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Inequalities, Community Resilience and New Governance Modalities in a Post-Pandemic World

Cluster IV - Mobilising (d/mis)information and communities: Governance Rhetoric, Polarization and Empathy


  • Assess top-down and bottom-up discursive strategies of pandemic governance and mobilising (successes, failures and networks);
  • Track polarising rhetoric, conspiracy theories and mis/dis-information, anti-minorities (including migrants, black, and indigenous communities) discourse in different phases of the pandemic;
  • Investigate transborder flow and metamorphosis of nodes and ideas in mobilising, collective building and empathy building, that may even include humour and parody, through social media in pandemic crisis situations from citizen, journalists’ and activists’ perspective.

Social media has played an important role in the Covid-19 crisis on transnational, national and local levels, in both top-down and bottom-up communication. It has enabled bonding and empowerment but also the spread of polarising and confrontational rhetoric. (Mis)information spreads on different sides of the Atlantic with similar characteristics in the hybrid media environments. Social media is a good place to observe the emergent hegemonic contestation, (de)mobilisation and flows of ideas transnationally on both the grassroots and (global) leadership levels.

Using computational and discourse theoretical social science methods, this cluster examines development of the crisis and ways of dealing with it through social media. Global data topic modelled and passed through sentiment analysis, shows phases and clusters of different discursive developments. Cluster 3 reveals which discourses come to the fore in a crisis such as COVID-19 globally, as well as how topics cluster and trend regionally, building on existing social media databases of the Covid-19 pandemic (based on global hashtags), and some original data gathering where needed on platforms such as Twitter and YouTube.

In comparative national contexts, based on key countries and with mutual support of data provision, this cluster will study the following case studies: 

  1. Top-down Covid-19 communication of national governments and global health organisations, e.g. Brazil, United States, Canada, Finland, Ukraine, Poland, and Venezuela and the global case of WHO, and the popular response to them through matching official information and ‘the hashtag landscape’.
  2. The role of science communication in social media, including the emergence of pseudoscience and debates between officials and scientists, studying particularly (public) science communicators, governments’ communication channels and the growth on following and interactions with scientists which has been prevalent in several countries.
  3. Nationalism, authoritarianism, anti-vaccine rhetoric, and conspiracy theories’ transformation and flow (conspiracy theories rhetoric) is analysed through above mentioned AI tools and by applying network analysis to investigate the key nodes andentangled discursive trends.
  4. Social media assisted mobilisation and communication (citizen groups, consumers, minorities-based social movements, and key workers and empowered groups) in grass-roots and bottom-up mobilisation, such as in the case of Colombia where textile activists organised through social media or citizen users of online communication in Finland. 
  5. The role of particular actors such as journalists, community leaders, health organisations, politicians as key workers in the management of pandemic through the social media.
  6. The role of discursive strategies such as parody and humour in crisis communication.
  7. Academic workshop leading to a special issue in journals

Team members working in Cluster IV 

Emilia Palonen (Lead Investigator of Cluster 4) 

Marina Fontolan (Co-Leader) 

Yannick Lahti

Virpi Salojärvi

Salla-Maria Laaksonen

Juha Koljonen

Giselle Soares

Nicole De March

Leandro R. Tessler

Gabriela Villen

Juliano Costa Carvalho

Maycon Poli Barbosa 

Piotr Pieńkowski

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