Researching with Twitter timeline data: A demonstration via “everyday” socio-political talk around welfare provision

Brooker, Phillip, Barnett, Julie, Vines, John, Lawson, Shaun, Feltwell, Tom, Long, Kiel and Wood, Gavin (2018) Researching with Twitter timeline data: A demonstration via “everyday” socio-political talk around welfare provision. Big Data & Society, 5 (1). ISSN 2053-9517

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Increasingly, social media platforms are understood by researchers to be valuable sites of politically-relevant discussions. However, analyses of social media data are typically undertaken by focusing on ‘snapshots’ of issues using query-keyword search strategies. This paper develops an alternative, less issue-based, mode of analysing Twitter data. It provides a framework for working qualitatively with longitudinally-oriented Twitter data (user-timelines), and uses an empirical case to consider the value and the challenges of doing so. Exploring how Twitter users place “everyday” talk around the socio-political issue of UK welfare provision, we draw on digital ethnography and narrative analysis techniques to analyse 25 user-timelines and identify three distinctions in users’ practices: users’ engagements with welfare as TV entertainment or as a socio-political concern; the degree of sustained engagement with said issues, and; the degree to which users’ tweeting practices around welfare were congruent with or in contrast to their other tweets. With this analytic orientation, we demonstrate how a longitudinal analysis of user-timelines provides rich resources that facilitate a more nuanced understanding of user engagement in everyday socio-political discussions online.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social media analytics, digital methods, digital ethnography, narrative analysis, socio-political issues, social welfare
Subjects: L400 Social Policy
P300 Media studies
W200 Design studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Design
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2018 11:06
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 08:38

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