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Analyzing Discourse & Interaction in Social Media: New Methodological Challenges?


19-21 mai 2019

Responsable de l'activité

Marcel Burger


Prof. Marcel Burger, UniL

Prof. Simona Pekarek Doehler, UNINE


Ruth Page (Birmingham University)

Sean Rintel (Microsoft Research Cambridge)

Christian Licoppe (Telecom Paris Tech)

Korina Giaxoglou, Open University, London



Despite the rapidly expanding body of research on «digital discourse», the nature of the relationship between interactive digital environments, and the forms of discursive actions and interactions that take place within them and around them, has barely begun to be explored. Thus far, linguistic and discourse studies have focused on issues ranging from the relationship between the affordances of digital technology and the social identities and communities that they enable users to construct (Androutsopoulos), to the emerging forms and modes of «e-language» (and sometimes concomitant concerns about their effect on language standards in other contexts: Thurlow & Mroczek 2011); from the building of linguistic e-corpora to the narrative dimensions of life-logging discourses in social media (Tannen & Trester 2013; Page et al. 2014, Georgakopoulou & Spiliotti 2017). While studies in these areas have produced significant insights into the language and the discursive & interactional practices of digital communication, and provide important focal points of reference, with this project of doctoral school, we plan to explore some specific forms of representations, actions and interactions that have seldom been addressed up to now, forms that are realized in and through digital spaces themselves, in the very places that constitute and institute social media. Using a range of theories and approaches from sociolinguistics, interaction analysis, conversation and discourse analysis, and multimodal semiotic analysis, all the contributors analyze the relationship between interactive environments and social interactions. In particular, they explore how social media users represent and construct space and place as object and context, and they address questions that include: What kinds of places and spaces are being constructed through digital communication and for what purposes? How are these relations between on line, digital and off line, concrete environments being managed in locally situated interactions? With what kind of linguistic markers and resources, and according to what stakes? In this seminar, we explore more precisely what is at stake in terms of methodology in analyzing social media discourse & interaction. Do new forms of complex multimodal discourses & interactions imply new forms of theoretical framing? Considering a wide range of digital practices and platforms, can or should they be characterized as familiar, reconfigured or emergent as compared to established off line practices (Herring 2016)? Existent practices are necessarily affected by digital, but how does the observation of these practices (ex: the practices of doing a political statement, of interviewing when being a journalist, of being checked by the police, of making a phone call, of sharing a photo book, of mourning etc.) question concepts? How does the observation lead to reconfigure (or not) methods? The seminar comprises 3 types of talks: 4 plenary lectures by renowned researchers in the field of CMDIA (computer mediated discourse & interaction analysis), a range of workshop sessions presented by doctoral students, and a final roundtable. The invited speakers discuss the epistemology of digital discourse & interaction on various platforms of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat etc.). Students present their work in two types of work-in-progress sessions: analysis sessions, in which preliminary results are discussed; data sessions, in which empirical data is submitted to close scrutiny. A final round-table is designed to critically assess the conceptual and methodological implications that ensue from the work presented during the seminar. The seminar will be of interest to students and researchers concerned with the analysis of digital discourses and interactions on social media platforms in the web 2.0.


Sunday May 19

 14h00        Welcome coffee

14h30        Opening & short bio presentation by the Guests & PhD Students

14h45        Plenary lecture:

     Ruth Page, Dept. of English Language & Linguistics, Univ. of Birmingham:

Ugly selfies: Developing a multimodal theory of self-denigration

15h45        Discussion

16h15        Coffee break

16h30        Presentation by PhD students

Tiziana Jaeggi, University of Fribourg:
When perceiving the future closer than it is – A psycholinguistic investigation of the way we talk about the future

Tatiana Smirnova, University of Lausanne:
Social and cultural event in the era of digital social networks: the case of the « Fête des Vignerons »

18h00       End-of-day discussion

-18h30       (chair: group of PhD students - A)

19h15       Dinner


Monday May 20

8h45          Plenary lecture:

Christian Licoppe, Sociology of Info & Communication Technologies, Telecom Paris-Tech.:

Hookup cultures and sequential patterns of pre-encounter electronic ‘conversations’:

The cases of Grindr and Tinder    

09h45        Discussion

10h15        Coffee break

10h45        Presentation by PhD students

Marie Lollia, University of Lausanne
Corpus-based analysis of the French and Ukrainian press about the war in Donbass : a discursive, lexical and semantic approach

 11h45        Lunch

 14h00        Plenary lecture:

Korina Giaxoglou, School of Languages & Applied Linguistics, The Open University UK

Sharing small stories of mourning online: modes of affective positioning for public participation

 15h00        Discussion

15h30        Coffee break

 16h00        Presentation by PhD students

Laetitia Gern, University of Lausanne
Political positioning on YouTube

Olivia Droz-Dit-Busset, University of Bern
Social media influencers as 'new generation' copywriters: The convergence of the social and commercial.

17h30        End-of-day discussion

-18h30       (chair: group of PhD students - B)

19h15       Dinner


Tuesday May 21

8h45       Sean Rintel, Microsoft Research Cambrige, UK

Methodological challenges in exploring discourse for designing video communication.

9h45          Discussion

10h15        Coffee break

10h45        Presentation by PhD students

                 Sabrina Roh, University of Lausanne:
The pragmatic function of the alternation between schwa and zero : the case of JE PENSE

11h15        Final round table discussion

                 (chair: group of PhD students - C)

12h15        Lunch

13h30        End of the doctoral school


Hôtel le Grand Chalet Leysin




Les doctorant(e)s devront s'acquitter au moment de l'inscription d'une somme forfaitaire de CHF 50.-.

La somme est à verser à:
2001 Neuchâtel
IBAN : CH0509000000120018738
En mentionnant (IMPORTANT!): 19610001



Délai d'inscription 12.05.2019
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