Constructing a European Culture of Gender Equality on Social Media: European and National (mis)Allignments
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This project analyzes the narratives of gender equality circulated on the social media platform Twitter by a sample of gender equality institutions, women’s rights activists, LGBTI rights activists, and private users over a year-long timespan (1 September 2016 – 31 August 2017). My aim is to analyze ‘gender equality’ as an object of knowledge constructed in the sampled discourses. The data is sampled across the supranational-national divide, with part of the sample referring to the supranational level of ‘Europe’ and part of the sample referring to a national case study on Italy. My analysis adopts the framework of Social Media – Critical Discourse Studies and takes inspiration from different (de)constructivist approaches across the social sciences. Findings are as follows. I interpret Twitter users as subjects of discourses and practices that take place beyond Twitter as a platform and shape their narratives and subject position therein. Gender equality emerges as an object of knowledge in the discursive contestation between their narratives. Gender equality is often defined in ‘neoliberalized’ terms that make it a non-political goal that is instrumental for the achievement of economic growth. This vision is resisted by a more progressive counter-narrative that defines gender equality through a set of value-based arguments for its achievement. In this contexts, ‘Europe’ is constructed as a socio-political space characterized by a commitment to gender equality that is, however, grounded in market-based justifications. By comparison, gender equality seems to be far more politicized at the Italian national level.
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