A sociolinguistic study of liking, Commenting, and other reactions to posts
While this investigation provides a linguistic analysis of audience behaviors on Facebook, the findings are of relevance to discourse in the context of many social-networking sites. This is because of the uniformity of basic responsive options across such sites: an automatic "like"-like feature, a space to Comment, or the option to express a reaction outside of the responsive space designated by the platform. I combine ethnographic methods of data collection with the goals and analytical units of interactional sociolinguistics and conversation analysis to show the influences on members' reactive choices on Facebook.
Facebook's size and influence make it a particularly important site for sociolinguistic
discovery, and its foundational role in social media allows the insights from this
study to be widely-relevant. I share in Tannen and Trester's (2013: ix) conviction that
social media "provide a new means of understanding who we are and how we connect
Published in Discourse, Context, & Media: full version here
This paper examines the sharing of an unfolding life event (the remodeling of a new house) on Facebook over time. The fact that someone might also choose to simultaneously share the same life event on a blog (as the poster in this paper does) suggests there are different goals that the blog accomplishes that Facebook cannot; on a blog, the posts are arranged both chronologically and consecutively, within the frame of the overall event. For this reason, the blog is able to tell a narrative, while Facebook can only suggest one. At the same time, Facebook has its own interactive successes over a blog: it is ideal for audience interaction, particularly for linking a narrative with people who know the protagonist. This particular type of audience is then able to help create the tellability of the narrative (it is of interest because it is a life event being experienced by someone they care about) and assist in shaping the small stories and connecting them discursively with the larger narrative that exists partially on the blog, and partially yet to be experienced.
Facework on Facebook
While the social network is still predominately based on Generation Y users, in recent years older generations have begun to create profiles and participate in the online community of Facebook. This creates a unique socialization process whereby parents are being linguistically socialized by their children on how to interact in the online network (an area not yet explored in studies of adult socialization, which have largely focused on formal institutional settings such as the work place). Studying the socialization process of older joiners to Facebook reveals how potentially off-putting acts, such as children instructing their parents to the social norms of a group, are managed through positive politeness.
Dissertation Defense: Laura West
Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 3 pm, Poulton Hall room 230
Facebook 2.0: A Sociolinguistic Study Of Like, Coherence, And Epistemic Stancetaking In Facebook Discourse
Dissertation Advisor: Heidi E. Hamilton, Ph.D.
Committee Member: Anna Marie Trester, Ph.D.
Committee Member: Deborah Tannen, Ph.D.
Please email email@example.com by Tuesday June 16 if you will attend
This investigation provides a linguistic analysis of discourse on Facebook. I combine ethnographic methods of data collection with the goals of interactional sociolinguistics and the systematic approach of conversation analysis to illuminate discursive practices on the site. Crucially, I detail the many off-screen influences on members' online interactional decisions, such as media ideologies and personal relationships, as well as the platform-specific affordances and challenges that support and problematize Facebook social interaction. I offer three analytical chapters focusing on related discursive aspects – the responsive meanings of Like, conversational coherence, and epistemic rights on Facebook – interpreting the findings in the context of the Facebook newsfeed and collapsed context (boyd 2008) audience.
I assert that the Like button is a highly nuanced discursive device, and reveal how participation frameworks specific to each post, both imagined and actual, contribute to the employment and evaluation of Like. I then inspect the construction of coherence between Facebook posts and Comments. Specifically, I demonstrate how posters draw on (near)immediate experiences for topical resources and how members create cohesive and intertextual ties with the poster's offline situation to build a coherent Facebook text. Finally, I examine the precarious act of epistemic stancetaking on Facebook. I outline how members use offline and online discourse to negotiate epistemic rights that are threatened by the site's reported actions and newsfeed and by "friends" overlapping epistemic claims.
This investigation contributes to computer-mediated communication and sociolinguistic literature by using established units of discursive analysis such as adjacency pairs (Schegloff & Sacks 1973), cohesive ties (Halliday & Hasan 1976), and first and second assessment positions (Heritage & Raymond 2005) as well as grounded frameworks such as intertextuality and epistemic rights to illuminate Facebook discourse. I hold that Facebook's size and influence make it a particularly important site for sociolinguistic discovery, sharing in Tannen and Trester's (2013: ix) conviction that social media "provide a new means of understanding who we are and how we connect through language."