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date: 25 September 2022

Social Medialocked

Social Medialocked

  • Kendra CalhounKendra CalhounUniversity of California Los Angeles


This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Please check back later for the full article.

Foundational linguistic anthropological theories of community, identity, and multimodality, among other topics, offer invaluable insights into communicative practices on social media. Linguistic phenomena on social media also require researchers to adapt and update these theories continually to account for the unique communicative possibilities afforded by constantly evolving digital technology. These principles were originally conceptualized before social media was an integral part of everyday life. –Like linguistic anthropological studies in in-person contexts, linguistic anthropological studies of language online vary in scope, theoretical framing, and methodological approach, depending on the central topics of inquiry. Social media may be studied within a primarily in-person ethnographic project as one of many sites of linguistic practice for members of a community in addition to (or overlapping with) contexts such as work, school, and home. Social media may also be studied as primary sites of analysis through digital ethnographic approaches, typically focused on the communication patterns within a network or community of social media users on a single platform. Linguistic anthropological perspectives on social media are necessarily interdisciplinary and informed by scholarship in related fields, including sociolinguistics, cultural anthropology, communication studies, media studies, and sociology. To this interdisciplinary understanding, linguistic anthropology contributes a unique perspective attuned to the details of linguistic structure and the ways in which language and culture are mutually constitutive.


  • Sociocultural Anthropology