Lockdown scepticism: Australian and American doom discourse on Reddit





systemic functional linguistics, argumentation, critical discourse studies, Reddit, COVID-19, social media


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent infodemic, user consumption of online news content soared, leading to the issues of doom-scrolling and doom-writing. This type of behaviour may have an adverse impact on individual well-being and increase exposure to misinformation on social networking sites (SNSs), including Reddit. The present critical discourse study combines Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), Pragma-dialectics (PD) and critical theory to explore the roles of power and ideology in a corpus extracted from r/LockdownSkepticismAU and r/LockdownSkepticism, and to evaluate the Redditors’ argumentation. The analysis shows that the users of both subreddits appear to compensate a perceived loss of agency by making improbable statements about the future. The doomers’ arguments, as part of their online deliberations on issues relating to national COVID-19 prevention policy, reveal several fallacies. Linguistic evidence is provided for how biopower, in its ability to further life or death, is constitutive of the social norms to which both subreddit communities subscribe.




How to Cite

Van Poucke, M. (2023). Lockdown scepticism: Australian and American doom discourse on Reddit. Studies in Communication Sciences, 23(2), 201–221. https://doi.org/10.24434/j.scoms.2023.02.3322