Moral Transgression and the Meanings Making in Online Discussions

Moral Transgression and the Meanings Making in Online Discussions

Ushkin S.G.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Leading Researcher of the social processes monitoring department of the Scientific Center of Social-Economic Monitoring State Institution, Saransk, Russia

ID of the Article: 7973

The reported study was funded by RFBR, project No. 19-011-00082.

For citation:

Ushkin S.G. Moral Transgression and the Meanings Making in Online Discussions. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2020. No 1. P. 65-73


This article examines how users of virtual network communities react to violations of existing norms and values, what meanings they attach to immoral acts and how they assume the functions of public control. The empirical base of the study was user comments on a particular case of the burning of the Russian flag in Saransk, presented in one of the city’s public media. In total, we analyzed 955 messages, there have been four waves of online discussions. The results suggest that the burning of the Russian flag for most users is a traumatic event, a threat to public ideals of good. Network discussions have become a center of attraction for those who want to feel the evil on themselves, triggering a schismogenetic chain of events. Gradually the attackers and victim were reversed, as the first actively used cyber-bullying. In justification, political and ideological meanings were utilized, which, obviously, were not originally intended. Attempts to misuse collective historical memory are recorded, which also affected the discussion. It is concluded that urban network communities are already an embodiment of monitor democracy. This democracy brings us closer to the ideals of civil society, but is requiring external regulation due to lack of discussion culture in conflict situations and generation of new meanings of constructing destructive fake news.

moral transgression; social media; network discussions; critical discourse analysis
Content No 1, 2020