Analysing Political Discourse and Rhetoric in the Digital Age

Término das inscrições

Friday, May 25, 9:30 to 10:45, Hilton Old Town, M, Mozart II (Prague, Czech Republic)

Session Submission Type: Meeting

The digital era sees political communication circulating through networks: government information, media commentary, campaigning propaganda and citizen opinions each interact within the hybrid media system. This system offers a range of actors access to a wide audience as well as access to textual data. Our workshop focuses on four questions to explore the impacts of this accessibility:
1) has the style of discourse and rhetoric of political actors changed due to their use of digital tools?
2) has the nature of discourse changed due to open access to mass communication tools?
3) how do digital tools allow us to analyse and understand emerging patterns of discourse and rhetoric
4) can trends in citizen discourse online inform us about broader societal attitudes?

Workshop Plan

Introduction – Purpose of the workshop and framing the questions in trends in current research and practice (5 mins)
Get names and contact details of all participants (5 mins)

Mini-session one – what do we know about how political actors talk in digital environments and what form of responses do they receive – is it just incivility and trolling or can we see evidence of deliberative talk? (20 mins)
● Is it possible to study actions of political actors and citizens as independent substances or should we always consider them as ‘’relational’’ in the digital age? Is it necessary to have a ''relational approach’’ to political communication practices in the digital age (the necessity of adapting relational paradigm for political communication scholarship)?
● Do echo chambers and social media algorithms enhance or undermine relational initiatives within political communication?

Mini-session two – how do we aggregate and analyse and so make meaningful the forms of discourse that take place in digital environments? Are they always a moving target due to platform policies? (20 mins)
● Are the methodologies such as textual network analysis and discourse network analysis (Leifeld, 2013) useful add-ons to discourse analysis?
● Are network analysis methods self-sufficient, do they rely on or complement discourse analysis or do we need more innovative mixed methodologies to be able to answer our questions?

Mini-session three – what can we learn from studying online discourse. Is it society in a microcosm? Does it offer insights into underlying attitudes and beliefs (Lilleker & Bonacci, 2018)? Is it like letters to the editor, the most angry voices (Franklin, 2004)? Are social media users representative and of whom? (20 mins)
● Are political discourses today more symbolic/emotional or rational/functional/policy-based?

Future steps – is there an edited book in this? Is there a research bid? (5 mins)

Registration is part of ICA2018: attendance is free of charge.

Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Prof. Darren Lilleker ( or Mitra Naeimi (

Prof. Darren Lilleker (Ph.D.), Bournemouth Media School, Bournemouth University,UK
Mitra Naeimi, Ph.D. Candidate, Faculty of Communication, University of Navarra, Spain
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Prof. Darren Lilleker AND Mitra Naeimi