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Age, Culture, and Communication: Contextualization and Framing in a Playful Online Forum

Guo Zhang

ASIST 2011 Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA, October 9-12, 2011


This paper analyzes frame shifting between playfulness and seriousness and contextualization cues in an extended playful thread in an online Chinese forum. This study takes culture as a necessary complement to computer-mediated discourse analysis, endeavoring to provide a perspective from which to analyze both the linguistic and social dimensions of online communication. CMC acts were classified as bona fide and non-bona fide communication, and categories of contextualization cues were identified. The findings show that in this online environment, frames and contextualization cues can be identified and play a significant role in determining the tone and the expected development of participants' messages. Specifically, contextualization cues help participants identify a certain frame of expected content, and the identified "playful" or "serious" frame directs participants to respond playfully or seriously. In this process, cultural nationality has a stronger effect than participant age.

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