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Words and Actions

Jun 24, 2022

Your identity is a right old mess. As is ours, mind you… and don‘t get us started on Marcus Rashford! In this episode we delve into the different layers and facets of identity construction in digital space. Via small stories, solo selfies and networked narratives, we offer ways to inspect different senses of selves as they are created in online environments.

The journey will take us past talking dogs, overpowering teacher personas (yes, we are talking about ourselves!) socially constructed bosses, and walking gods. And we will get started on Marcus Rashford.  

For further info and a full transcript please head over to:

In this episode,right at the beginning, we reminisce about previous episodes. You may want to listen (again) to episodes on crisis communication (S1E6) and on negotiations (S2E19). Later we mention two other episodes S1E7 on storytelling and S1E11 on impression management.  


We start our topic, computer-mediated communication and identity, with Erika telling us about the very early days of the Internet.  We also mention Peter Steiner’s 199 cartoon “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”, which has become so famous that it has its own Wikipedia entry.  We then go on to introduce the theory for this episode, namely Mary Bucholtz and Kira Hall’s work on identity construction through spoken interaction:


Bucholtz, M., & Hall, K. (2005). Identity and interaction: A sociocultural linguistic approach. Discourse studies, 7(4-5), 585-614


Erika gets due credit from Bernard and Veronika for her work on constructing identities in digital spaces, e.g.:


Darics, E., & Gatti, M. C. (2019). Talking a team into being in online workplace collaborations: the discourse of virtual work. Discourse Studies, 21(3), 237-257.


Still in the introduction, Bernard mentions a study on whether women prefer female bosses.

We contrast this global study with one that addresses very specific contexts.

 Talking about how identity can be indexed in online interaction, Veronika mentions a recent PhD thesis completed at Lancaster University. A bit later, Bernard refers to influencers and mentions the case of Dotan, a Dutch singer and influencer podcaster who was less than authentic. Veronika’s current research on how online identity construction works in political discourse is part of a multi-authored book on which she is lead author and that is currently under review with the publisher (so fingers crossed!). The title is Voices of Supporters: Populist parties, social media and the 2019 European elections.  The interview guest for this episode is Alexandra Georgaopoulou, a professor at King’s College London who is known for her work on so-called “small stories” and their function in constructing identities, including online. Information on the Ego Media project, which studied the impact of new media on forms and practices of self-presentation, can be found at There is a  forthcoming digital publication from the project with Stanford University Press.

Moving on to the analysis part of the episode, we look at the social media profiles of footballer, author and campaigner Marcus Rashford: @MarcusRashford (Twitter), marcusrashford (Instagram), _marcusrashford (TikTok). The fan account in TikTok is rashford10marcus. All three accounts feature a logo based on his initials: 

 In analysing the posts, we draw on a matrix first proposed for how CEOs present themselves online:


Jameson, D. A. (2014). Crossing public-private and personal-professional boundaries: How changes in technology may affect CEOs’ communication. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 77(1), 7-30.


And that’s it for this episode - see you again next time!