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  • 2019petykophd

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The discursive construction of trolling on British and Hungarian political blogs

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Unpublished
Publication date2019
Number of pages321
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This thesis looks at how users construct trolling as a negatively marked communicative behaviour and troll as a behaviour-based identity in their comments on British and Hungarian political blogs, thus focusing on the users’ metapragmatic discourses on online trolling. The main aim of the thesis is to identify the perceived actions, motives, and aims that users associate with trolling in their comments. The thesis is also concerned with how these actions, motives, and aims affect the ways in which trolling is depicted and trolls are portrayed in the users’ comments.
To answer these questions, the thesis presents a corpus-based analysis of 6,129 British and 1,118 Hungarian comments in which users call someone a troll or refer to someone’s behaviour as trolling or trollkodás. These comments were collected from 1,713 British and 519 Hungarian comment threads, which were posted on 27 British and 28 Hungarian political blogs in 2015.
The thesis observes that British and Hungarian commenters attribute the same four activities, five motives, and six aims to the alleged trolls. The perceived trolling activities include spamming, ignoring or withholding information, flaming, and dishonesty, which in total cover sixteen specific actions. The trolls’ perceived motives comprise various emotional, mental health-related, and social reasons, financial gain, political beliefs, being employed by a political body, and unspecified political affiliation. Finally, the trolls’ perceived aims involve diverting others’ attention, triggering unpleasant emotions, eliciting responses, provoking conflict, misleading or confusing others, and disrupting the ongoing discussion. The analysis also shows that, although users construct trolling and trolls in many different ways, trolling is generally conceptualised as a non-normative and manipulative behaviour while trolls are portrayed as bad debaters and uncooperative troublemakers.