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Mascareno, A., Henriquez, P. A., Billi, M., & Ruz, G. A. (2020). A Twitter-Lived Red Tide Crisis on Chiloe Island, Chile: What Can Be Obtained for Social-Ecological Research through Social Media Analysis? Sustainability, 12(20), 38 pp.
Abstract: Considering traditional research on social-ecological crises, new social media analysis, particularly Twitter data, contributes with supplementary exploration techniques. In this article, we argue that a social media approach to social-ecological crises can offer an actor-centered meaningful perspective on social facts, a depiction of the general dynamics of meaning making that takes place among actors, and a systemic view of actors' communication before, during and after the crisis. On the basis of a multi-technique approach to Twitter data (TF-IDF, hierarchical clustering, egocentric networks and principal component analysis) applied to a red tide crisis on Chiloe Island, Chile, in 2016, the most significant red tide in South America ever, we offer a view on the boundaries and dynamics of meaning making in a social-ecological crisis. We conclude that this dynamics shows a permanent reflexive work on elucidating the causes and effects of the crisis that develops according to actors' commitments, the sequence of events, and political conveniences. In this vein, social media analysis does not replace good qualitative research, it rather opens up supplementary possibilities for capturing meanings from the past that cannot be retrieved otherwise. This is particularly relevant for studying social-ecological crises and supporting collective learning processes that point towards increased resilience capacities and more sustainable trajectories in affected communities.