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Defence strategies in an online community of caregivers


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to understand caregivers’ discursive constructions and responses to their unwanted (family and social) role as resulting in exchanges on social media. Online group platforms are understood as particularly suitable for the expression of intimate feelings among adults, for meeting and exhibiting stigma issues, and for the circulation of information and support (Suler, 2004; McCormack, 2010; Pounds et al., 2018). Design/methodology/approach This paper draws from digital Conversation Analysis (Giles et al., 2015), and considers data after combining quantitative (corpus analysis) and qualitative methods, from a critical discourse analysis perspective. The Stereotype Content Model (SCM; Fiske et al., 2002) is used together with collocation analysis to understand categorisations, which ultimately result in a defence strategy (Assimakopoulos et al., 2017) to negotiate the Self and the Others (Tannen, 1992). Findings Considering that the digital environment allows a discursive negotiation of identities, data suggest that these interactions are expressions of membership construction, group solidarity and empowerment, that normalise and legitimise emotions with the ultimate goal of (self-)acceptance. Originality/value This study provides a basis for further research on caregivers’ self-positioning in power-relations with others.