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Mapping polylogical discourse to understand (dis)information negotiation: the case of the UK Events Research Programme

Musi, E., O’Halloran, K., Carmi, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-1108-2075 , Humann, M., Jin, M., Yates, S. & Pal, G. Mapping polylogical discourse to understand (dis)information negotiation: the case of the UK Events Research Programme. In: Maci, S., Demata, M., Seargeant, P. & McGlashan, M. (Eds.), The Routledge Book of Discourse and Disinformation. . Routledge.


The advent of the Networked Society has radically changed the (dis)information ecosystem. A major aspect is that digital technologies and platforms have enabled new participatory models of news production, such as citizens’ journalism (Allan and Thorsen 2009), where citizens are both news producers and consumers. In addition, digital media algorithms and affordances constrain the way we access, create, and negotiate information, leading to filter-bubbles and echo-chambers. Such a situation fuels media distortions including polarization and fake news. Thus, in a society where the medium is more and more the message, there is the need to make citizens active in the news gatekeeping process, exercising critical thinking when accessing, commenting and creating news discourse. This is especially important in crisis scenarios, such as the pandemic, where major uncertainties might trigger confusing official communications which, in turn, spike diverse sentiments and potential misbehaviours. As discourse analysts, to identify the roots of disinformation and prevent its genesis and propagation, it is first crucial to understand how and why discourse(s) around issues of public interest are shaped. To the latter goal, we propose in this study a scalable methodology to analyse polylogues (Musi and Aakhus 2018) where stakeholders (e.g. citizens, journalists, politicians) advance various positions (news claims) across multiple venues (e.g. social media, broadcast media, discussion fora) and pinpoint potential sources of disinformation across digital media. We apply this methodology to the analysis of discourse(s) around the Events Research Programme (ERP) in the United Kingdom, which was developed to gather evidence on the reopening of events and venues assessing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and to pilot risk-mitigation measures in concert with the UK Government’s Roadmap for COVID-19 recovery. We then compare the results with those of a questionnaire that participants taking part in the live events were asked to complete
More specifically, we focus on the first phase of the ERP during which three pilot events took place in Liverpool from 15 April to 15 June 2021. The study constitutes a privileged point of view to investigate the negotiation of (dis)information because: it is centred around a topic of radical uncertainty (is it safe to reopen large event?); it has been announced and advertised in a constrained period, thus allowing for a comprehensive data analysis; and it is geolocated, thus catalysing reactions from local to national communities.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge Book of Discourse and Disinformation, available online:
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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