Latent and explicit mnemonic communities on social media: studying digital memory formation through hashtag co-occurrence analysis

Robbert Jan Adriaansen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

This article explores the nature and dynamics of mnemonic communities within the context of social media platforms and proposes to identify mnemonic communities using hashtag co-occurrence analysis. The article distinguishes between 'explicit' and 'latent' mnemonic communities, arguing that while some digital mnemonic communities may exhibit characteristics of offline communities, others exist latently as discursive spaces or semiospheres without direct awareness. On platforms like Instagram, hashtags function as semiotic markers, but also as user-chosen indexes to the content. As hashtags link the social and semantic aspects of community formation, hashtag co-occurrence analysis offers a robust framework for understanding and mapping these communities. This method allows to detect and analyse patterns of hashtag use that suggest the presence of networked community structures that may not be apparent or conscious to the social media users themselves. Additionally, a metric is introduced for determining the degree of 'latentness' of communities that quantifies the cohesion within communities compared to their external connections. The article demonstrates this approach by applying hashtag co-occurrence analysis to a dataset of Instagram posts tagged with #Juneteenth, a popular hashtag used to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States. It identifies 87 mnemonic communities that reflect the diversity and complexity of how platforms facilitate memory-sharing practices and the role of semiotic markers in forming (latent) mnemonic networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13
JournalMemory, Mind and Media
Volume3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Research programs

  • ESHCC HIS

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