Research / Investigaciones

Ruiz-Sánchez, A. & Alcántara-Plá, M. 2019. “¿Quién es el pueblo? La exclusión de las minorías en la campaña electoral 2015 en España“, in Françoise Sullet-Nylander, Maria Bernal, Christophe Premat & Malin Roitman (eds.) Political discourses at the extremes. Expressions of populism in the Romance Speaking Countries. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press.

This research analyses the presence of traditionally marginalized social groups within the political discourse on Twitter as an indicator of the inclusive or exclusive nature of the concept of «People». To achieve this, our research has detected which groups are present in the discourse on Twitter during the election campaign of December 2015 in Spain and how the discourse is built around them. The research corpus consists of 16,306 tweets issued by the accounts of the five most voted parties (PP, PSOE, Podemos, Cs and IU) and their respective candidates. We used a Corpus Assisted Discourse Analysis (CADS) methodology, which allows quantitative and qualitative analysis in extensive corpora. Analyzing lexical selection frequencies and the semantic frames they convey, our research focuses on the study of the political exclusion of populist discourse and its low permeability in relation to minorities.

En este artículo analizamos la presencia en el discurso político en Twitter de colectivos sociales tradicionalmente marginados, como indicador del carácter inclusivo o excluyente del concepto «pueblo». Para ello identificamos cuáles están presentes en el discurso durante la campaña electoral de diciembre de 2015 y cómo se habla sobre ellos. El corpus de trabajo lo componen 16.306 tuits emitidos por las cuentas de los cinco partidos más votados (PP, PSOE, Podemos, Cs e IU) y de sus respectivos candidatos. La metodología utilizada es la propia del Corpus Assisted Discourse Analysis (CADS), que permite el análisis cuantitativo y cualitativo en corpus extensos. A través del estudio de las frecuencias y de los marcos que se comunican, nuestra investigación se centra en el estudio de la exclusión política de los discursos populistas en la Red y su escasa permeabilidad en relación con las minorías.


Ruiz-Sánchez, A. & Alcántara-Plá, M. 2018. “Us vs. Them: Polarization and Populist Discourses in the Online Electoral Campaign in Spain“. Taylor & Francis.

Polarization is one of the most frequent strategies in political discourse, and particularly so during electoral campaigns (Sinclair 2006), when political parties need to convey a distinctive profile in order to win as many votes as possible. In this chapter, we analyze the use of polarization strategies and populist discourse in the microblogging platform Twitter during a period covering two electoral campaigns in Spain: from the December 2015 campaign to the June 2016 one.

The conceptual relation between polarization and populism appears in Spain coinciding with a change to a new political cycle in the country. Forty years after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco and the arrival of democracy, there is a growing perception that it is necessary to carry out reforms in the current Constitution and in some of the agreements reached during the transition to democracy. Besides, the economic crisis, the many corruption scandals uncovered and the increasing separatist tensions brewing in Catalonia went hand in hand with the emergence of new groups with different views on the country’s needs and demands. Citizen movements such as 15-M indignados and the Platform for People Affected by Mortgage Debt (PAH) were born in this context, and became key actors in the political landscape. The so-called “emerging political parties” Podemos and C’s also arose during these turbulent times, blaming the other parties for doing “old-fashioned politics”.

It is in this context where there seems to be an increased perception of the use of populist strategies, which promote homogenizing and simplistic views of society. In fact, the European Radical Awareness Network (RAN) recently warned that “polarization is increasing in European societies, creating a fertile base for processes of radicalization through the increase of complaints, the thought ‘us against them’ and incidents that incite to hatred and violence” (RAN 2017).


Ruiz-Sánchez, A. & Alcántara-Plá, M. 2018. “Las campañas electorales en las redes sociales. El ejemplo de Twitter en España“, in El análisis del discurso político: géneros y metodologías, EUNSA.

El estudio del discurso en las redes sociales es relevante para comprender la comunicación política actual no solo por el amplio número de usuarios que estas tienen, sino también por el uso intensivo que los políticos y los partidos hacen de ellas. Un caso claro es la campaña electoral de las elecciones generales en España en el 2015. Los cinco partidos más votados y sus cinco candidatos publicaron entonces más de 16 300 mensajes en Twitter durante apenas dos semanas.

