Monthly Archives: April 2012

Conference paper: Confronting critical discourse analysis with social media

University of Leicester



In this paper, I examine some of the theoretical and methodological challenges faced by researchers who wish to approach data found in social media from a critical discourse analysis (CDA) perspective. While there is a large and continually growing volume of work in computer-­‐mediated discourse analysis (CMDA, see Herring 2008), and there have been a number of successful attempts to apply CDA in online contexts (e.g. Wright & Wodak 2006), CDA scholars have traditionally been rather reluctant to engage with new media (Mautner 2005), and CMDA scholars have not necessarily engaged with the socio-­‐political contexts of data.

When faced with ‘web 2.0’ phenomena such as social networking, crowd-­‐sourcing and participatory media, current understandings of context found in CDA are not always adequate. This is especially interesting to investigate in relation to activism and political resistance, where offline, online and hybrid practices rapidly evolve in response to political events, as could be seen in recent revolutions and political upheaval (e.g. the Arab Springs and the Occupy movement). Different technologies, which are often controlled by governing elites, are nevertheless adapted and exploited by grass-­‐roots activists to achieve their aims. Ultimately, CDA is advantageously placed, as a loose, adaptable theoretical approach rather than a rigid methodological framework, to investigate these new contexts, but it requires new tools to fully realise its potential.


Herring, S. C. (2008). Computer-­‐Mediated Discourse. In D. Schiffrin, D. Tannen, & H. E. Hamilton (Eds.), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis (pp. 612-­‐634). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Mautner, G. (2005). Time to get wired: Using web-­‐based corpora in critical discourse analysis. Discourse & Society, 16(6), 809-­‐828.

Wodak, R., & Wright, S. (2006). The European Union in Cyberspace: Multilingual Democratic Participation in a virtual public sphere? Journal of Language and Politics, 5(2), 251-­‐275.