This paper attempts to locate the significance of social media content analysis as a tool of data collection in social science research. It is seen that in present times social media sites are increasingly used by people to share their opinions about issues of socio-political relevance. This paper analyses how recent studies on nationalism and identity have used public discourses on the social networking sites – Facebook and Twitter as tools for collecting data on the broad areas of identity formation, nationalistic assertion, etc. For this purpose, this paper analyses four studies which have highlighted the following four distinct instances of nationalistic assertions through social media platforms in different parts of the world - Donald Trump’s campaign on Twitter for the 2016 Presidential elections, the importance of Facebook in the union flag protests in Northern Ireland in 2013, significance of Facebook in discourses on identity and ethnicity in Hongkong, and the use of Twitter in the discourse on refugee citizenship in Turkey. These studies have been purposively selected due to two primary factors- the novelty of their research approach, and also because they are illustrative of four distinct cases of identity assertion representing four different cultures, societies, economies. By highlighting the advantages and the limitations of social media content analysis, this paper attempts to throw light on the significance of locating social media platforms as sites of methodological inquiry in social science research.
Murchana Kaushik, Queen's University, United Kingdom
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