Discourse Analysis of MeToo Movement Tweets

3105 words (12 pages) Essay in Sociology

08/02/20 Sociology Reference this

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Assignment three is an exercise in conducting a trial run critical discourse analysis on forty-five tweets that responded to/took up the hashtag #MeToo. This provided an opportunity to flesh out my coding system and to see if the categories produced are sufficient to provide an illustrative answer to my research question.

Research Design

 My project is exploring sexual violence as it continues to be a social justice issue warranting serious discussion and the use of the hashtag #MeToo by survivors of sexual assault and other members of the public. In the first section, I will state the research question I am exploring through a critical discourse analysis of forty-five tweets and how this contributes to the broader social justice issue of sexual violence. The second section will outline my research design to gather evidence to provide an illustrative answer to my research question.

 My research design is influenced by Norman Fairclough’s book Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research (2004) as it references key points about conducting a critical discourse analysis. His method is conceptualized as a basket that holds many different things and my supervisor Dr. Hannah Dyer thought it to be a good fit in allowing the project to be about the themes that emerged and not about the people who produced the content. Choosing this method allows me to analyze the discourse that is being shared through the tweets.

 The key takeaways from Fairclough’s critical discourse methods are: texts have social effects which means it can either reinforce or change values, beliefs, attitudes and knowledge (Fairclough, 2004, pp. 8-9), texts are symbols of the world that can add to reaffirming and/or shifting power, exploitation and domination amongst social relations (p. 9) and the categories constructed are open to change (p. 15). Words are never neutral, they are influenced by politics, history, lived experiences and social location (McGregor, 2003).

 My guiding research question for my analysis is: in what ways have survivors of sexual assault and other members of the public responded to/taken up the hashtag #MeToo? The research design that I constructed to gather evidence to provide an illustrative answer to this question starts with the basic tools of utilizing a laptop or computer and having a Twitter account and password. From there I used the search bar to type in the hashtag #MeToo and then I copied and pasted the content of the tweets into a word document until I had a total of forty-five. It is important in this step to document the time, date and location that the collection took place because it captures the moment in time of the process. What was collected on the day and time I conducted this trial run critical discourse analysis is different from when I looked at the tweets the week prior and will vary when I look at the tweets in the future. It is dependent on what is going on in the world and is linked to what I can and cannot talk about in my project. After I collected the forty-five tweets for my analysis I needed to code them based on the categories I produced being mindful that a tweet can fall into more than one category and as such coded them with the appropriate numbers.

 Before I reached the point of having four categories to place the tweets I collected, I had read a lot of literature where I came across various themes other researchers had found studying hashtags such as, community building (Jackson, Bailey, & Welles, 2018; Linder, Riggle, Myers, & Lacey, 2016), solidarity (Gash, & Harding, 2018; Keller, Mendes, & Ringrose, 2018), shared experience (Jackson, & Banaszczyk, 2016; Keller, Mendes, & Ringrose, 2018; Linder, Riggle, Myers, & Lacey, 2016), emotional support (Bogen, Bleiweiss, & Orchowski, 2018) advocacy (Bogen, Bleiweiss, & Orchowski, 2018; Jackson, Bailey, & Welles, 2018), to name a few. From reading this literature I initially constructed eight categories and with the help of my supervisor I was able to collapse some of these categories into one another in order to make the coding process easier. The four categories that I decided upon are:

1)     One’s own subjectivity/Identity/Autobiography

2)     Community building/Shared experience/Validation

3)     News/Informational Aid

4)     Advocacy/Calling for cultural change

Below I will detail my organizational method of how I coded tweets into particular categories. For a tweet to be coded as an individual’s own subjectivity/identity/autobiography (1), the tweet will use first person pronouns such as ‘my’, ‘I’, ‘I’m’, ‘me’, as a few examples. Within this data collection this is a tweet that was coded with a (1):

Here’s my story and why im so fucked up lately. It’s scattered but im scattered. Believe me or not, blame me or whatever idc I just needed to get it out. I’m sick of stuffing this all down. ‪#MeToo‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ (@seokjiins_, 2018)

For a tweet to be coded as community building/shared experience/validation (2), the content of the tweet will make use of words such as ‘women’, ‘survivors’ and ‘her.’ Words will also be used in a plural form such as ‘human rights’, ‘women around the world’, ‘these’, ‘our’, ‘people’, ‘those’, ‘us’, ‘together’, ‘we’, to name a few examples from this data collection. Here is an example of a tweet coded as a (2):

‪#MeToo‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬#withyou ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

