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Title: Is there an online public sphere? : a critical analysis of three British mainstream news online comment forums
Author: Ellis, Louise J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 3132
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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This study focuses on reader comments within three British mainstream news online comment forums, the BBC’s World Have your Say, The Daily Mail’s RightMinds and The Guardian’s Comment is Free, to assess whether, and to what extent, these virtual spaces can be viewed as hosting an online public sphere. The sample includes 9,424 comments drawn from 78 forums between 1st May 2011 and 31st May 2012. Two theoretical frameworks are applied during data analysis comprising an initial small-scale content analysis complemented by a larger sociological discourse analysis. First, data are analysed against three of Dahlberg’s (2001a) online public sphere criteria: ‘autonomy’, ‘discursive inclusion and equality’ and ‘exchange and critique’. Second, analytical tools drawn from Bakhtinian (1986) notions of utterance, speech genres and heteroglossia are applied to the data. Key themes arising include the different levels of autonomy commenters achieve across the three news comment forums, abuse as a catalyst for participating in debates, and the importance of commenter-to-commenter deliberations. Moreover, in contrast to the rational-critical demands of public sphere discourse, intonation and more specifically Bakhtin’s (1984) notion of emotional-volitional content, demonstrates a significant presence within debates.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology