University of Jyväskylä


Language and Superdiversity: (Dis)identification in Social Media

Funding: Academy of Finland
Grant period: 2012–2016

In late modern and globalized information societies people’s everyday lives are mediated in increasingly complex ways. Shifts in media culture are reflected in the lives of different generations and social groups in various ways. For example, young people often lead media-centered lives, operating in expert and personalized ways in different media environments. Furthermore, different (sub)cultural and migrant groups can join in and contribute to the interactive social media niches adapted to their specific needs.

We investigate the ways in which linguistic and other semiotic resources are used by individuals and groups in superdiverse social media. We are interested in how the resources are used for social action and interaction, knowledge construction and cultural production; for the collaborative creation, negotiation and appropriation of a participatory social and cultural reality online and offline.

Within the framework provided primarily by discourse studies, sociolinguistics, linguistic ethnography, cultural studies and the study of multimodality:

  • we contribute to the retheorization of social media as important sites for achieving visibility, identity and voice, as well as engaging with ethnicity, belonging and forms of socio-political activism,
  • we describe and explain multisemiotic language and discourse practices in everyday and institutional social media contexts in complex and diverse late modern societies.

Our research areas include, for instance, superdiversity, multilingualism and multisemioticity as discursive, social and cultural resources, (dis)identification and communality, popular culture, youth, gender, religion, sports, music, fandoms and migration.
Key questions for our research are:

  • What opportunities and affordances for (inter)action do social media provide?
  • What are the linguistic, discursive, multimodal, social and cultural resources and practices through which activities are created, organized, and experienced by users of social media?
  • How do these resources and practices contribute to the construction and negotiation of identity, culture and communality?

Selected publications

Leppänen, Sirpa, Samu Kytölä, Henna Jousmäki, Saija Peuronen and Elina Westinen (2014). Entextualization and resemiotization as resources for identification in social media. In P. Seargeant and C. Tagg (eds.) The Language of Social Media: Identity and Community on the Internet. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 112-136.

Leppänen, Sirpa and Ari Häkkinen (2016). Buffalaxing the Other: Superdiversity in action on YouTube. In K. Arnaut, J. Blommaert, B. Rampton and M. Spotti (eds.) Language and Superdiversity. New York: Routledge, pp. 110-136.

Leppänen, Sirpa and Samu Kytölä (in press). Investigating multilingualism and multisemioticity as resources for (dis)identification in social media. In M. Martin-Jones and & D. Martin (eds.) Researching Multilingualism: Critical and Ethnographic Approaches. London: Routledge.

Kytölä, Samu and Elina Westinen (2015). “I be da reel gansta”—A Finnish footballer’s Twitter writing and metapragmatic evaluations of authenticity. Discourse, Context and Media, special issue “Authenticity, Normativity and Social Media” (eds. Janus Møller & Sirpa Leppänen). [http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2015.05.001]

Peuronen, Saija (2013). Heteroglossia as a resource for reflexive participation in a community of Christian snowboarders in Finland. Journal of Sociolinguistics 17 (3): 297-323.

Westinen, Elina (2014). The Discursive Construction of Authenticity: Resources, Scales and Polycentricity in Finnish hip hop culture. Doctoral dissertation at Department of Languages, University of Jyväskylä and Department of Culture Studies, University of Tilburg. [http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-5728-5]

Read more at the project website https://www.jyu.fi/lgsd

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