The Interplay of Technological Affordances, Audience, and Context in Shaping Feminist Discourse: A Study of #Neverthelessshepersisted on Twitter and Instagram
Author ORCID Identifier
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Carol K. Winkler
Carrie Packwood Freeman
Lynée Lewis Gaillet
This dissertation investigates the interplay between technological affordances, audience behavior, and contextual factors in shaping the conversations and meanings that emerged around the hashtag #Neverthelessshepersisted on Twitter and Instagram. The study employs a mixed-method approach that leverages the complementary strengths of computational methods (topic modeling, image clustering) and qualitative research methods (visual social semiotic, critical discourse analysis) to offer a comprehensive analysis of the hashtag's evolution during the four years of the Trump administration. Chapters of this dissertation address significant facets of digital feminist advocacy, such as the impact of intersectional mobilization, the role of influential voices and embodied perspective in the conversation, and the mechanisms of meaning-making engaged by users to create collective discourse. They reconfigure the feminist rhetorical advocacy problem in the digital age by examining how women leverage the affordances of social media platforms to voice their narratives and experiences, thereby mitigating counter-persuasive forces and fostering intersectional mobilization. They also probe into the old and new double binds women encounter in the social media landscape, both disrupting traditional binds and identifying new ones specific to the digital age.
The findings reveal that the hashtag's meaning remained predominantly consistent on Twitter, while it exhibited more flexibility on Instagram, leading to a richer network of social and cultural meanings. The research underscores the importance of intersectional mobilization and demonstrates the potential of computational methods in revealing patterns and connections in textual and non-textual forms of communication, thus providing valuable insights into how digital communication technologies can be harnessed to empower women's voices and promote feminist activism.
The dissertation makes notable contributions to ICT affordances and feminist communication studies, emphasizing the importance of understanding each social media platform's unique affordances and the need for an inclusive approach in analyzing online feminist communication. It explores the concept of platform malleability underlining the significance of flexible and adaptable platforms in facilitating diverse forms of discourse that can prove particularly advantageous for activists.
Massignan, Virginia, "The Interplay of Technological Affordances, Audience, and Context in Shaping Feminist Discourse: A Study of #Neverthelessshepersisted on Twitter and Instagram." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2023.
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