Discussing the other in online news comments : A cross-cultural perspective



Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description This paper deals with verbal interaction between users of online news discussion forums in the context of the recent migration crisis in the European Union. Adopting the perspective of cognitive pragmatics (Cap 2013) and the positioning theory (Davies and Harré 1990), it looks at how the readers use their comments to construct and articulate their collective membership in specific ingroup(s) (van Dijk 1998), doing so in highly evaluative terms. Based on a corpus of approximately 4,000 comments obtained from popular mainstream online news sites, the analysis shows how two different cultural communities – those of British and Czech readers – navigate the space of online comments to discursively construct various in- and out-groups that are in multiple mutual oppositions. The analysis of key words related to self and other-representation reveals that the two communities assign different meaning to the same extralinguistic phenomena (migration crisis; the ‘other’): the strong anti-other rhetoric in the Czech comments contrasts with the feeling of being let down by local politicians in the British data. The research shows that online comments have an important ideological and political dimension. A close textual and contextual reading of the comments can reveal how the macro-level of social practice (Fairclough 1992) is organized, with the cross-cultural approach being capable of revealing subtle but salient differences between various communities (Chovanec and Molek-Kozakowska 2017).
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