Social Issue Emergence on the Web: A Dual Structurational Model


Lindsay Young, Department of Communication Studies, Northwestern University, 2240 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208, Electronic mail may be sent to


In this paper, we unravel the complex ontological relationship between the empirical hyperlink networks enacted by strategic organizational actors and the epistemic issue networks enacted by decision makers who navigate hyperlinks to construct the boundaries of an issue. To conceptualize this relationship, we present a dual structurational model of issue network emergence that demonstrates the processes by which decision makers come to read and structure their comprehension of an issue out of their experience navigating a hyperlink network. We then discuss how the emergence of an issue network from a hyperlink network has consequences for both the decision makers that wish to act on the social issue and the organizational actors who create links. The model is demonstrated using the Chicago Climate Action Plan, a climate change initiative underway in Chicago, as an abbreviated case study.