The language of social media

Authored by: Tereza Spilioti

The Routledge Handbook of English Language Studies

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138913455
eBook ISBN: 9781351001724
Adobe ISBN:


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What is social media and how can we study them from a language perspective? This chapter addresses this question by offering a critical review of current research on the language of social media and pointing to the area’s developing agendas. It starts with a critical discussion of current definitions of ‘social media’ and places current studies in the context of previous research on digital language, discourse, and communication. It shows how the area has been developing along two inter-related research trajectories: language and social variation, on the one hand, and language and social practices, on the other. Issues of self-presentation, identity and community remain central in both trajectories and are, therefore, critically revisited in light of current debates in the field of language and social media. The chapter concludes with points of contention in social media research methods and sees future directions converging towards critical and ethical issues, such as privacy, surveillance, platform design and ideologies.

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