Author: Jan Buts
This article responds to a common critique of corpus-based studies as decontextualized exercises in linguistic analysis by illustrating how, in the case of internet-based data, the concordance line can reveal rather than obscure aspects of a textual body’s cultural constitution. The data for the study consists of 100 articles of the online political journal ROAR (Reflections on a Revolution) Magazine, which has reported on global instances of public unrest and dissent since 2011. After sketching the relation between the financial crisis commencing in 2007 and the global protests that followed in its wake, the article investigates textual patterns within ROAR’s varied output. These patterns, ranging from the collocational profile of the keyword democracy to quotation practices, are shown to be constitutive of a virtual sense of community. This process of identity formation is then shown to have a mythopoetic effect, which ultimately impacts the emplotment of the various events covered and considered by the magazine. Additional attention is paid to ROAR as a cross-platform enterprise. In this respect, the fragmentary nature of the Internet is shown to both facilitate and frustrate the creation of a symbolic sense of community.