Socio-Political Crisis and the Language of the Media: The Case Study of Russian "Snow Revolution"

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:50 AM
Room: Booth 62
Oral Presentation
Elena YAGUNOVA , St.-Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia
Lidia PIVOVAROVA , University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Irina KRYLOVA , St.Petersburg State University, Russia
Galina SHCHEKOTOVA , St.Petersburg State University, Russia
This paper is devoted to the analysis of the Russian Media during the "Snow Revolution": the period of a political crisis in Russia between December_2011 and March_2012. The falsification during the parliamentary elections caused numerous demonstrations and street actions, which continued till the presidential elections.

The social networks played undoubtedly important role at that time: as a source of information, as a mean of mobilization and as an environment for the discussion and reflection. As a consequence, several recent studies of the "Snow Revolution" have been focused on social networks, such as Twitter or Facebook.

Unlike these previous studies, this paper is focused on more traditional sources, such as newspapers, information agencies and news feeds on the Web. We address two interrelated research questions: first, how the socio-political crisis affects the content and language of the Media, and, second, to what extent their view of the events represents the public opinion.

To answer these questions we use various types of evidence. First, we collect large corpus (52 millions tokens) of Russian news, published both during the "Snow Revolution" and before this period; we automatically extract the statistically significant keywords that characterize the investigated period. Second, we conduct the experiment among 104 informants who were asked to recall words and phrases that they associate with the "Snow Revolution".

We compare the results of these experiments and discover the correspondence between the news and the survey responses; this demonstrates that the traditional news still have an impact in mind-shaping of certain strata of people. We compare our results with the dictionary of neologisms collected by FaceBook users and post-edited by professional linguists, and come to an idea that a self-reflection of the social networks users not necessary represents the real processes in language and society.