Online activism and redress for institutional child abuse: function and rhetoric in survivor advocacy group tweets
In Australia, survivor advocacy groups have been closely engaged with the emergence and development of policy and redress responses to institutional child abuse. Their activities and influence in this respect have been under-researched. This study focuses on the use of Twitter, a tool increasingly employed by activist groups in their lobbying repertoires. Using content and thematic analysis, tweets of 15 non-survivor led advocacy groups, and one survivor-led organisation—Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN)—referring to ‘redress’ were analysed for rhetorical content (via Aristotle’s traditional framework of ethos, pathos, and logos) and communication purposes using three broad functional areas defined by Lovejoy and Saxton (2012). In keeping with Lovejoy and Saxton’s (2012) framework, the results found that for both non-survivor led advocacy groups and CLAN the primary function of their use of Twitter was to convey information to audiences. However, the integrated use of the rhetoric framework with the function framework revealed markedly different lobbying styles between the non-survivor led advocacy groups and CLAN with the latter pursuing a more confrontational and direct style of lobbying in communications. CLAN also overwhelmingly pursued emotion-focussed rhetoric in lobbying communications.