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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


DU PLESSIS, Danie  and  DU PLESSIS, Charmaine. Afrikaans on Twitter in a global village: A McLuhanian perspective. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2018, vol.58, n.4-1, pp.788-808. ISSN 2224-7912.

This article uses a qualitative research design to investigate the relevance of McLuhan and McLuhan's (1988) media effects framework within a global village context. The investigation focuses in particular on how the Afrikaans online organisation, as an example of a global village, uses its Twitter profile to promote Afrikaans as a language through the lens of four media effects (laws of media). By asking four questions it is possible to position new and future media in relation to other current and previous media in the media environment. Although McLuhan died before the invention of new media and the Internet, he developed the concepts "global village" and the "medium is the message" almost 60 years ago. The global village represents a metaphorical shrinking of the world because of electronic media. McLuhan never referred to his work as a theory but emphasised that he considered the topic from a phenomenological perspective to find answers to his observations. It is, however, possible to identify theoretical points of departure in his work that serve as a set of criteria to analyse any medium, including Twitter. A total of 1 135 conversations on Twitter of were analysed by doing a deductive thematic analysis which follows a theory-driven perspective. As a micro social media network, Twitter represents the digital era as mainly a communication and information medium and hence plays an important role in the media ecology which could benefit from further descriptions. Even today, Twitter is an influential social media platform where millions of messages are sent globally within minutes. It is, however, the actions of Twitter users that are essential for the platform to function effectively as a communication and information medium. Especially social media provides a new perspective on the four media effects as illustrated by the data as an example of McLuhan's global village metaphor. Almost 40 years after McLuhan's death, his insights remain universal even while digital and social media are still evolving. Many of McLuhan's ideas increasingly form part of the digital age as illustrated by the findings. The findings show how the four media effects are relevant within the context of's Twitter profile as an example of a global village. However, the question can be asked whether the four media effects will stay relevant as Twitter and other social media platforms evolve because of constant changing technologies. A fifth "media effect" is suggested to analyse the finer nuances of Twitter discussions (or tweets).

Keywords : deductive thematic analysis; McLuhan; media effects; media ecology; social media; Twitter.

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