Identity and (Dis)agreement in Congo-Brazzaville Political Discourse on Facebook

Identity and (Dis)agreement in Congo-Brazzaville Political Discourse on Facebook

Jean Mathieu Tsoumou
Copyright: © 2025 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-7366-5.ch019
Chapter PDF Download
Open access chapters are freely available for download


Despite the growing research on identity, the connection between (dis)agreement and identity in political debates has received scant attention, even though these phenomena (i.e., identity and [dis]agreement) are common discursive practices in polarizing interactions. This chapter qualitatively examines the relationship between (dis)agreement and identity in a politically-oriented Facebook interaction in Congo-Brazzaville, a sociolinguistic environment where more than 60 languages are regularly spoken. What the findings show is that there is a strong connection between identity and the ways the interactants (dis)agree, since, as the analysis shows, the interactants do not just (dis)agree, but their expression of opinions, points of views, as well as sociopolitical engagement reflect what makes them similar to or different from others. The management of one's positions within the conversation rests on the ability to manage the positive social value one effectively (dis)claims for himself by the line others assume he/she has taken in the interaction.
Chapter Preview

1. Introduction

Identity is one transversal research concept that has attracted researchers from a myriad of disciplines, including social psychology, sociolinguistics, literature, linguistic anthropology, discourse analysis, pragmatics among many others (Kroskrity 2000; Bucholtz and Hall 2005; Garcés-Conejos Blitvich 2009; Andersson 2022). For example, social psychologists have enhanced our understanding of the patterns of individual prejudices and discrimination as well as the motivational sequences of interpersonal interaction (Tajefel and Turner 1979; Garcés-Conejos Blitvich and Sifianou 2017; Tsoumou 2020, 2022). Sociolinguistics has shed light upon the ways in which such concepts as ‘a language’ and ‘a group or community’ come into being through the acts of identity which people perform (Grant and Macleod 2016). Both linguists and anthropologists recognize the importance of pronouns in anchoring language to specific speakers in specific contexts and in signaling the reciprocal changes in the roles of interactants through their performance of, and engagement in communicative acts (De Fina et al., 2006). Pragmatic research on the interplay between humor and identity construction show that language users can index their collective and cultural identities through the awareness they illustrate of socially accepted and appropriate behaviors (Sinkeviciute 2019). With respect to identity (co-)construction, the consensus is that impoliteness, for example, can play a role in the way interactants negotiate the notion of face (Malthus, 2019), and through this negotiation, they may tend to position themselves with respect to others (Garcés-Conejos Blitvich and Sifianou 2017; Andersson 2021). In other words, impoliteness plays a role in shaping group tensions and collective/individual dynamics (Perelmutter 2018; Garcés-conejos Blitvich and Bou-Franch 2018, 2019). In globalized contexts, for example, the emphasis has been on the crucial role of top-down homogeny and bottom-up differentiations in language practices, language ideologies, and identities, analysing the in-grouping/out-grouping dynamics in the selection of language to cause offense and the (re)affirmation of social identity (Perelmutter 2018; Garcés-conejos Blitvich 2018). However, despite the growing research on identity, the relationship between (dis)agreement and identity in online political debates in multilingual context such Congo-Brazzaville has received scant attention, even though these phenomena are common discursive practices in polarizing interactions (Locher and Sebastian 2006). This chapter thus qualitatively examines the link between (dis)agreement and identity in politically oriented Facebook interactions in Congo-Brazzaville, a sociolinguistic environment where more than sixty languages (i.e., French, Kituba, Lingala and ethnic languages such as Mbochi) are regularly spoken (Tsoumou 2020). The study intends to explore how (dis)agreements become forms of affirmation and denial in which the expression of judgment or opinion - rather than the assertion of fact - is not just involved, but becomes a way to (dis)claim a certain form of identity. In this paper, it is argued that (dis)agreement and identity are strongly linked in a way that (dis)agreements can serve as signals of political and sociocultural identities. If a person A (dis)agrees with a person B, the turn A takes in his/her expression of such a (dis)agreement will index A’s true self as opposed to others. In other words, a person A will likely disagree with a person B who shares an opposite political view. In this respect, the paper intends to answer the following question,

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: