“I AM HERE AND I MATTER”
Virtue signaling and moral-political stance in progressive activists’ Facebook posts
In this article I operationalize the term “virtue signaling”, a term generally pejoratively used towards people’s assertions of values on social media platforms, as “moral-political stancetaking”, an activity that is actually quite common on- and offline and that works to exert peer pressure toward onlookers and addressees so that they will adopt certain values. Using analytical frameworks of small stories and stance, I examine a narrative sequence from one political activist, demonstrating how she situates long-term aspects of her biography in relation to present moral-political crises in order to make assertions that culminate in the construction of a moral-political framework for the progressive grassroots organizations that she leads. Through this analysis I assert that the notion of virtue signaling, while new to the social media era, fits well within repertoires of communicative behavior that long pre-date the rise of social media.
Keywords: morality, stance, virtue signaling, small stories, Facebook, social media, activism, progressive activism, intersectionality, intersectional feminism
- Pantsuit Republic Texas and Pantsuit Republic Houston
- Entextualizing small stories on Facebook
- Stance in Facebook narratives
- Analyzing stance
- Hashtags in stancetaking
- Data collection and methods of analysis
- “I AM HERE AND I MATTER”: Signaling a moral-political stance on immigration and assimilation
- PSRH post caption
- IH post caption
- Video text
- PSRH post caption
- IH post caption
- Video text
- Segment 1.Story announcement and evaluative preview
- Segment 2.“Distant past Lucy’s” identity destabilization
- Segment 3.Recent past Lucy’s identity stabilization
- Segment 4.Evaluative stance/making an example of Brokaw’s utterance
- Segment 4a.Claiming her epistemic power/authority
- Segment 5.Reinforcing her message
- Segment 6.Accountability for a broader public
- Segment 7.Closing
- Summary of the narratives
Published online: 25 March 2021
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