Exploring Online Perceptions of Justice in Large-Scale Infrastructure Projects : Temporal Patterns, Sentiment Characteristics, and Topic Changes

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Original languageEnglish
Article number05023008
Journal / PublicationJournal of Management in Engineering
Issue number1
Online published3 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


Large-scale infrastructure projects (LIPs) greatly contribute to human welfare but pose risks to diverse groups. Such imbalance in the distribution of benefits and risks will trigger public perceived justice. Meanwhile, social media make online perceptions of justice more intense and complex. Although existing studies pay close attention to online public opinion on LIPs, there is little research on online perceptions of justice in LIPs. Therefore, this study aims to reveal the temporal patterns and sentiment characteristics of online perceptions of justice. Specifically, this study encoded the data of the South-to-North Water Diversion (SNWD) project on Sina Weibo. Based on the justice theory, six dimensions of online perceptions of justice were identified, and an analytical framework of online perceptions of justice in LIPs was proposed. The results denoted that there were two main lifecycles in the propagation of online perceptions of justice of LIPs. Regional justice appeared in the construction stage of the first lifecycle, while intergenerational justice, environmental justice, and outcome justice arose in the operation stage of the second lifecycle. Among the four dimensions of distributive justice, regional justice accounted for the vast majority of online perceptions of justice in the SNWD project. Moreover, the perception of intergenerational justice increased most sharply with positive emotion. Besides, the sentiment toward environmental justice and outcome justice was negative. This study yields an analytical framework for promoting the conflict management of LIPs from the perspective of online perceptions of justice, and findings further indicate three strategies for authorities to manage online perceptions of justice in LIPs: attaching importance to public participation, strengthening the cooperation with social media platforms, and promoting compensation mechanisms for LIPs. © 2023 American Society of Civil Engineers.

Research Area(s)

  • Large-scale infrastructure projects (LIPs), Online perceptions of justice, Sentiment characteristics, Social media, Temporal patterns, Topic changes

Citation Format(s)