China Virus, Kung Flu, and MAGA: Countervalues and sociological fractionation on Twitter as evidenced by pro- and anti-Trump discourses in relation to Covid-19



Cooper, Paul and Lampropoulou, Sofia
(2024) China Virus, Kung Flu, and MAGA: Countervalues and sociological fractionation on Twitter as evidenced by pro- and anti-Trump discourses in relation to Covid-19. Discourse, Context & Media, 57. p. 100758.

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Abstract

This paper seeks to investigate the indexical links (Silverstein, 2003) to social values activated by terms like “covid” and “virus” in tweets from users with opposing political leanings. Our data comes from a corpus of 12,607 tweets collected in both May and August 2020. We focus on tweets containing “Trump”, as these occurred frequently throughout the corpus, to assess the ways in which Twitter users engage with discourses surrounding Covid-19 relative to the then-US President. Focusing on the local contexts of the tweets we, first, demonstrate the contrasting social values indexed by specific keywords and hashtags. We refer to these as countervalues (Bearth, 2005) that illustrate the multiple and competing valorisations of terms for Covid-19 and which lead to the reproduction of two main contrasting discourses. The first illustrates that Covid-19 is “fake”, “a hoax”, and is explicitly linked indexically with China and tends to appear in tweets by pro-Trump users. A second set of discourses emerges in opposition to the pro-Trump tweets where categorisations of the virus as fake or a hoax are described by users as moronic, links to China are described as racist, and users demonstrate an explicitly anti-Trump ideology. We conclude that the recirculation of these discourses is evidence of sociological fractionation (Agha, 2007), as we see the pro-Trump group resisting the scheme of values put forward by the anti-Trump group. To this end, we contribute to the body of research that sheds light on the participatory frameworks enabled by social media affordances.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 4701 Communication and Media Studies, 4704 Linguistics, 47 Language, Communication and Culture, Infectious Diseases, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Coronaviruses
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of the Arts
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2024 11:23
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 00:35
DOI: 10.1016/j.dcm.2024.100758
Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2024.100758
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3179434