Two Sides to Every Story: Investigating changes in cultural attitudes using discourse analysis in computer-mediated infidelity discussions
Date of Award
Master of Arts
Jeff T. Larsen
Jeff T. Larsen, Craig D. Howard, Kristina Coop Gordon
Despite overt cultural consensus on the reprehensible nature of infidelity, prevalence rates of infidelity behavior remain elevated— highlighting a substantial discrepancy between widely-accepted infidelity practices and actual behavior. To understand this incongruence and elucidate the cultural meaning of infidelity, communication surrounding infidelity warrants extensive scrutiny. The study employs methods of discourse analysis to investigate three Reddit threads from 2017, 2019, and 2021, that address infidelity. I make a case that recent changes in the discourse surrounding infidelity reflect changes in broader societal attitudes and accepted practices concerning infidelity. Using empirical methods of discourse analysis, I conducted three analytical procedures to describe the computer-mediated communication surrounding infidelity on Reddit. These descriptions focus on the structural descriptive statistics and modified speech act analysis of the user discourse. Findings indicate that the changes in the user discourse structure over the past five years signify cultural advancements toward more supportive perspectives of infidelity. The analyses evidence stronger convictions surrounding infidelity, yet they also reveal increased uncertainty regarding the criteria for infidelity. Overall, the Reddit discourse signals a potential cultural shift toward higher rates of self-disclosure and prosocial support for those who have participated in or been affected by acts of infidelity.
DiPillo, Michaela J., "Two Sides to Every Story: Investigating changes in cultural attitudes using discourse analysis in computer-mediated infidelity discussions. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2022.