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Nonpology unaccepted: Insincere apologies in social media discourse
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013). Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Center for Language and Literature in Education (from 2013). (Kulturvetenskapliga forskargruppen)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0680-4275
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper presents a pilot study of how social media interactants construct a notion ofnonpologies. Nonpology is a neologism sometimes found in social media discussions of what research has called, e.g., “non-apologies” or “quasi-apologies” (Kampf, 2009). Such concepts often relate to a socially recognized genre of “public apologies” (An- carno, 2015) by politicians, celebrities, or corporate spokespersons. Public apologies that rate as nonpologies may either lack an explicit moment of apologizing, or come across as insincere or self-serving in some way. This study focuses on how Twitter in- teractants construe public apology-framed events, for instance in wake of the #MeTooawareness raising campaign of late 2017. The material is a collection of Twitter conver- sations in which at least one interlocutor refers to an event specifically as a nonpology. This material is analyzed in a microanalytic framework with a focus on the emic (i.e., discourse participants’) construction of the concept. For example, talking about come- dian James Corden’s apology for a rape joke, two Twitter users orient to the apology as insufficient and insincere:

  1. A:  Ugh his apology is so shit. SNL did Weinstein jokes that ripped Weinstein. It can be done. Corden just acted like rape is hilarious.

  2. B:  Yup. He punched right down.

B: And it’s a nonpology; I’m sorry IF you were offended.

Here, A dismisses Corden’s apology as “so shit,” suggesting that the apology was inad- equate to make up for the transgression of the rape joke. B replies to A’s tweet twice. First, B aligns with A’s criticism of the rape joke itself. Second, B expands on A’s dis- missal of the apology by labeling it a nonpology. B elaborates on the nonpology concept by constructing a paraphrase of Corden’s apology. In the paraphrase, B conceptualizes the nonpology as being focused on the taking of offense rather than on the transgression itself, and as being conditional (B emphasizes “IF”).

Through analysis of such instances, the pilot study aims to contribute to the develop- ment of a larger project on non-apologies in mediated interaction. Since the focus is on everyday interaction, the project will contribute to linguistic/interactional scholarship on the structure and felicity conditions of apologies in general. Further, since the con- cepts of nonpologies are formulated in response to events of critical political signifi- cance in the public’s view, the project will contribute to our understanding of everyday, micro-level, political participation in the context of digitally-mediated publics.

Ancarno, C. (2015). When are public apologies “successful”? Focus on British and French apology press uptakes. Journal of Pragmatics, 84, 139–153.

Kampf, Z. (2009). Public (non-) apologies: The discourse of minimizing responsibility. Journal of Pragmatics, 41(11), 2257–2270.

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2018.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-67234OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-67234DiVA, id: diva2:1202701
Conference
Association Suédoise de Linguistique Appliquée, ASLA, April 12–13, 2018, Karlstad, Sweden
Available from: 2018-04-30 Created: 2018-04-30 Last updated: 2018-05-07Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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