cover of book

Following Searle on Twitter: How Words Create Digital Institutions
by Adam Hodgkin
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Cloth: 978-0-226-43821-4 | eISBN: 978-0-226-43835-1
Library of Congress Classification HM743.T95H644 2017
Dewey Decimal Classification 302.3

Twitter allows us to build communities, track celebrities, raise our social profile, and promote a personal brand. Adam Hodgkin thinks Twitter is much more than a mere social media tool—it is a terrain ripe for a conceptual and theoretical analysis of our use of digital language. In Following Searle on Twitter, Hodgkin takes John Searle’s theory of speech acts as Status Function Declarations (SFDs)—speech acts that fulfill their meaning by saying the right words in the right context—as a probe for understanding Twitter’s institutional structure and the still-developing toolset that it provides for its members. He argues that Twitter is an institution built, constituted, and evolving through the use of SFDs. Searle’s speech act theories provide a framework for illuminating how Twitter membership arises, how users of Twitter relate to each other by following, and how increasingly complex content is conveyed with tweets. Using this framework, Hodgkin places language, action, intention, and responsibility at the core of the digital culture and the digital institutions that we are constructing.
Combining theoretical perspective with a down-to-earth exposition of present-day digital institutions, Following Searle on Twitter explores how all of our interactions with these emerging institutions are deeply rooted in language, and are the true foundation of social media and contemporary institutions.

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