(De)legitimation of power of agency. A multimodal critical analysis of social practices during COVID-19 pandemic in Romania

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a real challenge to national and international authorities, bringing social and ideological implications. The shift from urgency to action and an appropriate message tailoring are essential in such a sanitary crisis. This article presents a multimodal critical discourse analysis of the Facebook posts of the Romanian Ministry of Health and of the online users’ comments. The aim of the study is to examine how the Romanian authority and citizens use semiotic resources (multimodal texts) in order to give meaning and make meaning of the social practices related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings reveal that the Romanian authority mainly focused its messages on (de)legitimizing the actions of various abstract participants in an information campaign meant to counter fake news. The salience of behavioural processes-as-instructions highlighted a reduced agency of the Ministry of Health and an increased agency for Romanian citizens. The online users employed polarization as a discursive strategy to legitimate the Romanian authority’s calls-to-action that challenge the conservative liberalism ideology of the government and to delegitimate the tardiness of these actions

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