Unknowledge Economies: Digital discourse and its effect in potentially rendering all information effectively subjective

Robert Stewart Hunter

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This research project critically explores the manner in which online interaction between individuals affects their understanding of information and what this means for the meaning of information within this context. In order to examine these interactions and their effects the research question asked is: To what extent is digital discourse within the context of the online information explosion rendering all information effectively subjective?

The aims of the research were to investigate the relationship between individuals and information and to develop a conceptual framework through which to understand this relationship. Coupled with this concept of interpretative methodology within this research is the idea of Verstehen as a way of developing an understanding of language and behaviour.

As the research required public online discourse surrounding an information rich topic it was decided that the issue of climate change would meet these needs. It is an issue which is steeped in debate and that features a significant volume of publicly available information in the form of official statistics, reports and projections as well as widespread media coverage.

The analysis of this data highlighted the prominence of certain key elements, such as notable individuals who can be seen taking on roles which direct the discourse shaping it either through the comments they make or the information which they share. This generative role-taking plays into the idea that social validation and the perceived credibility of an individual are vital to the impact which they can have on a discussion and in their ability to shape the opinions of others.

The contribution to knowledge can be found in the relationships with the discourse with regard to the issue of who constructs meaning for a piece of information; reconceptualising who is regarded as owning a source and who is regarded as credible in an online social context.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Northumbria University
  • McLeod, Julie, Supervisor
  • Pickard, Alison, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


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