This article explores the development of a social-political discussion on everyday sexism in Germany, labelled ‘#aufschrei’ (German for ‘outcry’), that started as a small Twitter conversation and evolved into a nationwide debate within 24 hours. After discussing the relationship of social actions, social networks, and interlinked digital objects in the construction of networked publics, the authors propose to understand #aufschrei as an ‘ad hoc’ public—a communication sphere evolving around a shared topic within the spaces of the networked public sphere. Applying both computational research approaches and traditional content analysis to a large set of Twitter data, the authors reconstruct the dynamics of the debate in relation to concepts of horizontal and vertical segments of the public sphere. The conclusion calls for a theoretical reevaluation of how those concepts can be applied to networked publics, and for an increased research effort to develop comprehensive methods for visualizing or objectifying networked publics.
Pre-print Version of an article to be published in the European Journal of Communication (accepted 14 February 2014). Please cite the journal paper as soon as it is published. Authors: Axel Maireder and Stephan Schlögl
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