Jaime García-Iglesias & Reka Solymosi Workshop

Time: 11:30 to 12:30

Venue: Humanities Bridgeford Street, 2.07

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Jaime García-Iglesias - PhD student in Sociology

Understanding online violent discourses in context: The case of ‘viral violence’ and HIV

Content Warning - explicit sexual references

Bugchasing, the fetishization of HIV infection, has been the focus of much academic research (e.g. Dean 2009). Bugchasers contribute abundantly to social media (Twitter, Tumblr, forums, chats, etc.). Their online interactions have been considered by researchers as evidencing an underlying narrative of self-harm, abuse, and sex addiction to the bugchasing groups (e.g. Moskowitz and Roloff 2007). This reading is sustained by frequent visual imagery depicting explicit sex acts. However, no research has been conducted in how users themselves consume these materials, interpret them and negotiate their meanings. This paper explores how bugchasers engage with these materials through a lens of fantasy and playfulness (see Dean 2015, Paasonen 2018).

The product of twenty in-depth interviews with self-identified bugchasers, this presentation showcases several users’ personal narratives of their use of Twitter and other online sites to consume and create pornographic materials. In particular, I explore how these users critically engage with these materials, their awareness of its constructed character and their views of the commercial and material politics that underlie their interactions online. These personal narratives explicit the potential of ‘fantasy’ as a way of conceptualizing these online engagements with violent materials. In so doing, I complicate simplistic assumptions of mindless consumption and instead propose a model where online violence is produced and consumed in nuanced, fluid and, at times, paradoxical ways. Overall, this paper evidences the value of empirical engagements alongside media analyses to better comprehend the role violence plays in online spaces and its relationship to sexual pleasures.

Reka Solymosi - Lecturer in Quantitative Methods in Criminology

Exploring Twitter appeals for missing persons by Greater Manchester Police

Missing persons present a prevalent issue in the United Kingdom; according to the charity Missing People, a person is reported missing every 90 seconds. Social media messages are one approach to find missing persons by spreading the appeal far and wide, to reach someone with information, or the missing person themselves. Analysing 1,008 such appeals made on Twitter by Greater Manchester Police twitter accounts, we build a picture of what sorts of features are associated with wider sharing of these messages (measured by retweets). We find that tweets with different choice of image, wording, sentiment, and hashtags vary in how much they are retweeted. Our findings present the first empirical insight into how missing person appeals are tweeted by police accounts, and how the public engage with these through retweeting. This should guide further study into what factors influence wide sharing of such appeals, and have implications for policy and practice.

If you are interested in discussing your research at future sessions, please contact:
david.builgil@manchester.ac.uk or michael.prentice@manchester.ac.uk