A Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexual Orientation in the "It Gets Better Project"

Laurie Phillips

Abstract


In September 2010, Dan Savage founded the YouTube-based “It Gets Better Project.” A key component within the ongoing social movement to eradicate youth bullying and suicide, IGBP messaging requires further examination of how life “gets better.” Through a Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis and application of Collins’ (2000) matrix of domination framework, this study examines race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Empirical data reveal participants offered little about their own racial and class identities and the impact of those on life getting better but were forthcoming in discussing how their gender and sexual identities impacted their childhood victimization. Concurrently, participants made gross assumptions about viewers’ racial, class, gender, and sexual identities, projecting an overly simplistic message of life improving regardless of viewers’ circumstances or intersectionality. Findings contribute to online participation research concerning how the internet is used for social change and how social inequalities are (re)produced in online projects.

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