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‘Whose context collapse?’: Ethical clashes in the study of language and social media in context

‘Whose context collapse?’: Ethical clashes in the study of language and social media in context Abstract The longstanding tradition of the examination of language and discourse in context has not only spurred the turn to issues of context in language and new media research but it has also led to numerous methodological and analytical deliberations, for instance regarding the roles and nature of digital ethnography and the need for an adaptive, ‘mobile’ sociolinguistics. Such discussions center around social media affordances and constraints of wide distribution, multi-authorship and elusiveness of audiences which are often described with the term ‘context collapse’ (Marwick and boyd 2011; Wesch 2008). In this article, I argue that, however helpful the insights of such studies may have been for linking social media affordances and constraints with users’ communication practices, the ethical questions of where context collapse leaves the language-in-context analysts have far from been addressed. I single out certain key challenges, which I view as ethical clashes, that I experienced in connection with context collapse in my data of the social media circulation of news stories from crisis-stricken Greece. I argue that these ethical clashes are linked with context collapse processes and outcomes on the one hand and sociolinguistic contextual analysis priorities on the other hand. I put forward certain proposals for resolving these clashes arguing for a discipline-based virtue ethics that requires researcher reflexivity and phronesis. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Applied Linguistics Review de Gruyter

‘Whose context collapse?’: Ethical clashes in the study of language and social media in context

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by the
ISSN
1868-6303
eISSN
1868-6311
DOI
10.1515/applirev-2016-1034
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract The longstanding tradition of the examination of language and discourse in context has not only spurred the turn to issues of context in language and new media research but it has also led to numerous methodological and analytical deliberations, for instance regarding the roles and nature of digital ethnography and the need for an adaptive, ‘mobile’ sociolinguistics. Such discussions center around social media affordances and constraints of wide distribution, multi-authorship and elusiveness of audiences which are often described with the term ‘context collapse’ (Marwick and boyd 2011; Wesch 2008). In this article, I argue that, however helpful the insights of such studies may have been for linking social media affordances and constraints with users’ communication practices, the ethical questions of where context collapse leaves the language-in-context analysts have far from been addressed. I single out certain key challenges, which I view as ethical clashes, that I experienced in connection with context collapse in my data of the social media circulation of news stories from crisis-stricken Greece. I argue that these ethical clashes are linked with context collapse processes and outcomes on the one hand and sociolinguistic contextual analysis priorities on the other hand. I put forward certain proposals for resolving these clashes arguing for a discipline-based virtue ethics that requires researcher reflexivity and phronesis.

Journal

Applied Linguistics Reviewde Gruyter

Published: May 24, 2017

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