Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly is giving an invited research seminar at the Faculty of Media & Communication at Bournemouth University on Wednesday 24th May, 4-5pm. The talk is entitled 'Social media and contentious parades in divided societies: Tweeting the 2014 and 2015 Ardoyne parade disputes.'
The abstract for Paul's talk is below:
To what extent do social media facilitate debate between Catholics and Protestants about contentious parades and protests in post-conflict Northern Ireland? Do these ‘affective publics’ tend to escalate or de-escalate the tensions caused by these events? This paper addsresses these issues through a qualitative study of how citizens used Twitter in response to contentious Orange Order parades in the Ardoyne district of North Belfast in 2014 and 2015. Twitter provided a platform for ‘affective publics’ who expressed a myriad of sentiments towards the Orange Order, in addition to the residents who opposed the loyalist parade passing the predominantly nationalist area. This study focused on the extent to which these tweeters appeared to use the site to prevent a recurrence of the sectarian violence that followed the parade in previous years. A critical thematic analysis of 7388 #Ardoyne tweets, collected in July 2014 and July 2015, was conducted in order to investigate these issues. Results indicate that Twitter’s greatest contribution to peacebuilding may lie in its empowerment of citizens to correct rumours and disinformation that have the potential to generate sectarian violence. However, the site does not appear to function as a shared space in which cross-community consensus on contentious issues such as Ardoyne parade can be fostered.