12-14 October 2023
Universität Klagenfurt
Europe/Vienna timezone

PANEL #5. Scio ergo sum. Linguistically enacting expertise online

Panel organizer:

Eva Triebl (University of Vienna): eva.triebl@univie.ac.at

This panel is devoted to critically exploring how (various types of) expert identities are discursively construed and negotiated in digital discourse (Thurlow & Mroczek 2011, Bou-Franch & Blitvich 2019). Argumentative discussions on social media are marked by the relative absence of contextual cues that would allow interactants to evaluate the credibility of information presented; in collapsed online contexts (Marwick & boyd 2014), the only epistemic indices to which they have access are semiosis and the frames for interpretation it activates (Gumperz 1967).

Users’ perception of, and experience with, the complex configuration of contextual variables that are represented by the interactional context they jointly construe and reflexively respond to (Tagg, Seargeant & Brown 2017) defines what identities, claims and behaviours are deemed authentic and credible (Bucholz & Hall 2005, Leppänen et al. 2015), and how language is strategically used to take and negotiate epistemic stance (Ochs 1996) in online text and talk (Heritage 2012, van Dijk 2013, Meredith 2019). Since local linguistic choices serving credibility management are informed by underlying notions about what counts as valid information, is appropriate to say and communicatively effective in a particular discourse context, the negotiation and enactment of expertise (Carr 2010) can also be critically studied to learn about ideologies of communication (Spitzmüller 2015), that is, more permanent conceptualizations structuring meaning-making in online interaction (Fairclough 2010, van Dijk 2017, KhosraviNik 2022).

In light of a wider conceptual struggle around epistemic authority and authenticity in increasingly computer-mediated social life (Coupland 2003), this panel seeks to advance knowledge and spark debate about the role of language in the production and negotiation of (lay) expert identities in contemporary online interaction (Sosnowy 2014, Sprain & Reinig 2018, Antony, Steets & Pfadenhauer 2022). Among the confirmed contributions are Spitzmüller’s anthropologically informed meta-pragmatic study of claims of expertise in the context of an Open Source project (Silverstein 1993, Gal 2019), Marko’s corpus-based study of challenges to expertise in online conversations (Potter & te Molder 2005) and Triebl’s discourse-pragmatic study of disclaimers of expertise in web forums (Aijmer 2013). Submissions are invited that vary regarding theoretical frameworks and methods, genres, topics represented and claims raised about them.


Antony, Alexander, Silke Steets & Michaela Pfadenhauer (2022). Politics of Crisis: Threatening and Defending Journalistic Expertise—A Processual Account. Symbolic Interaction 45 (4). 541–569.

Aijmer, Karin (2013). Understanding Pragmatic Markers. A Variational Pragmatic Approach. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.

Bou-Franch, Patricia & Pilar Garcés-Conejos Blitvich (eds.) (2019). Analyzing Digital Discourse: New Insights and Future Directions. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Bucholz, Mary & Kira Hall (2005). Identity and interaction: a sociocultural linguistic approach. Discourse Studies 7 (4–5). 585–614.

Carr, E. Summerson (2010). Enactments of expertise. Annual Review of Anthropology 39. 17–32.

Coupland, Nikolas (2003). Sociolinguistic authenticities. Journal of Sociolinguistics 7 (3). 417–431.

Fairclough, Norman (2010). Critical Discourse Analysis. The Critical Study of Language. London: Routledge.

Gal, Susan & Judith T. Irvine (2019). Signs of Difference: Language and Ideology in Social Life. Cambridge University Press.

Gumperz, John J. (1967). Language and Communication. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 373 (1). 219–231.

Heritage, John & Chase Raymond (2005). The terms of agreement: indexing epistemic authority and subordination in talk-in-interaction. Social Psychology Quarterly 68. 15–38. https://doi.org/10.1177/019027250506800103

Heritage, John (2012). Epistemics in action: action formation and territories of knowledge. Res. Lang. Soc. Interact 45 (1). 1–29. https://doi.org/10.1080/083

KhosraviNik, Majid (2022). Digital meaning-making across content and practice in social media critical discourse studies. Critical Discourse Studies 19 (2). 119–123. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2020.1835683

Leppänen, Sirpa, Janus Spindler Møller, Thomas Rørbeck Nørreby, Andreas Stæhr & Samu Kytölä (2015). Authenticity, normativity and social media. Discourse, Context and Media 8. 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2015.05.008

Marwick, Alice E. & Danah boyd (2014). Networked privacy: How teenagers negotiate context in social media. New Media & Society 16 (7). 1051–1067. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444814543995

Meredith, Joanne (2019). Conversation Analysis and Online Interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction 52 (3). 241–256.

Ochs, Elinor (1996). Linguistic resources for socializing humanity. In: John J. Gumperz & Stephen Levinson (eds.). Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. New York: Cambridge University Press. 407–437.

Silverstein, Michael (1993). Metapragmatic discourse and metapragmatic function. In: John A. Lucy (ed.). Reflexive language: Reported speech and metapragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 33–58.

Sosnowy, Collette (2014). Practicing Patienthood Online: Social Media, Chronic Illness, and Lay Expertise. Societies 4. 316–329. https://doiorg/10.3390/

Spitzmüller, Jürgen (2015). Graphic variation and graphic ideologies: a metapragmatic approach. Social Semiotics 25 (2). 126– 141.https://doi.org/10.

Sprain Leah & Lydia Reinig (2018). Citizens Speaking as Experts: Expertise Discourse in Deliberative Forums. Environmental Communication 12 (3). 357–369. https://doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2017.1394894

Tagg, Caroline, Philip Seargeant & Amy Aisha Brown (2017). Online Communication as Context Design. In: Tagg, Caroline, Philip Seargeant & Amy Aisha Brown. Taking Offence on Social Media: Conviviality and Communication on Facebook. Cham: Palgrave. 19–42.

te Molder, Hedwig & Jonathan Potter (eds.) (2005). Conversation and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511489990.002

Thurlow, Crispin & Kristine Mroczek (eds). (2011). Digital Discourse: Language in the New Media. New York, London: Oxford University Press.

Unger, Johann, Ruth Wodak & Majid KhosraviNik (2016). Critical Discourse Studies and Social Media Data. In: David Silverman (ed.). Qualitative Research. 4th ed. London: Sage. 277–93.

van Dijk, Teun A. (2013). The field of Epistemic Discourse Analysis. Discourse Studies 15 (5). 497–499. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445613501448

van Dijk, Teun A. (2017). Socio-Cognitive Discourse Studies. In: John Flowerdew & John E. Richardson (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Critical Discourse Studies. London, New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. 26–43.