BORIS Theses

BORIS Theses
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The affective regimes of digital discourse: A multimodal, multilingual study of language, media and gender ideologies

Jaroski, Vanessa (2020). The affective regimes of digital discourse: A multimodal, multilingual study of language, media and gender ideologies. (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

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Digial discourse is frequently framed in a technologically deterministic way that leads to a discourse of “moral panic” where digital language and digital media are held responsible for a variety of societal ills (e.g. Thurlow 2006, 2007, 2014; Tagliamonte & Denis, 2008; Vickery, 2017). Very often, these discourses of moral panic target young people, and girls in particular. As Thurlow et al. (2019, p.14) argue, digital discourse is often framed around assumptions related to gender and age, but also related to race and class. This can be seen for example in two recent news media examples taken from the BBC (UK) and 20 Minutes (France). The first is a lead from a BBC news story and focuses on “young people”: A social-media "trend" is leaving young people with genuine mental health problems "facing unfair and distressing criticism", private-school leaders say. The second is a headline from the French news website 20 Mintutes and targets “girls”: Les filles qui passent du temps sur les réseaux sociaux sont plus sujettes à la depression (girls who spend time on social media are more likely to be depressed). I situate the current thesis against the backdrop of such ideologically-charged news discourses. I am particularly concerned with metadiscursive comments related to media ideologies (Gershon, 2010c), or people’s beliefs about the different media they use, these media effects on users, as well as the ways in which users’ beliefs are shaped by deep-seated social and cultural ideologies such as those concerning gender. By examining the “cultural discourses” (i.e. public discourses) and “social meanings” (i.e. embedded practices) of digital media from a multimodal and a multilingual perspective, my research offers new perspectives into the field of digital discourse studies (e.g. Thurlow, 2018). In order to critically examine digital practices and the ideologies attached to them, I use a combination of approaches that fall into the broader framework of “multimodal critical discourse analysis” (cf. Machin, 2013). My thesis is organized around five chapters that investigate examples from the press (i.e. cultural discourses) and from actual users (i.e. social meanings) in order to reveal the interplay between language ideologies, media ideologies, and gender ideologies. In the end, I show the “affective” connection between the news media’s ideologies and the audience’s responses to the media’s ideologies. As Grossberg (1992, p.82-83) phrases it, “affect is the missing term in an adequate understanding of ideology”. Ultimately, I discuss the nuance in the moral panic discourses revealed in the press and among users, as users themselves also challenge what they hear and see in the news. Although many discourses are imbued with a sentiment of fear and anxiety, the “affective regimes” (cf. Wee, 2016) of digital discourse are more subtle.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Single
Date of Defense: 20 February 2020
Subjects: 400 Language
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
Institute / Center: 06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
Depositing User: Hammer Igor
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2020 17:45
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2020 17:45

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