Shouting on social media? A borderscapes perspective on a contentious hashtag

Benedetta Cappellini, Olga Kravets, Alex Reppel

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This article extends the concept of borderscapes to understand the role of hashtags, a social media content sorting device, in organizing public conversations on important social issues. We examine a highly contentious hashtag, shout your abortion, to unpick how a hashtag denotes the contours of diverse “the us” and “the other” positions around a contested socio-political issue. A thematic analysis of the hashtag over a two-year period reveals complex dynamics of un/doing of symbolic lines via three main mechanisms: positions, signposting terms of belonging, and re-stating normativity. Using borderscapes concept as a theoretical lens, we show that the hashtag does not merely denotes existing competing positions and dividing lines but is a fluid space, where multifarious points and lines of differentiation are articulated, contested, and consolidated. This study advances the current discussions on acculturation via social media by elaborating the notion of borderscapes in relation to hashtags, thus offering a more nuanced understanding of polarisation and partisan selectivity, the processes inhibiting the encounters with social-cultural others, which are pivotal to acculturation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-437
Number of pages10
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date14 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

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