Follow-ups and dialogue in online discussions on French politics
The Internet enables various genres of online political discussions. Two types can be distinguished according to the nature of the participants: discussions about politics between “ordinary citizens” and discussions between “citizens” and “professionals” (e.g., politicians, experts, journalists). Online political discussions can be supported by various technical platforms, such as discussion forums, weblogs, Facebook, Twitter, online newspapers, and “social TV”. This paper focuses on the issue of follow-up moves in these different types of online political discussions (Fetzer, 2007). Are these discussions based on the IRF (Initiate – Respond – Follow-up) exchange structure (Sinclair and Coulthard, 1975)? What are the main communicative and pragmatic functions of follow-ups in online political discussions (e.g., evaluation, request for clarification, refutation)? On a general level, these questions raise the issue of the dialogical or interactional nature of online political discussions. Follow-up messages can be regarded as markers of dialogue in these discussions.