Edited by Anita Fetzer and Elda Weizman
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 307] 2019
► pp. 179–205
An analysis of Jack Ma’s narrative identities on Sina Weibo
In this chapter, we attempt, inspired by Sacks’ (1984) discussion of “doing being ordinary”, to explore and expound the means and purposes celebrities do “being ordinary” on social media and the related notions of narrative in digital communication and narrative identity. These notions are conceptualized with reference to the Chinese business mogul Jack Ma’s means of doing ordinary things vs. doing things ordinarily on Sina Weibo through the social media’s affordance of multimodal resources. What emerges in the course of data analysis is our proposed sense of doing being ordinary, i.e., the observation of the order of things. Our analysis shows that storytelling serves as an important pragmatic strategy in Jack Ma’s doing “being ordinary” on Weibo and that most of Ma’s posts turn out to be “extraordinarily carefully regulated sorts of things” (Sacks 1984: 428), which aim to project, present and/or preserve Jack Ma’s various positive narrative identities.
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