Twitter issue response hashtags as affordances for momentary connectedness

Chamil Rathnayake, Daniel Suthers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Online activity is commonly conceptualized in social media studies using theoretical frameworks defined for offline contexts, such as public sphere, publics, and communities. Although this approach has its merits, especially in terms of providing theoretical foundations to describe new phenomena, this approach limits conceptualization of online activity to offline behavioural patterns. This paper responds to calls for conceptual departures by theorizing Twitter issue-response hashtags as instances of 'momentary connectedness', topical structures of momentary connectivity that include original tweets, retweets, 'quote tweets', reply and mention clusters, sharing via direct messages, and liking. Most of these forms of uptake in Twitter issue-response spaces involve imagined audiences, making it difficult to situate them in concrete conceptual categories, such as publics and communities. Further complicating the public-private distinction, tweets that are public can enter the private realm via the option of direct messaging. Momentary connectedness accepts the multifaceted nature of Twitter hashtag networks by seeing them as constructed through multiple forms of uptake and being situated in private and public domains, thus providing a more natively digital conceptualization that recognizes the permeability of online communication across boundaries. These concepts are illustrated with a case study.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2017
Event8th International Conference on Social Media and Society - , Canada
Duration: 28 Jul 201730 Jul 2017


Other8th International Conference on Social Media and Society
Internet address


  • twitter
  • social media
  • online activity
  • momentary connectedness


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