Ukrainian Elites Discourse in Respect of The Donbass Territory and Population of 2009-2018: Analysis of The National Facebook Segment

Alexey А. Tokarev – PhD in Political Science, Senior Research Fellow at Center for Global Issues, Institute for International Studies of MGIMO–University. E-mail: a.tokarev@inno.mgimo.ru.
 
Archive: 
Вся статья: 

DOI 10.24833/2071-8160-2018-6-63-194-211 (Read the article in PDF)

The conflict in the South-East Ukraine has acquired a protracted character, primarily due to the lack of consensus among key players. Ukrainian elites and society have not formed a consolidated position in relation to the Donbas. The study attempts to answer the question: what are the specifics and dynamics of the Ukrainian elites' discourse in relation to the Donbas over the past 10 years?

The aim of the study is to analyze the semantics, frequency and emotionality of the two major discourses – in relation to the population and the territory of Donbas – using the analysis of the national Facebook segment. This work proceeded in several stages: from November 2016, when my colleagues and I began brainstorming, until May 2018, when the final schedules were obtained: the allocation of opinion leaders in the social network, downloading their posts from January 1, 2009 to February 15, 2018, the isolation from the discourse of posts devoted to the Donbas, the creation of a vocabulary that allows differentiating discourses according to the degree of their emotionality, an assessment of their frequency degree, an explanation of the discourses dynamics through event analysis. The database consists of 653 662 739 characters in 7 languages from 1,069,687 posts of 376 Ukrainian Facebook top-bloggers, downloaded and analyzed using the information-analytical system «Semantic Archive». The results of the analysis show that, firstly, the «birth» of discourses about both the territory and the population is the 2013-2014 boundary. Before that, the frequency of mentioning the Donbas is zero. Secondly, unlike the territory in relation to the population there is a significant negative discourse, and it has slightly increased in relative degree after 2014, but has always existed. Regarding the territory, on the contrary, the hatred discourse is absent. The neutral discourse dominates this agenda. At the very beginning of the period under review, it displaces positive discourse, showing how great is the uncertainty with regard to the territory, maintaining its relative share, beginning in January 2011. The number of positive and negative discourses in relation to the territory is a multiple of that for the population, which allows to draw conclusions about the high degree of uncertainty of elites in relation to the territory and the low probability of the transition of this neutral discourse into positive ones.

Key words: social networks analysis (SNA), Facebook, Ukraine, conflict, Donbass, sentiment analysis, content analysis.

References
1. Azarov A.A. Brodovskaya E.V. Dmitrieva O.V. Dombrovskaya A.Yu., Fil'chenkov A.A. Strategii formirovaniya ustanovok protestnogo povedeniya v seti internet: opyt primeneniya kibermetricheskogo analiza (na primere evromajdana, noyabr' 2013 g.) [Strategies for the formation of attitudes of protest behavior in the Internet: the experience of using cybermetric analysis (using the example of EuroMaidan, November 2013)]. Monitoring obshchestvennogo mneniya, 2014, no. 3, pp. 36 – 74 (in Russian).
2. Batura T.V. Metody analiza komp'yuternykh social'nykh setei [Methods for analyzing computer social networks]. Vestnik NGU. Seriya: Informacionnye tekhnologii, 2012, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 13–28 (in Russian).
3. Korshunov A. Analiz social'nykh setei: metody i prilozheniya [Analysis of social networks: methods and applications]. Trudy Instituta Sistemnogo Programmirovaniya RAN, 2014, no.1, pp. 439–456 (in Russian).
4. Lysenko M.V., Davydov A.A. Yegipetskaya revolyutsiya v Tvittere − bezmasshtabnaya set? [Egyptian revolution on Twitter]. Sistemnyy monitoring globalnykh i regionalnykh riskov: Arabskaya vesna 2011 [System monitoring of global and regional risks: Arab Spring 2011]. Moscow, LKI Publ., 2012. Pp. 307 – 312. (In Russian)
5. Maltseva D.V. Setevoy podkhod kak fenomen sotsiologicheskoy teorii [Network approach as a phenomenon of sociological theory]. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya, 2018, no. 4, pp. 3 – 14. (In Russian)
6. Nigmatullina K.R., Bodrunova S.S. Metodika kachestvennogo analiza diskussiy v Twitter [Method of qualitative analysis of discussions in Twitter]. Mediaskop, 2017, iss. 1. Available at: http://www.mediascope.ru/2293 (Accessed: 08.07.2018). (In Russian).
7. Pakhalyuk K. Chto znachit izuchat politicheskiy diskurs? Nekratkiy obzor teoriy i metodov [What does it mean to study political discourse? Nekratky review of theories and methods] Gefter, 18.05.2018. Available at: http://gefter.ru/ archive/24982 (Accessed: 01.12.2018). (In Russian).
8. Balci Ş., Gölcü A. The Role and Impacts of Social Media in Social Movements: “Example of the Arab Spring”. The Asian Conference on the Social Sciences 2013. Official Conference Proceedings, May 2013, Osaka, Japan, pp. 269-281.
9. Bohdanova T. Unexpected revolution: the role of social media in Ukraine’s Euromaidan uprising. European View, 2014, vol. 13, pp. 133–142.
10. Etling B. Russia, Ukraine, and the West: Social Media Sentiment in the Euromaidan Protests. Berkman Center Research, 2014, no. 2014–13. 14 p. DOI: 10.2139/ ssrn.2501761
11. Goroshko O. Leaders 2.0 through Crisis Communications in Ukraine: Or Facebook in Use. Chorzowskie Studia Polityczne, 2014, no. 8, pp. 177–197.
12. Khondker H.H. Role of the New Media in the Arab Spring. Globalizations, 2011, vol. 8, no. 5, pp. 675–679.
13. Lim M. Clicks, Cabs, and Coffee Houses: Social Media and Oppositional Movements in Egypt, 2004–2011. Journal of Communication, 2012, no. 62, pp. 231– 324.
14. MacDuffee Metzger M., Joshua A. Tucker Social Media and EuroMaidan: A Review Essay. Slavic Review, 2017, vol. 76, no. 1, pp. 169–191. DOI: 10.1017/slr.2017.16
15. Minakov M. Novorossiya and the Transnationalism of Unrecognized Post–Soviet Nations. Transnational Ukraine? Networks and Ties that Influence(d) Contemporar Ukraine. Ed. by T.Beichelt, S.Worschech. Stuttgart, Ibedem Publ., 2017. Pp. 68-88.
16. Lutsevych O. How to finish a revolution: Civil society and democracy in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Chatam House Publ., 2012. 20 p.
17. Onuch O. EuroMaidan Protests in Ukraine: Social Media Versus Social Networks. Problems of Post–Communism, 2015, vol. 62, no. 4, pp. 217–235.
18. Pashakhin S. Topic Modeling for Frame Analysis of News Media. Proceedings of the AINL FRUCT 2016. Pp. 103-105.
19. Ronzhyn A. The use of Facebook and Twitter During the 2013–2014 Protests in Ukraine. Proceedings of the European Conference on Social Media. Ed. by Rospigliosi A., Greener S. Brighton, UK, July 2014. Pp. 442-449.