Morally High:
Is Twitter being used as an online space to
challenge socio-political discourse around
drug use?
Kieran Hami...
Focus of the paper
● Using available social media data & online research tools to begin
to understand viewer perceptions o...
Context: Drugs and the Media
●
Context: The Media, Discourse and Stigma
Drug users as folk devils
● Dirty
● Stupid
● Pathological (mental or physical)
● ...
Context: Drug Users and Stigma
● Stigmatising portrayals contribute to discrimination
adding social exclusion
● Barrier to...
NPS: Legal Highs
● Analogue imitations of existing illegal drugs
● Rec user disillusionment over high price, low purity of...
Channel 4’s Legally High: True Stories
#LegallyHigh
Three groups/individuals:
● ‘Psychonaut’
● recreational polydrug users
● ‘Dr Z’ - chemist
New Media/Old Media
Broadcast vs interactive, many to many -
convergence (Jenkins 2006)
Combination of multiple screens, a...
TV and hashtags
New Media/Old Media
Political agendas - prousers, construction of media reality.
Affirming/Negotiating/Opposing dominant m...
Twitter as a research space
Big data, 8 years old.
Twitter using data and
data stream as
revenue generation.
Qualitative d...
Twitter as a research space
Hashtags as a research space
Setting parameters
Inviting comment, opinion - but does not capture all
possible responses (l...
TAGSv5: Archiving Tweets
Martin Hawksey - using
Google Spreadsheet to
archive twitter events
(http://mashe.hawksey.
info/2...
Limitations
7 days of backdated tweets (proactive archive)
15000 limit on tweets in entire spreadsheet
Not all tweets are ...
Network Analysis
Twitter dataset #LegallyHigh
Network analysis:
Broadcast, not conversational - individual users
stating their opinion on t...
#LegallyHigh
Tweets: 325 analysed
The programme makers (@AmosPictures1)
Three groups/individuals:
● ‘Psychonaut’
● recreat...
Analysis
Tentative findings: three distinct categories of tweet in
relation to dominant discourse
● Oppositional
● Negotia...
Oppositional
Roughly 7%
“Lots of judgers, how many of u use alcohol and tobacco, bigger killers than all
the illegal drugs...
Negotiatied/ambiguous
Roughly 30%:
“him and his girlfriend are just gurning away, being filmed and testing their
blood pre...
Dominant
Roughly 30%:
“Just watched that #LegallyHigh programme, the people on it are fucking idiots”
“Watching this legal...
Discussion
Majority of tweets mirror dominant discourse
Hard to generalise, public not tweeting for
researcher OR promotin...
Next steps
Develop code frame for understanding tweets,
potential to use for other programme of similar
nature
Explore eth...
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Morally High: Is twitter being used as an online space to challenge socio political discourse around drug use?

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Slides from presentation with Kieran Hamilton at UWS Education/CCI Research Showcase (Media, Tech & Creative Spaces of Education)

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Morally High: Is twitter being used as an online space to challenge socio political discourse around drug use?

