1er Seminario Internacional sobre el Discurso en Twitter

Ruth Breeze

Universidad de Navarra

Aggression in social media: an affective-discursive approach

In this talk I develop the concept of affective-discursive practices (Wetherell, 2015, Breeze, 2019) and explain how this approach is useful to analyse aggression and hate in social media.

After a brief introduction to affect and emotion, with a focus on the central role of affective-discursive practices in understanding collective affective activity and the circulation of emotion, I focus on the concepts of hate speech and aggression, with a view to exploring how discourse analysts can shed light on these phenomena. I examine three recent case studies involving conflict in social media, centring on populist politics, migration and vaccination.

After examining how politicians and interest groups themselves perform emotions in social media, I then show how they exploit their knowledge of affective-discursive practices among their supporters and the general public in order to create an escalation of aggression within the medium. In this, both the emotion and the emoter are important factors, as are the interaction effects generated within the medium. My conclusions discuss how aggression in social media is influenced by both vertical (societal) and horizontal (medium-related) factors.


Ruth Breeze is Principal Investigator of the Public Discourse Research Group at the Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra. She has published widely on political discourse, legal discourse and specialised communication. Her most recent books are Imagining the Peoples of Europe: Populist Discourses across the Political Spectrum (with Jan Zienkowski, John Benjamins, 2019), and Pandemic and Crisis Discourse: Communicating COVID-19 and Public Health Strategy (with Andreas Musolff, Sara Vilar-Lluch and Kayo Kondo, Bloomsbury, forthcoming).