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Van waarheidsvinding naar evaluatie: Een discursief-psychologische analyse van geruchtvorming op Twitter over de overval op een juwelierszaak in Deurne

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Abstract

From truth finding to evaluating practices: A discursive psychological analysis of the construction of Twitter rumour related to a robbery of a jewellery store in the Netherlands In this study, the construction of rumour on Twitter during a specific crisis is analysed from a discursive psychological perspective. This perspective treats psychological concepts such as identities as discursive constructions. The selected case is the robbery of a jewellery store in Deurne, a village in the Netherlands. The jeweller’s wife was said to have shot two of the robbers. Although this fact was not officially confirmed, people used particular discursive strategies to present the act of the jeweller’s wife as factual, which influenced the way the media reported on this case, as well as the reaction of the prosecutor, which was described as premature. Four dominant discursive patterns were detected, that is: normalizing the act, evaluating the act, upgrading the act and anticipating on the consequences of the act. Furthermore, it is demonstrated how critical tweets, displaying a concern for nuancing the overall tendency of the tweets, were designed in a way that downplayed their overt critical character. Implications of the analysis for crisis communication professionals are discussed.

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Purpose The purpose of the paper is to describe the ways in which people use language to achieve mobilization. Recognizing and anticipating the discursive practices that are used online, for instance for mobilization, increasingly is a primary concern for professionals in crisis communication or issue management. Design/methodology/approach A discursive psychological perspective is drawn upon to conduct a qualitative analysis of the interactional and rhetorical features of mobilization on two Facebook event pages, and to discover patterns of talk. Findings Three dominant discursive patterns were identified: disputing the integrity of authorities, constructing a positive atmosphere and a feeling of “togetherness” and constructing decisive identities. These activities play an important role in mobilization and are accomplished by the use of language. Furthermore, it demonstrates that mobilization involves the concern of not overtly presenting oneself as a victim or activist. Research limitations/implications Insights into the discursive strategies people use to achieve mobilization are important for recognizing these discursive phenomena during media monitoring. The analysis presented in this paper does not allow the authors to draw general conclusions nor the success of the strategies in terms of the actual events. Practical implications The study offers important insights for communication professionals (for instance, in the domain of crisis communication), enabling them to recognize mobilizing practices in other contexts and designing an adequate response. Social implications The study exposes those issues that are important for mobilizing a community and creating public engagement. Originality/value In addition to other studies on the role of language in mobilization, the current study adds a perspective that takes into account both the rhetorical and the interactional features of mobilization. Furthermore, the findings are implemented in a training for professionals in the domain of crisis communication.
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