Adaptability in online consumer reviews: Exploring genre dynamics and interactional choices

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Tuija Virtanen
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2017
Journal: Journal of Pragmatics
Volume number: 116
Start page: 77
End page: 90
eISSN: 1879-1387


This paper explores ‘adaptability’ (Verschueren, 1999) as manifest in
online consumer reviews, an increasingly popular and non-trivial mode of
computer-mediated communication which has so far attracted little interest
among linguists of various orientations (but see Vásquez, 2014). The focus is on
genre dynamics in reviews of linguistics textbooks, which lie at the nexus of
academic and promotional genres. As writers of reviews will have to grapple
with some degree of ‘context collapse’ (Marwick and boyd, 2010), the article
includes an investigation of audience design and efforts to socially
authenticate reviewer personae. Findings indicate a major divide in the data
between topic-oriented and author-oriented reviews. In contrast, audience-oriented
reviews are practically missing; rather, imagined audiences tend to appear in
the texts implicitly as similar to the reviewer, suggesting conceptions of a
mass audience as well as specific groupings of general audiences. On top of the
technological and communicative affordances of the retail site, I propose a
notion of ‘pragmatic’ affordances, tied to the ingredients of Verschueren’s
pragmatic theory of adaptability, i.e., its locus, processes and status. The
study increases the understanding of language as an adaptive tool in
self-commodifying online environments.

Last updated on 2020-27-09 at 03:33

Share link