Identifying social reform opportunities from transgender Twitter using corpus-driven socio-cognitive political economy analysis

Webster, Lexi (2020) Identifying social reform opportunities from transgender Twitter using corpus-driven socio-cognitive political economy analysis. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

[thumbnail of 2020websterphd]
Text (2020websterphd)
2020websterphd.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 17 November 2025.

Download (3MB)


This thesis posits a novel method for engaging with the cultural turn in political economy that explicitly recommends feasible strategies for social reform and development. I combine socio-cognitive critical discourse studies and political economy analysis to provide a replicable interdisciplinary research strategy. I argue that this combination enables researchers to convert critique into reform recommendations that can feasibly be implemented in existing structural conditions. To exemplify the approach, I situate my research within the context of ongoing antagonism over the recognition of transgender identities on Twitter. There has been a recent proliferation of research and discussion on the issue, much of which highlights the contributory role of social media. I aim to determine potential causal explanations for the ongoing issue and identify opportunities for social development. The data analysis is a two-part process. Initially, secondary data are used to contextualise the existing structural conditions of political economies in the global West. The primary data – a corpus comprising 3,700,000 tweets from 2,882 transgender Twitter users – are then analysed using both quantitative corpus linguistic techniques and qualitative linguistic tools to explore the ideological structures of transgender Twitter. Findings from the two stages are cross-referenced to identify potential causal mechanisms for the ongoing antagonism over transgender recognition on Twitter and to determine potential reform strategies. This thesis contributes to both the field of critical linguistics and efforts towards transgender socio-legal recognition. For the latter, I recommend feasible reform strategies that may lead to an incremental decrease in antagonism. This framework can also be replicated and applied to other contexts of social inequity in order to manifest the aim of critical linguistics research to effect social change.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
18 Nov 2020 12:49
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:34