El uso político de Internet durante las campañas electorales puede ser considerado un tipo de mercadotecnia en la que el producto a vender es un programa, un lema o un candidato (Maarek 1997). La llegada del espacio digital y, en especial, de la Web 2.0 han obligado a un replanteamiento de las estrategias de mercadotecnia tradicionales provocado por nuevos comportamientos –digitales– de los potenciales destinatarios. Desde el punto de vista de la comunicación, los usuarios de Internet están acostumbrados a poder personalizar sus experiencias digitales y a interactuar con ellas. Rara vez es un usuario netamente pasivo, sino que produce él mismo contenidos, ya sea en forma de comentarios, de reacciones (clicks), de elaboraciones a partir de otros contenidos o de creaciones originales. El usuario de la Web 2.0 tiene el derecho adquirido a dejar constancia de su paso por una información y todos los medios se han adaptado a esta nueva circunstancia.

Las características de la comunicación digital afectan en dos sentidos a la investigación de la comunicación política. Por un lado, esta adquiere unos rasgos novedosos que a menudo requieren de una conceptualización diferente a la utilizada hasta ahora en los análisis. Por otro lado, la naturaleza digital de estos textos invita al uso de metodologías de análisis que permitan reflejar todas sus peculiaridades (p.ej. la multimodalidad de los mensajes) y aprovechar las herramientas informáticas para obtener datos fiables de los corpus.


Alcántara-Plá, M. 2018. “Fuzzy Limits: Researching Discourse in Internet with Corpora”, in Second International Handbook of Internet Research, Amsterdam: Springer.

Internet has provided us with an amount of linguistic data without precedents. For those who research discourse and communication, it is an unexpected gift with a huge potential. However, this gift comes with important challenges we have to face. First, large corpora make us to use quantitative methods in fields where we were used to qualitative approaches. In order to change it, new strategies are being developed, such as the Corpus Assisted Discourse Studies (Baker et al. 2008, Partington et al 2013).

Secondly, traditional units of analysis need to be redefined. Communication through Internet has its own characteristics, and some of them do not fit in previous definitions. There are two main reasons for this regarding discourse analysis. On the one hand, current interactions are multimedia. Video, image and sound are not necessarily subordinated to text in Internet, and researchers ‘need to look beyond language to better understand how people communicate and interact in digital environments’ (Jewitt 2016). Recent approaches, such as Multimodal Critical Discourse Studies (Machin 2013), move in this direction.

On the other hand, limits have become fuzzy. Interactions in Internet work in new ways, even when we call them conversations or chats (Alcántara-Plá 2014). If we study them with our current units of analysis, these “conversations” will seem fragmentary and unstructured.

In this chapter, we describe these new challenges and the solutions that have been adopted so far, drawing attention to the major problems that still remain unsolved.


Alcántara-Plá, M. & A. Ruiz-Sánchez. 2018. “Not for Twitter: Migration as a silenced topic in 2015 Spain General Election” , in Schröter, M. & Ch. Taylor. Exploring Silence and Absence in Discourse: Empirical Approaches. London: Palgrave Macmillan. (ISBN 978-3-319-64579-7).

The general election of December 20 2015 in Spain was marked by the emergence of new parties claiming new ways of understanding politics. For these parties the use of social media is a key element of democratic regeneration (Mancera & Pano 2013, Fuchs 2014). Regarding Twitter, it was used as a main tool for political communication by all the parties, even the most traditional ones. We chose this particular social network hoping that its quite specific characteristics would help us to find innovative strategies. In this preliminary stage, we used frequencies in order to choose the most relevant issues, but soon it was very clear to us that we were missing some key topics. Hot issues of that period of time did not show up within the most frequent words. We found it particularly surprising that refugees were not a
frequent subject. It was December 2015 and the news all around the world were focusing on the Syrian war and on the migration phenomenon it was causing. Thousands of Syrian refugees were drowning in the Mediterranean coasts trying to reach Europe. Migration through the Mediterranean Sea has always been a main topic for Spain. The Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Spain from Morocco, has 7.7 nautical miles at the strait ́s narrowest point. This is a natural entrance for migration from Africa.

We decided to look into the corpus for other issues which were also very relevant for the Spanish political context and controversial for the political parties: feminism, sexuality, religion, racism, and linguistic minorities. The results showed us a clear pattern where topics conspicuous in the press, in everyday discussions, and even in the election manifestos, were missing in our Twitter corpus. This situation compelled us to foreground silences in our research, and to try to answer the questions of why those topics were silenced in the digital discourse and how it was done.

