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Affiliation in social media

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Michele Zappavigna
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The drive to make our discourse readily findable by others has become a prominent social process, realised by a range of online communicative practices associated with social media. A key semiotic resource integral to microblogging is the hashtag, a form of social tagging that allows microbloggers to embed metadata in posts. This 'conversational tagging' (Huang, Hornton, & Efthimiadis, 2010) supports forms of ambient communion that arise out of the ability to find what other people are talking about in quasi-'real-time'. While popularly thought of as topic-markers, hashtags are able to construe a range of complex meanings in social media texts. This paper uses Halliday's (1978) concept of linguistic metafunctions to explore how hashtags enact three simultaneous communicative functions: marking experiential topics, enacting interpersonal relationships, and organizing text. Corpus-based discourse analysis of patterns in a specialized corpus of tweets about Schapelle Corby at the time she was released on parole from an Indonesian prison, is used to explore these linguistic functions and how they enact social processes of 'ambient affiliation' (Zappavigna, 2011, 2012).
Michele Zappavigna
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Zappavigna, M. (2021). Ambient affiliation in comments on YouTube videos: Communing around values about ASMR. Journal of Foreign Languages. 44(1), 21-40.
Michele Zappavigna
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Michele Zappavigna
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This chapter explores the language of microblogging by focusing on discourse produced via Twitter, a popular microblogging service. In the first section I consider microblogging as a semiotic practice, trace its historical development and investigate the interdisciplinary research into this form of communication. My focus will be on linguistic work in the areas of pragmatics and discourse analysis which explores the dominant communicative conventions that have arisen via Twitter, such as retweeting and hashtagging. I will then turn to the social concept of what Zappavigna (2012) terms ‘searchable talk’, i.e. discourse which renders opinion and sentiment readily findable through resources such as social tagging. The chapter concludes by suggesting the important role that ambient affiliation plays in microblogging by forging communities through negotiating values, an issue to which I will return in my chapter on evaluation in social media (cf. Ch. 16, this volume).
Michele Zappavigna
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Social metadata is an important dimension of social media communication, and closely associated with practices such as curating, tagging, and searching content. This article explores how hashtags are used to coordinate and accentuate the values construed in a corpus of Twitter posts (tweets) about depression. In other words, it explores how people use hashtags as a resource to 'convoke' communities of feeling around values realised as ideation-attitude couplings. The aim is to extend work on dialogic affiliation (Knight, 2010a, 2010b, 2013) in order to account for 'ambient' affiliation via social media, where participants do not necessarily interact directly. We employ a discursive system, communing affiliation, to interpret how particular values about depression are positioned as bondable in this ambient environment. The focus is on understanding how people are forging alignments and negotiating meaning through social tagging practices.
Michele Zappavigna
added 5 research items
Social Media is fast becoming a key area of linguistic research. This highly accessible guidebook leads students through the process of undertaking research in order to explore the language that people use when they communicate on social media sites. This textbook provides: An introduction to the linguistic frameworks currently used to analyse language found in social media contexts An outline of the practical steps and ethical guidelines entailed when gathering linguistic data from social media sites and platforms A range of illustrative case studies, which cover different approaches, linguistic topics, digital platforms, and national contexts Each chapter begins with a clear summary of the topics covered and also suggests sources for further reading to supplement the initial discussion and case studies. Written with an international outlook, Researching Language and Social Media is an essential book for undergraduate and postgraduate students of Linguistics, Media Studies and Communication Studies. See https://www.routledge.com/products/9780415842006 for further details.
This article explores how language is used to build community with the microblogging service, Twitter (www.twitter.com). Systemic Functional Linguistic (SFL), a theory of language use in its social context, is employed to analyse the structure and meaning of ‘tweets’ (posts to Twitter) in a corpus of 45,000 tweets collected in the 24 hours after the announcement of Barak Obama’s victory in the 2008 US presidential elections. This analysis examines the evaluative language used to affiliate in tweets. The article shows how a typographic convention, the hashtag, has extended its meaning potential to operate as a linguistic marker referencing the target of evaluation in a tweet (e.g. #Obama). This both renders the language searchable and is used to upscale the call to affiliate with values expressed in the tweet. We are currently witnessing a cultural shift in electronic discourse from online conversation to such ‘searchable talk’.