Semiotic resources and argumentative strategies in tweets about political TV shows in Chile

Ibarra Herrera, Daniela and Unger, Johann (2020) Semiotic resources and argumentative strategies in tweets about political TV shows in Chile. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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The main aim of this research is to explore the argumentative and semiotic resources used in tweets related to political TV shows in Chile in 2016. To achieve this, I carried out a qualitative investigation that incorporates principles from critical discourse studies (Wodak & Meyer, 2016) for the analysis of the resources employed by Twitter users to present their political views in this type of digital media. Previous studies in political discourse and social media (KhosraviNik & Unger, 2016; KhosraviNik & Zia, 2014), and specifically the discourse-historical approach (Reisigl & Wodak, 2016), have proved to be particularly useful to explore the argumentative strategies and semiotic resources involved in the discourse on political issues in different media. This research focuses on tweets about five Chilean political TV shows which encourage their audiences to extend the debate in a social media environment, showing hashtags and tweets. The data set comprises 39,684 hashtagged tweets from three months at the beginning, middle and end of the televised season. In the first stage of this research, I identify topics and diverse semiotic features in the whole data set. Among the topics identified in the data collection, those related to ethical concerns are the most frequent, alongside tweets related to public figures and institutions. The semiotic resources found in the data set were classified into overarching semiotic categories of verbal, visual and hypertextual. In the second stage, I analysed the interaction patterns present in the data and argumentative resources in a sample of tweets. To describe interaction patterns, I draw on Goffman’s (1981) model of interaction. I found that users addressed a wide variety of actors, not only among the participants of online or televised debates, but across the public sphere. The communication among these diverse actors blurred the boundaries between and within encounters, creating a new type of interaction that I called hybrid play. Regarding the diverse argumentative strategies identified in the sample, fallacies, including ad hominem, ad verecundiam, hasty generalization and straw man, were found. The other main discursive strategies analysed were topoi. There were several realizations of the topoi of burden and responsibility, related to issues of political contingency and users’ claims for action. Also present were topoi of urgency, comparison, decency, justice, human rights and history. Despite the claims that social media can allow manifestations of hostility or uncivil behaviour in relation to politics, the analysis showed that digitally mediated debates related to television shows in the Chilean context can be seen as an expansion of the public sphere in which users can participate to different degrees in political debates, criticizing the status quo and proposing their own political agendas, thereby potentially generating new spaces for political deliberation.

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Thesis (PhD)
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22 Apr 2020 08:45
Last Modified:
15 Jun 2024 23:38