Metacommunicative follow-ups in British, German and Russian political webchats

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The present study explores discursive functions and cross-cultural peculiaritiesof follow-ups containing metacommunicative utterances derived frompolitical live webchats. It seeks to identify some typical patterns of onlinedialogue/polylogueorganisation by filtering out discursive functions of metacommunicativefollow-ups.It is concluded that politicians and their audiences attempt to shape politicalinteraction by inserting evaluative follow-up moves in question-answer orother types of sequences. Besides, non-evaluative follow-ups are also found toplay a role in online political discussion. Both politicians and their audiencessometimes resort to metacommunicative justification, explanation and reasoningto defend their views, redress misunderstanding and otherwise ensureimpression management.As for cross-cultural similarities and differences, negative interdiscursivefollow-ups that contain complaining sequences and requests to punish underperformancein other genres of political discourse occur most frequently inthe British subset of webchat data. Russian politicians criticise the questionersapproximately 2.5 times as often as their British counterparts and almost sixtimes as often as German politicians. Neither German users nor German politicianscomplain about the complexities and challenges of political webchats,whereas both Russian and British users, as well as Russian politicians expressdoubts in the efficiency of this genre of political multi-party interaction.


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