and attitudes toward Mexican gray wolves and their reintroduction. My study explores how social media and interactive communication influence ranchers’ perceptions of and attitudes toward this topic. I theoretically frame the study with the three value-types of online communities identified by Seraj (2012). These value types are: intellectual value, social value, and cultural value. A qualitative, ethnographic design is used to discover how ranchers’ perceptions and attitudes are formed in relation to the wolf reintroduction. Seraj’s value-types provide insights to how interactive communication among ranchers influences their views of predator reintroductions. Analysis of data collected through interviews, online community observations, and documents, reveals political value as a fourth value type that contributes to interactive communication. Ranchers’ experiences with government agencies heavily influences their views on government projects. Cultural value, however, tends to have the most influence on how information is received via online communities. This creates a cultural vacuum, where the expression of outside views leads to defensive discussion that maintains and strengthens the culture of the community rather than foster its refinement and evolution. The use social media as a way to communicate information is rendered ineffective if the information shared is not in line with the online community culture. Instead, wildlife managers can more effectively communicate with this important stakeholder group by engaging in personal, individual communication with members of this group. Wildlife managers can turn to online communities to prepare for this in-person communication.
Degree ProgramGraduate College