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What the Poor do to Survive. (Im)Politeness and Classism in Brazilian Twitter

Ana Larissa Adorno Marciotto Oliveira, Marisa Mendonça Carneiro, Gustavo Ximenes Cunha

Abstract: Research on (im)politeness (CULPEPER; HAUGH; KÁDÁR, 2017) has widely replaced the term ‘culture’ with the concept of ‘community of practice’, or by the umbrella-like term ‘interactional practices’ (MILLS, 2015, p. 30; MILLS; KÁDÁR, 2011). From this view, this study aims at examining hashtags related to the topic #What the poor do to survive, which include #thingspoorpeopledo (#coisasquepobrefaz) and three other variants, #thatispoverty (#pobrezaéissoaí), #poverty (#pobreza), and #poor (#pobre). To do that, data were collected from Twitter posts published in Brazilian Portuguese and listed among the trending topics in 2017 and in 2019. After we collected the posts and their accompanying hashtags, a qualitative analysis was performed, aiming at describing and categorizing the impoliteness strategies identified. In this phase of the research, over 400 tweets containing hashtags were analyzed. We found that the hashtags investigated primarily aimed at exchanging humorous messages, mostly associated with social class division in Brazil. At the same time, our findings also showed that the hashtags signalled a recurrent verbal behavior shared by a community of practice assembled under a tag (BRUNS; BURGESS, 2011; STARBIRD; PALEN, 2011). Additionally, our data demonstrated that hashtags had a dual purpose: while they employed mock impoliteness and sarcasm to reinforce valid social norms, they also promoted a jocular debate on classism and ideology in Brazil.
Keywords: survive / community of practice / MILLS / KÁDÁR / behavior / hashtags / poor / Brazilian

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