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Common Ground and Missing Links German Volkskunde and Language

Stefan Groth

Language and its relation to culture has been a topic of research in German Volkskunde [folklore studies] from the beginning of the discipline. While dialectological studies, linguistic specificities of local cultures and language in everyday life have been integral parts of Volkskunde for much of the first part of the twentieth century, the discipline saw a shift away from its philological elements towards a social science orientation in post-Second World War developments. During the last decades, the analysis of linguistic dimensions of everyday culture has been on the margin of scholarly activities in Volkskunde. Starting with a historic perspective on the role of language in the beginnings of the discipline, this article discusses the development and decrease of the study of linguistic aspects. It analyses the role of language in contemporary German Volkskunde both in theory and methodology, and offers perspectives on how the discipline could benefit from a renewed focus on linguistic dimensions of everyday culture.

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“Truthy” and “Sticky” Narratives of Euroscepticism

Narratological Approaches to Appropriateness in Digital Contexts

Stefan Groth

This article addresses markers of plausibility and felicity in Eurosceptic narratives on social media that are not based on facts but on sociocultural and contextual appropriateness. Appropriateness is understood here as the contextual fit for specific audiences which includes a range of social and situational factors involved in judgements about the conventionality and propriety of statements. I investigate the construction of appropriateness on Twitter, taking a narrative on the National Health Service in the context of Brexit as an example. I show how Eurosceptic narratives on social media become “truthy” and “sticky”, and how conditions of appropriateness are constructed on Twitter. I bring together approaches from narratology and digital anthropology to show how social media posts in political debate follow distinct evaluation criteria.

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QUANTIFIED CYCLISTS AND STRATIFIED MOTIVES

Stefan Groth

Building on ethnographic work with German recreational cyclists, this paper analyzes competitive motives in hobby races and training. Laying open the construction of non-competitive recreational sports as part of the dichotomy between work and leisure, the analysis turns to competitive stimuli in performative experience and examines their effects. These range from short-term efforts in races and group rides to the structuring of training and race schedules. Looking at how motives fluctuate between different layers of competitiveness, three main developments and currents influencing road cycling are observed: the popularity and possibility of big urban events, the increase of quantification, the transparency and availability of data and knowledge, and the permeability of life worlds to competitive norms.