To tweet our own cause: A mixed-methods study of the online phenomenon "Black Twitter"

by Clark, Meredith D., Ph.D., THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL, 2014, 186 pages; 3668450


As the numbers of African-Americans with Internet access, particularly via smartphone, have grown, so have digital artifacts that point to evidence of a narrowing digital divide between Blacks and Whites in America. As Nakamura (2007) observed, race has been made visible in online social discourse. This truth is made evident in news reporting on the emergence of so-called "Black Twitter."

To date, mainstream news media texts describe Black Twitter from the perspective of the deficiency model of technology adoption among African-American users. Early media framing of the phenomenon has been met with open rebuke and disdain among Black Twitter users, who counter that "Black Twitter" is resonant of key themes of community, social movements and private/public conversation.

Using grounded-theory analysis of data triangulated from a content analysis of news media, discourse analysis of selected tweets, and semi-structured interviews with 36 unique Twitter users all collected between August 2010 and January 2014, this dissertation established a theoretical framework for exploring the multi-level community and network building process commonly referred to as "Black Twitter." The findings from this research, which present a six-step process of engagement and community-building, challenge existing theories of media use and social identity, uses the participants own narratives to describe the social construction of an identifiable, influential meta-network of communicators with the ability to impact news media coverage on Black American life.

AdviserRhonda Gibson
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsAfrican American studies; Black studies; Journalism; Web studies; Mass communication
Publication Number3668450

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