For the peace and human rights

of Women around the world…   

( @2o74wHNwhP7cuzT, 2018)

For a tweet to be coded as news/informational Aid (3), the content of the tweet can make use of sharing a news story that is local, national and/or global, contain information about recent media content, provide information about what is happening around the world, reference facts, share the academic work of others related to ‘me too’ and/or sexual violence, sharing events, sharing resources such as crisis call numbers, as a few instances. Here is an example of a tweet coded as a (3):

MeTooIndia

Verified account

 

@IndiaMeToo

Nov 25

More

On days following the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, here are some crucial resources that women in India can keep handy. ‪#Metoo‬‬‬‬‬

1. Shakti Shalini — 10920

2. Shakti Shalini — Women’s Shelter (011) 24373736/24373737

3. SAARTHAK — (011) 26853846/26524061

 (@IndiaMeToo, 2018)

More

For a tweet to be coded as advocacy/calling for cultural change (4), the content of the tweet can call attention to the current culture in society today, pose a question, call out the actions of another individual, reference efforts to change the current culture, share how and/or where to learn more about a particular topic, to name a few examples. None of the tweets in this data collection were coded solely as a (4). These kind of tweets were coded as falling into more than one category within this particular sample. For example, below is a tweet coded as a (1) and a (4):

I’m a teacher and I teach students to annotate text all day. I came across this song and I’m so disgusted and annoyed. Every girl, woman, boy, and man should be offended by this song. So here is my annotation for ya:

‪#MeToo‬‬‬‬‬ ‪#metoomovement‬‬‬‬‬

(@MullinsKatielee, 2018)

Below is a chart that provides a quantitative breakdown of the tweets coded as either a 1, 2, 3 or 4:

One’s Own Subjectivity/Identity/Autobiography (1)

Emotional Support/Validation/Community Building (2)

News/Information Aid (3)

Advocacy/ Calling for Cultural Change (4)

Total

5

6

17

0

28

As well as, here is a chart that quantitatively breaks down tweets coded as falling into more than one particular category:

Categories 3 and 4

Categories 2 and 4

Categories 1, 2 and 3

Categories 2, 3 and 4

Categories 1 and 3

Categories 2 and 3

Categories 1 and 2

Categories 1 and 4

Total

5

4

1

1

1

3

1

1

17

In conducting a trial run critical discourse analysis of forty-five tweets has provided me with the opportunity to see if the categories I constructed from reading various literature on studies about other hashtags, the themes identified and the discussions with my supervisor were effective in providing an illustrative answer to my research question of: in what ways have survivors of sexual assault and other members of the public responded to/taken up the hashtag #MeToo? Based off of this sample, I think the step of making note of the date, time and location that the tweets were collected make the categories strong in reflecting what is going on at a particular point in time. When I conducted this critical discourse analysis on Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 at 1:20pm, using my own Twitter account, the content of the tweets that took up/responded to the hashtag #MeToo is different from the content I found two weeks ago. The content will vary when I look at the hashtag next month or in a few months from now. In this particular sample many tweets were coded as falling into more than one category and this can vary depending on the date, time and location that the tweets are collected which is why it is so important to record it because it contextualizes the time period that the tweets were ‘tweeted.’

The extent to which this sample and my coding system has positioned me to provide an illustrative answer to my research question is that survivors of sexual assault and other members of the public utilized the hashtag #MeToo to share news/informational aid (category 3). This was shared through news stories, information, referencing facts, events related to the topic of sexual violence and/or the me too movement, to name a few examples of the content in the various tweets within this sample. This illustrates that the conversations about sexual violence and its proliferation around the world is being spread through the use of the hashtag #MeToo. This conversation is powerful in showing that the hashtag #MeToo extends the topic of sexual violence and the use of the hashtag #MeToo beyond the confines of Hollywood, women coming for all men, ‘no man’ being safe and other negative noise amongst society in relation to the backlash of using the words ‘me too’ (Burke, 2018). This practice coding illustrated both the sharing of the awareness of sexual violence and its proliferation within society. The sharing of this kind of discourse is powerful in not letting the important social justice issue of sexual violence disappear from view and keeps the conversations about it going as new instances pop up.

