#BlackLivesMatter and hashtag activism in a critical discourse analysis perspective

D'Ambrosio, Angela (2019) #BlackLivesMatter and hashtag activism in a critical discourse analysis perspective. Bologna: Centro di Studi Linguistico-Culturali (CeSLiC) e Alma Mater Studiorum, Università di Bologna. AlmaDL, p. 45. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsacta/6177. In: Quaderni del CeSLiC. Occasional Papers A cura di: Miller, Donna Rose. ISSN 1973-221X.
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This paper addresses the linguistic strategies used by so-called ‘hashtag activism’, i.e. grassroots activism that pre-eminently takes place on social media. It specifically analyses the discursive features of #BlackLivesMatter, a hashtag and socio-political movement that emerged online in the United States to characterise the strong opposition against what is seen by many as a form of institutionalised racism, as expressed mainly by alleged police brutality. Given that the protest provoked strong counter-reactions on social-media, also the hashtags #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter – whose main objective is to delegitimize #BlackLivesMatter’s cause – are examined. The main premise of this research is that activist hashtags on Twitter work as ideological weapons serving the purposes of affiliation and group inclusion as well as polarization, exacerbating a ‘we versus them’ division, but, at the same time, encouraging the circulation of resistant or ‘counter-hegemonic’ discourses. The paper adopts a critical approach to the analysis of specific categories of language (such as agency, transitivity, lexical items, implications and presuppositions...) in a corpus of Twitter microposts, marked by the above-mentioned hashtags and retrieved from September to November 2018. The Appraisal Framework (Martin and White 2005) is also applied, as suggested in studies by Zappavigna (2012, 2018). The result is an exploration of how specific socio-political discourses are structured, contested and resisted in the context of social media and through the use of tags that are increasingly assuming a vital interpersonal function.

Document type
Monograph (Essay)
D'Ambrosio, AngelaUniversità di Bologna0000-0001-9597-3216
Critical Discourse Analysis, hashtag activism, #BlackLivesMatter, Corpus-based discourse analysis, Appraisal Framework, social media, race
Deposit date
04 Jun 2019 12:59
Last modified
06 Jun 2019 10:49

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