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Alex Georgakopoulou is Professor of Discourse Analysis and Sociolinguistics and Co-Director of the Centre for Language, Discourse & Communication, King’s College, London. She has developed small stories research, a paradigm for studying identities in everyday life stories.

Her latest publications include: Quantified Storytelling: A Narrative Analysis of Metrics on Social Media (with Stefan Iversen and Carsten Stage, 2020, Palgrave) and The Cambridge Handbook of Discourse Studies (co-edited with Anna De Fina, 2020, Cambridge University Press). She is the co-editor of the Routledge Research in Narrative, Interaction & Discourse Series.

Alex describes small stories

Video 1. Lisa Gee / Ego Media

Alex Georgakopoulou, and I’m Professor of Discourse Analysis and Sociolinguistics.

My small stories research started as a bit of a countermove to conventional narrative analysis and biographical research that had really focused too much, in my view, on a particular type of story: the past event, teller-led, nonshared story, normally told in interview situations. I was working with very, very different material in a very different context. So, I was studying, ethnographically, groups of female adolescents in Greece. And subsequently we were doing a project on a multiethnic school here in London. And we were also studying young people’s everyday life interactions, and the sorts of things they were doing there, the ways in which they were talking about themselves, telling stories about their everyday life, relating with their friends and their peer group were very, very different.

So, I felt that there was a need for an alternative paradigm for studying everyday life stories and identities. Small stories is not just about ontology, you know, what is a small story, but it is about contextualization of the phenomenon – what do stories do in their context? And it’s also about epistemology: what does the analyst… what kind of mileage does the analyst get out of looking out for the emergence of plots in the microcosm of everyday experience?

In some ways, the small stories paradigm translated really well into the social media landscape, because, as I have argued in some of my work, small stories research almost prefigured the situation on social media, where the sorts of activity that I was describing with small stories suddenly became very salient, very prevalent, almost the norm in terms of how people were being directed by social media apps to narrate themselves. At the same time, taking a paradigm, a model, that had arisen out of the realities of interaction data – face to face, physically co-present participants – taking that paradigm and using it to research social media, required more than one methodological leap. How do you collect data? What are data on social media? What methods do you use? How does ethnography – which is a method that lent itself really well to the examination of small stories in interactional contexts – how does ethnography translate into the social media landscape?

Alex talks about her Ego Media research

Video 2. Lisa Gee / Ego media

My Ego Media project …well, it’s called life writing of the moment and sharing – the sharing and updating self on social media. And my starting point for this project was what I saw as a built-in logic in social networking sites – especially in their inception – which was about breaking news, about directing users to share their life in snapshots, in little bits of sound bytes: this is what I am doing right now. So I wanted to investigate what this meant for how people actually presented themselves and told stories about themselves online. One of the questions that that I had was quite simply, what are the primary forms – genres if you want to call them – through which users share life in the moment? And another question I had was, what does it mean to be asked, to be encouraged, to actually share your life like that in the moment as you go? What does living and telling do, in terms of your sense of self, but also in terms of the subjectivity that social media apps themselves encourage and seem to value?

I started off very much with the focus on users’ communicative practices – of course in relation with media affordances. But in the course of the project, I realized that I also had to pay attention to how the media apps themselves viewed stories, what facilities they offered – they explicitly designed and branded and offered – to users for sharing memories, for self presentation and for storytelling.


Sharing-Life-in-the-Moment as Small Stories: Participation, Social Relations, and Subjectivity > Sharing the Moment Now as Breaking News

Sharing the Moment Now as Breaking News

Icon of long haired white person with microphone presenting news on TV, zigzag representing lightning behind them
  • Forms and Practices
  • Interaction
  • Time
  • Alexandra Georgakopoulou
  • audience-projection
  • audience selection
  • breaking news
  • conversation analysis
  • digital ethnography & tracking
  • discourse analysis
  • facebook statuses
  • immediacy
  • narrative analysis
  • recontextualization
  • sharing life-in-the-moment
  • small stories research
  • story-linking
  • tellability
  • YouTube
  • YouTube video titles

Sharing-Life-in-the-Moment as Small Stories: Participation, Social Relations, and Subjectivity > Showing the Moment

Showing the Moment

Infographic: tracking small story facilities on social media. Click on i button top left of image for content
  • Forms and Practices
  • Interaction
  • Self
  • Situation
  • Software and the Self
  • Alexandra Georgakopoulou
  • authenticity
  • digital ethnography & tracking
  • discourse analysis
  • facebook
  • female adolescents
  • influencers
  • instagram stories
  • multimodal analysis
  • multimodal semiotic analysis
  • narrative analysis
  • performance
  • plot/emplotment
  • poly-storying
  • positioning analysis
  • rescripting
  • ritual appreciation
  • selfies
  • small stories
  • twitter
  • video
  • visibility
  • yanis varoufakis

Sharing-Life-in-the-Moment as Small Stories: Participation, Social Relations, and Subjectivity > The Social Media Curation of Stories: Stories as a Feature on Snapchat and Instagram

The Social Media Curation of Stories: Stories as a Feature on Snapchat and Instagram

Word cloud visualization showing semantic field of datum (largest words are data; analytic; metric; view; information;statistic))