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Emergent Twitter publics through political scandal: an example from the Covid-19 crisis in the UK

Smith, Angela, Higgins, Michael and Rathnayake, Chamil (2023) Emergent Twitter publics through political scandal: an example from the Covid-19 crisis in the UK. Journal of Language and Politics, 22 (4). ISSN 1569-2159

Item Type: Article


This study examines how emergent Twitter publics are organised and engage with political scandal and personalisation during Covid-19 in the UK. The analysis is centred on a series of media events around Chief Adviser to the then-UK Prime Minister, running from May 2020 to May 2021. The samples comprises original tweets that contain key hashtags, amounting to 38,326 items. These are subject to topic model analysis to identify semantic fields, before using critical discourse analysis. We find hashtags help constitute emergent Twitter publics, and that tweets follow conversational patterns and conspire in tactics of intertextuality. Dissention to government conduct engages resourcefully with the affordances of Twitter: constituting publics, shaping discourse, and articulating with parallel discussions on political performance. Further, a computational approach can systematise the identification of domains of discourse and relevant lexical sets, providing an evidence-based understanding of even novel and emergent political discourses in online discussion.

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Depositing User: Angela Smith


Item ID: 15678
Identification Number:
ISSN: 1569-2159
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Angela Smith: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2023 12:16
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2024 11:23


Author: Angela Smith ORCID iD
Author: Michael Higgins
Author: Chamil Rathnayake

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Media and Communications


Culture > English Language and Literature

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