Rumour mining

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The aim of the project is to investigate the role and importance of rumouring for
the vaccination skepticism growing on the internet, and how it can be understood
as an expression of civic engagement in the present digital times entailing crucial
transformations for everyday civic culture. The project combines theories and
methods from ethnology, media and communication studies, and language
technology. Theoretically, the project builds upon, and develop, media researcher
Dahlgren’s work on civic culture and Kitta’s studies of the anti-vaccination
movement. The overarching research question is: How have the everyday
practice and experience of, and the conditions for, rumours been shaped and
reshaped in the digital age, and what do these processes mean for civic
engagement and participation? The growing vaccination hesitancy in Sweden,
characterized by extensive rumouring on the internet, constitutes the empirical
focus. The project also has a method developing purpose, in examining how
quantitative (language technology) and qualitative (ethnographic) methods can be
combined to an effective tool for exploring how rumours are established, emitted
and circulated on social media, and how people relate to these rumours in their
own deliberations and decision-making. The method combination, termed
“rumour mining”, will be tested in a minor pilot study of another case, very
different from the main one, that is, the Swedish Academy s transformation in the
wake of #metoo.