  1. 1. Morally High: Is Twitter being used as an online space to challenge socio-political discourse around drug use? Kieran Hamilton - Centre for Alcohol and Drug Studies Jennifer Jones - School of Creative and Cultural Industries University of the West of Scotland
  2. 2. Focus of the paper ● Using available social media data & online research tools to begin to understand viewer perceptions of novel psychoactive substances (aka ‘legal highs’) in context of negative socio-political discourse around drug use and users ● Encoding/Decoding - How was the television show “Legally High” positioned ● Was the tag #legallyhigh used to challenge, reaffirm or negotiate dominant discourse? ● Twitter data, collection & ethics - is public truly public? Contextualisation of the environment
  3. 3. Context: Drugs and the Media ●
  4. 4. Context: The Media, Discourse and Stigma Drug users as folk devils ● Dirty ● Stupid ● Pathological (mental or physical) ● Blameworthy - links to other social issues ● Deviant - ‘other’ ‘outsider’ ● Subhuman
  5. 5. Context: Drug Users and Stigma ● Stigmatising portrayals contribute to discrimination adding social exclusion ● Barrier to treatment and services - increase in mortality and morbidity ● Barrier to recovery - education, training and employment ● Prevents political discussion of alternative approaches to drug policy
  6. 6. NPS: Legal Highs ● Analogue imitations of existing illegal drugs ● Rec user disillusionment over high price, low purity of illegal drugs ● Policy allows unregulated market ● Temporarily ‘legal’ i.e. not banned ● Avoidance of illegal market and criminalisation and convenience ● Little known about harms or ingredients - mislabelling ‘bath salts’ ‘plant food’ - forums
  7. 7. Channel 4’s Legally High: True Stories
  8. 8. #LegallyHigh Three groups/individuals: ● ‘Psychonaut’ ● recreational polydrug users ● ‘Dr Z’ - chemist
  9. 9. New Media/Old Media Broadcast vs interactive, many to many - convergence (Jenkins 2006) Combination of multiple screens, access to broadband and mobile devices Evolution of the media space, ‘talk back’ to the television
  10. 10. TV and hashtags
  11. 11. New Media/Old Media Political agendas - prousers, construction of media reality. Affirming/Negotiating/Opposing dominant messages. Opportunity for alternative narratives, granular and disruptive - the user can become a story Social media as social data, explicit opinion that can be captured & visualised as a response Marketing and promotion, audiences causing programmes to ‘trend’
  12. 12. Twitter as a research space Big data, 8 years old. Twitter using data and data stream as revenue generation. Qualitative data in a quantitative way
  13. 13. Twitter as a research space
  14. 14. Hashtags as a research space Setting parameters Inviting comment, opinion - but does not capture all possible responses (language & discourse) Individual user context, hard to generalise but can visual new social contexts What is the motivation for the TV/programme maker beyond ‘trending’?
  15. 15. TAGSv5: Archiving Tweets Martin Hawksey - using Google Spreadsheet to archive twitter events (http://mashe.hawksey. info/2013/02/twitter- archive-tagsv5/)
  16. 16. Limitations 7 days of backdated tweets (proactive archive) 15000 limit on tweets in entire spreadsheet Not all tweets are archived, limited access to twitter ‘datahose’ Twitter API changes, Twitter blocking 3rd & 4th parties because data is money
  17. 17. Network Analysis
  18. 18. Twitter dataset #LegallyHigh Network analysis: Broadcast, not conversational - individual users stating their opinion on the programme, rarely conversing with others about it
  19. 19. #LegallyHigh Tweets: 325 analysed The programme makers (@AmosPictures1) Three groups/individuals: ● ‘Psychonaut’ ● recreational polydrug users ● ‘Dr Z’ - chemist Difficulty in categorisation - character limit, tone
  20. 20. Analysis Tentative findings: three distinct categories of tweet in relation to dominant discourse ● Oppositional ● Negotiated/ambiguous ● Dominant (Hall 1980) Secondary categories: critical of producers, praise for programme, neutral/ambiguous and unrelated tweets
  21. 21. Oppositional Roughly 7% “Lots of judgers, how many of u use alcohol and tobacco, bigger killers than all the illegal drugs and legal highs put to…” “Just watched #legallyhigh, proper grim in some parts. The UK's drug laws are a total joke. They need changing and people need to be educated” “Catching up on #legallyhigh on channel 4 last night - time for the government to seriously rethink drug legislation”
  22. 22. Negotiatied/ambiguous Roughly 30%: “him and his girlfriend are just gurning away, being filmed and testing their blood pressure #legallyhigh” “If nothing else, #legallyhigh did a very good job of showing just how boring/banal hardcore drug taking is to outsiders” “Watched #legallyhigh last night. It was all so my much simpler when I was18”
  23. 23. Dominant Roughly 30%: “Just watched that #LegallyHigh programme, the people on it are fucking idiots” “Watching this legal High thing. Absolutely crazy. What makes you waste your life like that. #legallyhigh” “Am I really watching two spaced out dirty tramps inject snide ket on my television? #legallyhigh”
  24. 24. Discussion Majority of tweets mirror dominant discourse Hard to generalise, public not tweeting for researcher OR promoting Channel 4 Ethics of using tweets Ephemeral nature of programme context Motivation to tweet through programmes
  25. 25. Next steps Develop code frame for understanding tweets, potential to use for other programme of similar nature Explore ethical considerations of using public data in this context

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