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UCREL CRS:"GO GET A JOB YOU FAT COW!" A corpus analysis of Twitter discourses around Benefits Street

Date: 5 June 2014 Time: 2.00 - 3.00pm

Venue: FASS Meeting Room 1

Paul Baker

LAEL, Lancaster University

This talk outlines the analysis of a 1.5 million word corpus of tweets about the Channel 4 television documentary series Benefits Street. With Britain experiencing a period of fiscal austerity after two recessions, traditional media discourses around people who receive government assistance (or benefits), especially working-age people who do not work, have hardened (Baker et al 2013, Baker forthcoming). In this talk I analyse discourse from a potentially more democratic source (Twitter) in order to ascertain how people responded to the program Benefits Street. Using analysis of keywords, coupled with a new collocational network tool, three main discourses were identified, each containing distinctive uses of language and receiving different kinds of responses. I discuss some of the historical roots of the discourses found and conclude by asking whether Twitter offers hope for those concerned with disempowering discourses and inequality.

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Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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