Role of The Social Media in Eradicating Corruption in Pakistan

Theoretical Framework

The Oxford Dictionary defines corruption as perversion or destruction of integrity in the performance of public duties by bribery and favor. With a description so vast, it is not possible to start exploring the phenomenon of corruption. Therefore, a simpler version articulated by Transparency International “abuse of entrusted power for private gain” is preferred (International, 2011).

During this exercise,   range of literature was reviewed, including sources of media, academia, private sector and public policy. First, the existing theoretical work on the phenomenon of corruption was examined. Second, the most prominent theories motivating participation in social movements have been briefly investigated. Third, the review of the literature has focused the role of social motivations in the context of activism against corruption. Finally, these results were related to the role of the Internet and social media in the various efforts to combat corruption.

An overwhelming debate revolves around distinguishing broadly between incidental corruption and systemic corruption (Deibert, 2000).  There is a common perception that politicians are unwilling allies in the fight against systemic corruption, being either involved themselves in the malpractices, or are amenable to acquiesce to the short term interests. Research investigating the causes of social movements and individual motivations for participation in activism offers valuable insights into the understanding of how civil society can fight corruption. “Collective action is one of the fundamental mechanisms for social and political change and is traditionally defined as any action that aims to improve the status, power or influence of an entire group”. (Fortgang, 2011).  It is appropriate here to mention that despite the fact that collective action evokes the image of mass political demonstrations, individual actions such as signing a petition, writing a complaint or sending a video footage are essential in collective action efforts as well. Two major theoretical approaches have been found relevant in the context of current anti-corruption initiatives. Deprivation theory suggests that individuals are motivated to participate in collective action if they feel deprived or excluded in a particular social context (Hasan, 2011).  This has considerable implications for the fight against corruption as the narrative of corruption itself is emotionally charged. Hence corruption is demonized as a phenomenon that perpetuates inequalities, poor governance and unjustified enrichment of elites.

The resource mobilization theory refers to the ability of groups to organize on the basis of resources available to them. McCarthy and Zald suggest that deprivation can only produce the behavior of collective protest when a group is confident of possessing the resources needed to launch a successful campaign against injustice. (Heinzelman & Carol, 2010)  Similarly, Klandermans and Oegema  (Hersman, 2011) highlight the practical obstacles to collective action, suggesting that many individuals lack the opportunity to join the social movement groups due to physical limitations and logistics. These considerations lend support to the idea that the Internet is an invaluable resource for collective action.

It has also emerged that greater access to information and the emergence of civil society are contributing to a growing intolerance for political corruption. McCoy and Heckel are of the view that a global understanding is developing against corrupt behaviors as corruption    dampens investment and adversely impacts governance (Howard, 2011).

Brinkerhoff (2000) developed a conceptual framework for the analysis of efforts to combat corruption that takes into account the particular indicators of political will and the context or environmental factors that come into play.  He contends that the framework (reproduced below) maps the growth of political will for anti-corruption initiatives.  Although not all parts of this system would apply to all contexts, the approach is useful in understanding the steps to accelerate the initiation of a national dialogue on the issue of combating corruption. The media and social Internet could serve as the main tool to facilitate that process today, to address the growing concern over corruption and poor resources of the traditional collective action.

Statement of Problem

The following statement of problem has been formulated to systematically analyze the issue.

“The social media has the potential of playing a pivotal role in eradicating corruption in Pakistan”.

In order to gauge the effectiveness of social media its role in curbing corruption in other countries, especially developed ones, would be examined. Another touchstone would be to ascertain whether social media technologies are available to the people of Pakistan to help them launch a movement against corruption in Pakistan.

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