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Hashtag Publics

The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks


Edited By Nathan Rambukkana

This collection investigates the publics of the hashtag. Taking cues from critical public sphere theory, contributors are interested in publics that break beyond the mainstream – in other publics. They are interested in the kinds of publics that do politics in a way that is rough and emergent, flawed and messy, and ones in which new forms of collective power are being forged on the fly and in the shadow of loftier mainstream spheres.
Hashtags are deictic, indexical – yet what they point to is themselves, their own dual role in ongoing discourse. Focusing on hashtags used for topics from Ferguson, Missouri, to Australian politics, from online quilting communities to labour protests, from feminist outrage to drag pop culture, this collection follows hashtag publics as they trend beyond Twitter into other spaces of social networking such as Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr as well as other media spaces such as television, print, and graffiti.
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Chapter Eighteen: Meta-Hashtag and Tag Co-occurrence: From Organization to Politics in the French Canadian Twittersphere


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Meta-Hashtag and Tag Co-occurrence: From Organization to Politics in the French Canadian Twittersphere



French and English are the two official languages in Canada. Even though the majority of Canadians are English speaking, French Canadians account for more than 7 million of the total population (21.3%). The largest Francophone community is concentrated in Quebec (6 million), the only province where the only official language is French. The remaining French Canadians live outside Quebec, scattered throughout English-speaking provinces and territories (Statistics Canada, 2014). They have to deal with limited resources to keep their community networks alive, defend their culture, and campaign for the preservation of linguistic rights. Social media represent a nonexpensive, accessible opportunity to pursue these activities, as many French community–based webzines, blogs, and Twitter and Facebook accounts demonstrate. Here, we focus on the use of the microblogging platform Twitter by French-speaking Canadian minority populations.

Drawing from data harvested from Twitter and from interviews, this study investigates how these minority populations use hashtags to organize their online communication. We crafted a long-term methodological strategy, and over time we observed that many different hashtags were used in the community, often simultaneously in one message. On Twitter, messages cannot exceed the maximum length of 140 characters, and using many hashtags “consumes” characters. Why ← 243 | 244 → use so many hashtags in a single message? What is the significance of hashtag...

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