Analysing gendered discourses online

Child-centric motherhood and individuality in Mumsnet Talk

Authored by: Jai Mackenzie

The Routledge Handbook of Language, Gender, and Sexuality

Print publication date:  April  2021
Online publication date:  April  2021

Print ISBN: 9781138200265
eBook ISBN: 9781315514857
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter offers a methodological contribution to the study of language, gender, and sexuality in digital contexts. It draws attention to the problematic task of identifying and analysing discourses in studies that focus on the discursive construction of gendered identities, and offers an approach to such investigations that is firmly rooted in feminist poststructuralist discourse theory (Baxter 2003; Weedon 1997). Drawing on my own study of Mumsnet Talk, an online discussion forum that targets female parents, I show how I have drawn feminist poststructuralist theory together with positioning theory (Davies and Harré, 1990) to closely analyse the way Mumsnet users position themselves in relation to others, and in relation to wider social forces, through their digital interactions. I promote clear explication of the means by which discourses are identified and close attention to the role language plays in discursive struggles. I suggest that the approach taken in this study is particularly effective and appropriate for the identification and analysis of discourses in busy, relatively unregulated digital contexts, which provide a space for multiple voices and perspectives to be heard.

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