Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Robin Cooper

Second Advisor

Ron Chenail

Third Advisor

Dustin Berna

Abstract

The World Wide Web provides us with a doorway to explore our world and access to social media; a “place” where we can keep in touch with family and friends and meet people from different cultures. Social media provides us with the ability to communicate using an Avatar, providing us with anonymity. Unfortunately, this anonymity gives people the freedom to unapologetically express their opinions, using any type of language they desire, without fear of repercussions. This study of the social and cultural implications from anonymous, unrestrained comments in a discussion thread will interest communications experts, psychologists, academics, and peacekeepers because of their interests in resolving social and cultural conflicts.

This study employed a qualitative methodology: Recursive Frame Analysis (RFA). Analysis through Goffman’s (1959) framing theory revealed that comments were made in the context of the wording and language used in this specific article and current events. Analysis of commenter demographics through social identity theory revealed that these individuals identified as being a participant in this discussion thread and 73 percent did so anonymously. Analysis of the data through critical race theory supported the six basic tenants: denial of racism, white-over-black dominance, race is manipulated for convenience, racialization to meet labor market needs, no individual has a unitary identity and voices of color can communicate matters to their white counterparts that they do not properly understand. Language that contributed to conflict and created turning points in the conversation was found to be criticism of Colin Kaepernick and historical social justice reformers.

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