Publication details

Abandoned by Elites, United by Crisis: The Rise of a Collective Identity Online

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Year of publication 2024
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

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Description During times of crisis, the level of fear may increase, leading to a greater need for identity confirmation to reduce uncertainty. People may find comfort in identifying with an ingroup with whom they share political views. While this can reduce uncertainty, it may lead to higher societal division. To gain deeper insights into how citizens make sense of unexceptional situations, we analysed online Facebook discussions related to mainstream TV news to identify common patterns across both crises. Specifically, we aimed to identify the perceived economic and social uncertainties expressed through general narratives (metanarratives) actualised during the crises in Facebook discussions about the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russo-Ukrainian war. Additionally, we aimed to explore whether and how populist narratives are reflected in the comments. Our study focused on the public Facebook pages of two major Czech TV stations, the ČT24, a public service broadcaster, and TN.CZ, a commercial media platform. We collected data during the first wave of each crisis and one year after. We have selected seven top-performing Facebook posts related to crisis per discussion arena and a time slot for each crisis, sorted comments with the highest engagement and coded 30 relevant comments on each FB post. We analyzed 1,680 comments using the grounded theory's open and axial coding procedures. Preliminary findings indicate that certain repetitive metanarratives are used to distinguish between “us”, a collective identity created in the discussions, and “them”, such as the government abandoning its people, leaving them to fend for themselves. Although solidarity was evident during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, people became increasingly critical of the measures taken as the pandemic progressed. The implications of these repetitive narratives for policymakers regarding crisis communication are further discussed
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