Exploration of Political Identity Emergence on the Internet

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Tomoaki MIYAZAKI, UCL, United Kingdom
This project is to uncover how people in a Reddit thread construct and negotiate their political identity during the discussion about the result of the UK general election 2015. According to Goffman’s identity theory (1969), identity emerges through act in a given context. Since the Internet has grown rapidly, it is worth to explore how people would act in an online anonymous context. Drawing from Goffman’s identity theory, the project conceptualises political identity as a stance to an event and explores its emergence in an online anonymous forum. The study therefore focuses on a thread discussing their reason of voting for the Conservative Party in the last general election in Reddit, a popular online anonymous discussion board in English. As an analytical method, this project employs Gee’s discourse analytical framework to explore the online discussion, with particular focuses on identity, politics, and connection in the interaction. The analysis revealed that people attempt to defend and justify their voting behaviour in the election with structuring their comments in a similar style to academic writing. However, the analysis also found there are some comments which do not follow such a well-organised structure but they are much similar to conversational style. These results suggest that anonymity of the Internet might influence on a way of users’ identity construction and allow co-existence of two contrasting organisation in their comment writing.