Both statistics and qualitative analysis help us to describe the way migration is misrepresented and silenced, and the strategies used in social media to leave social issues out of the agenda.


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Publications & Talks /

Publicaciones & Congresos

  • [Ponencia / Talk] Ruiz-Sánchez, Ana & Manuel Alcántara-Plá. 2018. “De los números a los marcos: la representación de los musulmanes en el discurso online“. In XIII Congreso Internacional de Lingüística Xeral, 6/13-15/2018, Vigo (Spain).
  • [Mesa redonda / Round table] Alcántara-Plá, Manuel, Maria Aldina Marques, Luisa Martín Rojo, Miguel Pérez Miláns & Eva Codó. 2018. “Mesa redonda sobre los problemas y desafíos para los estudios del discurso y sociedad en el siglo XXI“. In  Congreso EDiSo Discurso y sociedad en el siglo XXI, 6/12/2018, Vigo (Spain).
  • [Poster] Alcántara-Plá, Manuel y Ana Ruiz-Sánchez. 2018. “Estrategias de encuadre y articulación del discurso político en 140 caracteres“. In  Congreso EDiSo Discurso y sociedad en el siglo XXI, 6/12/2018, Vigo (Spain).
  • [Ponencia / Talk] Alcántara-Plá, Manuel y Ana Ruiz-Sánchez. 2018. “Estrategias de encuadre y articulación del discurso político en 140 caracteres“. In V Foro de la Asociación de Lingüística del Discurso (ALD), 5/31/2018-6/1/2018, Pamplona (Spain).
  • [Ponencia / Talk] Alcántara-Plá, Manuel. 2018. “Nuevos medios, ¿nuevas dinámicas? El uso de las redes sociales por los partidos políticos“. In Desplazamientos discursivos: mutaciones en el discurso político del s. XXI, 5/2-3/2018, Valencia (Spain).
  • [Nota de prensa / Press Release] (13/6/2016) “Refugiados y derechos humanos: los grandes ausentes en la campaña en Twitter
  • [Capítulo / Book Chapter] Alcántara-Plá, M. 2017. “El contexto en interacciones con límites difusos: La creación de sentido en la comunicación mediada por dispositivos“, in Giammatteo, M., P. Gubitosi & A. Parini (eds.). El español en la redMadrid: Iberoamericana Vervuert. (ISBN 978-84-16922-45-1).
  • [Ponencia / Talk] Ruiz-Sánchez, Ana and Manuel Alcántara-Plá. 2017. “En campaña: sobre la representación de las minorías en Twitter“. In EDiSo: Inequality and new social discourses, Barcelona (Spain).
  • [Ponencia / Talk] Alcántara-Plá, Manuel and Ana Ruiz-Sánchez. 2017. “Twitter en campaña: ¿Nuevas formas de interacción?“. In XLVI Simposio de la Sociedad Española de Lingüística, Madrid (Spain).
  • [Ponencia / Talk] Ruiz-Sánchez, Ana, Manuel Alcántara-Plá and Vanessa Amessa-Martín. 2016. “Estudio diacrónico de la crisis de los refugiados en el discurso político en Twitter“. In Congreso Mediaflows 2016: La nueva comunicación y los procesos de movilización política, Valencia (Spain).
  • [Ponencia / Talk] Alcántara Plá, Manuel, Ana Ruiz Sánchez and Vanessa Amessa Martín. 2016. “Discursos silenciados: Minorías en la campaña electoral 2015 en España“. In Political Discourse and the Extremes in the Romance Speaking Countries: Linguistics and Social Science perspectives, Stockholm University (Sweden).
  • [Charla/ Talk] Ruiz Sánchez, Ana, Vanessa Amessa Martín and Manuel Alcántara Plá. 2016. “Political Discourse in 140 characters: 2015 Spain General Election“. In Corpora and Discourse International Conference: The SiBol Group,Siena University (Italy).
  • [Charla/ Talk] Alcántara Plá, Manuel. 2016. “Metodologías de obtención y gestión de corpus para el análisis del discurso en redes“. In Seminarios PRODISNET, Universitat de València.