'R.I.P. man...u are missed and loved by many': entextualising moments of mourning on a Facebook Rest in Peace group site

Giaxoglou, Korina (2014). 'R.I.P. man...u are missed and loved by many': entextualising moments of mourning on a Facebook Rest in Peace group site. Thanatos, 3(1) pp. 10–28.

URL: https://thanatosjournal.files.wordpress.com/2012/1...


Digital media offer new domains for people to articulate aspects of their everyday selves, as well as to share resources, views, attitudes, and emotions on an unprecedented scale (Barton and Lee 2013; Georgakopoulou 2006; Jones and Hafner 2012). The recent emergence of online environments as new sites for the temporal, spatial and social expansion of death and mourning (Brubaker and Hayes 2011; Brubaker, Hayes and Dourish 2013) has attracted scholarly interest in digital post-death rituals of mourning and memorialisation as an important social phenomenon (Walter et al. 2011; de Vries and Roberts 2004).

While previous studies have been largely based on content analyses of individual MySpace logs and Facebook or discussion forum posts, the present study approaches digital memorial posts as entextualised moments of mourning shared with and for a networked audience (John 2013; Androutsopoulos 2014).

The article analyses a corpus of Facebook memorial posts (N=525) as post sequences, wall events and texts, looking at how content on the site is produced, shared and discursively regimented. Based on the analysis, it is suggested that the intextualisation of moments of mourning on Facebook is participatory: it involves users’ selection of moments for public display relating to offline ceremonies of mourning, calendar-important dates or personal updates and contributing to the production of a textured wall in memory of the dead. The textuality of posts is found to rely on an ad hoc blending of formal genres of mourning and vernacular genres of writing dependent on (i) situational (date of posting activity, position in the post sequence) and (ii) extra-textual parameters (gender of poster, relationship with the deceased). The present socio-discursive investigation contributes to the growing, in-depth understanding of the texture and textuality of Web 2.0 mourning practices.

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