Affording Deliberation: Examining Political Discourse in an Online Setting
thesisposted on 2022-10-05, 17:37 authored by Robert Andrew Coles
This Major Research Paper examines the social media affordances of anonymity, voting, and discussion hierarchy on political discourse in online settings by contrasting examples of discourse from Reddit and Twitter. I begin by establishing a theoretical foundation for my paper by exploring the role of social media platforms as modern public spheres and of existing literature on the impact of affordances on discourse on social media platforms. I follow by performing a mixed-methods analysis of a series of randomly selected discussion chains from Reddit and Twitter in the form of a quantitative scoring system and qualitative analysis of the argumentation schemes utilized by users on both platforms. From these analyses, I conclude that Reddit is a more effective platform for political discourse and that the combination of its affordances of high anonymity, a voting system, and complex discussion hierarchy affords a unique communication space; a result that is largely different from what was expected based on the findings of existing literature.