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LRDG: The discursive construction of communities in social media

Date: 12 March 2013 Time: 1 - 2 pm

Venue: C89, County South

Caroline Tagg, University of Birmingham, will be speaking on:

On social media, which is predicated on notions of connectedness and the establishment of social networks, acts of alignment are very much to the fore, and affordances for realising and displaying connections with others are built into the infrastructure of the applications people use to communicate. A long tradition of research into new media communication has focused on determining the extent to which users exploit such structural affordances to form 'virtual communities', which may or may not be judged to meet the prerequisites of offline communities (i.e. a shared set of cultural references, a regular pattern of interaction, some sense of belonging). In this talk, however, I am interested less in the structural elements of community formation, or the extent to which online communities compare to offline ones, and I focus instead on the ways in which social media users imagine and discursively construct online communities.

Drawing on examples from my own research, as well as that of other researchers, I will outline how social media facilitates different types of social organization - around shared interests, ambient affiliation (Zappavigna 2010) and/or the extension of offline groups - and how particular patterns of group interaction develop as a result. Reflection on the nature of these online communities raises questions over the consequences for the way people communicate via social media.

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: David Barton (Linguistics and English Language)

Organising departments and research centres: Educational Research, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Digital literacies, Social media


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