The first step of the database project has been to identify instances of online conversations that exemplified typical discourses around topics related to political discussions, social or cultural commentary, discussions around gender and human rights, entertainment etc. In collaboration with our partners, discussions were identified on popular online spaces such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. The identified discussion threads were collected and then parsed to extract the conversation content, as well as meta data such as the topic of the conversation, the number of comments or up votes a post had and so on. The result was two databases – one in English and the other in Arabic. The researchers then identified additional threads on the same online spaces, with the same topics. The resultant corpus size was ready for analysis.
Corpus-Assisted Critical Discourse Analysis (CACDA) allows for rigorous analysis of large volumes of electronically encoded data by combining conventionally quantitative corpus linguistic techniques with typically qualitative critical discourse analytic methods. In other words, it helps uncover patterns in the naturally occurring discourses among people and applies critical analysis to those patterns.
For the Lebanese corpus, the English database was further analyzed by platform. The Reddit database, had 445,861 words, while the YouTube database had 247,184 words. The Arabic database contained data from Facebook and YouTube and had 784,058 words.
Data for the Canadian corpus were sampled from reddit and Twitter. The reddit corpus of the Canadian database contains 751,667 words and the Twitter corpus contains 56,388 words.
To learn more about the CACDA approach, see Tieja Thomas’ Prejudice du Jour project here on the Someone site. This project examined how issues relating to Canadian citizenship, identity, and cultural belonging are understood and discussed among Canadian citizens within online environments. Specifically, it used Reddit conversations relating to Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values in order to understand how such sociopolitical phenomena as hate, violence, and oppression are manifested and negotiated online.
Principle investigator Vivek Venkatesh
Manager Kathryn Urbaniak
Research assistants Manasvini Narayana, Ryan Scrivens, Rawda Harb, Racha Cheikh-Ibrahim
Consultant Tieja Thomas
Developer Simon Rodier
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