A Comparative Corpus-assisted Discourse Analysis of New Zealand and Chinese Social Media Posts on the Student Climate Strikes
Since 2018, student strikes for climate action have taken place around the world. The Swedish youth activist, Greta Thunberg, initiated this activism through her attempt to encourage more climate action from her government. The movement soon drew global attention and caused extensive discussion online, however the views posted by different cultural groups about the Student Climate Strikes were often quite diverse. In order to examine how social media users from different cultural backgrounds respond to this activism, and the underlying values which have shaped their responses, two corpora of social media posts discussing the strike were developed; one representing New Zealand Twitter users and the other representing Chinese Weibo users. To analyse these two corpora, this study combines corpus linguistics (CL) and critical discourse analysis (CDA). Findings reveal, that while the two communities generally praised the students’ engagement in the climate protests, this occurs in distinctly different ways. For example, the Twitter users are more likely to directly show their appreciation for the Climate Strike, its participants, and its opinion leader Greta Thunberg, while the Weibo users tend to provide suggestions for, and encourage students towards other actions besides joining the strike. Moreover, the Twitter users are more likely to make comments on an individual strike participant, while Weibo users tend to judge the behaviours of the students as a group. Twitter users also often discuss their children from the perspective of parents. In contrast, few Chinese Weibo users take this perspective.