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Javnost - The Public, Vol. 31 - 2024, No. 2

How do English-Speaking Users Discuss the Wuhan Lockdown: A Longitudinal Analysis of Public Spheres on YouTube

, , , pages: 270-292

Drawing on Chantel Mouffe, Mikhail Bakhtin, Judith Butler and others, we examined how English-speaking YouTube users discussed the Wuhan lockdown from late January to June 2020. We argue that news-prompted public spheres are affective, contextualised and short-lived and our findings suggest that the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic outside of China is closely related to the worsening sentiments of English-speaking publics on YouTube. Comments are also significantly associated with the changing severity of the pandemic, reflecting the changing concerns of publics regardless of the central theme of news stories. The divergence of the sentiment scores of user comments is also salient among different media spaces. These findings suggest that a de-localised, universal global public sphere is misleading and more nuanced and contextualised studies are warranted.

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