Collaborative Mistrust

The Communicative Function of Alternative Facts in Social Media Interactions

in Ethnologia Europaea
Author:
Nils C. Kumkar University of Bremen kumkar@uni-bremen.de

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Understanding social media discourses as conversations and interpreting them as such allows reconstructing the communicative function of alternative facts as a practical achievement making a difference in interactive sensemaking. Using the documentary method approach to conversation analysis for interpreting the doing of alternative facts in conversations on the Facebook pages of the right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), this article shows: (1) doing alternative facts has to be understood in the context of identity performances which bracket questions of facticity; (2) doing alternative facts is part of an overarching conversational dynamic of “suspicious investigation” held together by a shared orientation toward un-truthing mainstream reality construction; (3) and this dynamic immunizes itself against critique via identity performance and identity misrecognition.

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