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Is there a theory of justice on social media? A Rawlsian critique of social media platforms

Baylis, Dylan (2024) Is there a theory of justice on social media? A Rawlsian critique of social media platforms. Master of Arts by Research (MARes) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.105894) (KAR id:105894)


Throughout this thesis is a critical evaluation of the complex issues posed by social media platforms and their governance. I have employed the use of Rawlsian social contract theory to highlight key areas in which to form a more just society online. Firstly, this essay will introduce key theories from Rawls' A Theory of Justice, namely, the 'Original Position', the 'Veil of Ignorance', the two principles of justice being the assignment of rights and duties and the 'Difference Principle'. These will be central to formulating a basic framework in which we can analyse the matter at hand, how social media operates in society and politics. The reason for using Rawlsian contractarianism is due to its focus on egalitarianism within society. The argument of this essay is that the nature and privatisation of social media is contributing to a disparity between platform companies and users which is having an adverse effect on democracy. Next, I will assess how these principles put forth by Rawls become relevant in regard to the current state of social media platforms and companies. This includes concepts of deliberate polarisation and spread of misinformation on platforms, self-regulation of social media companies and a criticism of the position of the state in light of these issues. Modern social contract theory, revitalised by Rawls, provides the framework for a just society not only through formulating rights and liberties that are afforded to the people but also enable us to understand what the role of the state becomes.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Arts by Research (MARes))
Thesis advisor: Devellennes, Charles
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.105894
Uncontrolled keywords: social contract theory; Rawls, social media, governance, privatisation
Subjects: J Political Science
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 09 May 2024 07:16 UTC
Last Modified: 10 May 2024 13:21 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Baylis, Dylan.

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