Rhetorical moves and identity performance in online child sexual abuse interactions

Chiang, Emily (2019). Rhetorical moves and identity performance in online child sexual abuse interactions. PHD thesis, Aston University.

Abstract

Online child sexual abuse (OCSA) is a pervasive problem facilitated by the anonymity afforded to offenders online. From a largely social constructionist perspective, this thesis explores linguistic expressions of identity by participants across a range of OCSA interactions, including offenders and suspected offenders, victims, and undercover police officers. The thesis is structured around three individual studies, each involving a different abusive interaction type. Each study employs Swales’ (1981; 1990) move analysis framework, exploring how participants use rhetorical moves as a resource for identity performance. Study 1 concerns a convicted offender who strategically cycled through numerous adopted personas when interacting with victims online. It considers his performance of various identity positions through his use of rhetorical moves across different personas. One persona is found to diverge significantly from the rest, and is identified as a possible reflection of the offender’s ‘home identity’. Study 2 considers interactions between suspected offenders and undercover police officers posing as offenders. It compares the participants’ move use and explores linguistic realisations of supportive exchanges, finding that aside a few notable differences, undercover officers perform the offender identity similarly to genuine suspected offenders. Study 3 explores dark web forum posts authored by ‘newbies’ attempting to join existing online communities of suspected offenders. It examines the identity positions performed in the posts and considers how positions of competence and expertise contribute to the persuasive process of seeking membership into online offending communities. Taking findings from these studies, the thesis discusses the possible contributions of move analysis to OCSA research and how rhetorical moves are used as a resource for identity performance, and offers an approach to identity analysis based on rhetorical moves. It concludes by arguing for move analysis as a useful goal-centred approach to identity investigation and describes potential implications of this work for law-enforcement, education and research.

Divisions: Languages & Social Sciences > English
Additional Information: If you have discovered material in Aston Research Explorer which is unlawful e.g. breaches copyright, (either yours or that of a third party) or any other law, including but not limited to those relating to patent, trademark, confidentiality, data protection, obscenity, defamation, libel, then please read our Takedown Policy and contact the service immediately.
Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: online child sexual abuse,identity,move analysis,rhetorical move,strategies
Completed Date: 2019-04
Authors: Chiang, Emily

Download

[img] | Preview

[img]

Access Restriction: Restricted to Repository staff only


Export / Share Citation


Statistics

Additional statistics for this record