Twitter is a social media platform where 140-character tweets are fully public that connect to larger themes and link people through the use of hashtags to a broader conversation about a particular topic (Murthy, 2018). When tweets are ‘tweeted’ it happens instantaneously and are reflective of what is happening within society.  Due to this aspect of the social media platform the illustrative answer to my research question will also be reflective of this. In this particular sample survivors of sexual assault and other members of the public took up/responded to the hashtag #MeToo by sharing news/informational aid. The next sample that I conduct a critical discourse analysis on may provide a different illustrative answer and that is okay because Fairclough holds that the categories constructed can change as my comprehension of the content of the tweets improves (2004, p. 15). As the content of the tweets are shaped by what unfolds within society, I am open to another category emerging or the categories I have constructed to shift because I want to be able to provide an authentic answer to my research question. There are many who have been brave enough to respond to the hashtag #MeToo whether they are a survivor or not and that deserves the utmost respect.

In conclusion, this exercise in conducting a mini critical discourse analysis on forty-five tweets permitted me to provide an illustrative answer to my research question of exploring in what ways survivors of sexual assault and other members of the public have responded to/taken up the hashtag #MeToo. This sample illustrated that the hashtag was utilized to share news/informational aid as most tweets were coded as such. The categories I constructed and the answer to my research question are open to change because of the content of tweets reflecting what unfolds within society as it contributes to sexual violence as a social justice issue. Conducting a critical discourse analysis allows me to analyze the discourse that is being shared through the tweets that utilized the hashtag #MeToo and my exploration of the serious topic of sexual violence as it warrants a worthy discussion.

References

  • Bogen, K., Bleiweiss, K., & Orchowski, L.M. (2018). Sexual violence is #NotOkay: Social reactions to disclosures of sexual victimization on Twitter. Psychology of Violence. doi: http://dx.doi.org.proxy.library.brocku.ca/10.1037/vio0000192
  • Burke, T. (2018, October 29). #Metoo: A night with Tarana Burke. Lecture presented in Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario.
  • Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/brocku/reader.action?docID=199319&query
  • Gash, A., & Harding, R. (2018). #Metoo? Legal discourse and everyday responses to sexual violence. Laws, 7(2), 1-24. doi: 10.3390/laws7020021
  • Jackson, S. J., Bailey, M., & Welles, B.F. (2018). #GirlsLikeUs: Trans advocacy and community building online. New Media and Society, 20(5), 1868-1888. doi: 10.1177/1461444817709276
  • Jackson, S., & Banaszczyk, S. (2016). Digital standpoints: Debating gendered violence and racial exclusions in the feminist counterpublic. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 40(4), 391-407. doi: 10.1177/0196859916667731
  • Keller, J., Mendes, K., & Ringrose, J. (2018). Speaking ‘unspeakable things’: Documenting digital feminist responses to rape culture. Journal of Gender Studies, 27(1), 22-36. doi: 10.1080/09589236.2016.1211511
  • Linder, C., Riggle, C., Myers, J.S., & Lacey, M. (2016). From margins to mainstream: Social media as a tool for campus sexual violence activism. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 9(3), 231-244. doi: http://dx.doi.org.proxy.library.brocku.ca/10.1037/dhe0000038 
  • McGregor, S. L. (2003). Critical discourse analysis: A Primer. Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM, 15(1), 1-10. Retrieved from http://www.kon.org/archives/forum/15-1/mcgregorcda.html
  • Mickey. [seokjiins_). (2018, November 26). Here’s my story and why im so fucked up lately. It’s scattered but im scattered. Believe me or not, blame me or whatever idc I just needed to get it out. I’m sick of stuffing this all down. #MeToo [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/seokjiins_/status/1067244305524375552
  • Mullins, K. [MullinsKatielee]. (2018, November 26). I’m a teacher and I teach students to annotate text all day. I came across this song and I’m so disgusted and annoyed. Every girl, woman, boy, and man should be offended by this song. So here is my annotation for ya: #MeToo #metoomovement [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/MullinsKatielee/status/1067201846803079173
  • Murthy, D. (2018). Twitter: Social communication in the twitter age. Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2018. Retrieved from https://proxy.library.brocku.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat00778a&AN=bu.b3076369&site=eds-live&scope=site
  • WeCanA. [2o74wHNwhP7cuzT]. (2018, November 26). #MeToo #withyou For the peace and human rights of Women around the world…[Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/2o74wHNwhP7cuzT/status/1067232670613045248
  • #MeTooIndia [@IndiaMeToo]. (2018, November 25). MeTooIndia Verified account @IndiaMeToo Nov 25 More On days following the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, here are some crucial resources that women in India can keep handy. #Metoo 1. Shakti Shalini- 10920 2. Shakti Shalini- Women’s Shelter (011) 24373736/24373737 3. SAARTHAK- (011) 26853846/26524061 [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/IndiaMeToo/status/1066921296129417216

 

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