Examining Relevance Theory in One Hundred Minutes of Twitter Discourse during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution

By Phalangchok Wanphet.

Published by The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 30, 2014 $US5.00

This current qualitative, data-driven study, following an emic analytical framework within social sciences, explores how Twitterers, during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, evaluated and reacted to topics initiated by previous others, based on their tacit knowledge of topic relevance. The analysis of typed reactions to topics embedded in previously-posted messages can be classified into seven categories: a) inspiring, b) informing c) sympathy and support, d) inviting, e) disagreeing, f) inquiring, and g) complaints (including criticizing and blaming) according to their intended functions. In addition, posts that are medium-related and topically irrelevant have been identified. At first glance, all Twitter posts should have seemed relevant to the main topic initiated and maintained; however, a close analysis of the topics being reacted to and responded to by other Twitterers reveals that the issues of relevance/irrelevance were dealt with differently from those exercised in face-to-face communication. In addition, the analysis points out that the context influencing participants’ topic judgment includes not only the topic or the purpose of the moment-by-moment exchange, but also the constantly changing real-world situation. The former is considered internal, while the latter external; both define topic relevance.

Keywords: Twitter, Conditional Relevance, Emic Perspective, Topic Relevance

The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies, Volume 13, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 30, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 699.132KB)).

Dr. Phalangchok Wanphet

Lecturer, Department of Language Studies, School of Liberal Arts, KMUTT, Tungkaru, Bangkok, Thailand