Not for Twitter: Migration as a Silenced Topic in the 2015 Spanish General Election

  • Manuel Alcántara-Plá
  • Ana Ruiz-Sánchez
Part of the Postdisciplinary Studies in Discourse book series (PSDS)


The general election of 20 December 2015, in Spain was marked by the emergence of new parties claiming new ways of understanding politics. For these parties, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) is a key element in democratic regeneration (Mancera & Pano, El discurso político en Twitter. Anthropos: Barcelona, 2013; Fuchs, OccupyMedia!, Zero Books, 2014), and Twitter has been used as a major tool for political communication. This chapter discusses work that is part of an investigation into the discourse strategies used in Twitter during this electoral campaign. Considering silence as a discourse strategy, this chapter discusses research on how some relevant topics in relation to human rights were silenced in digital discussion. This chapter focuses on silences related to migration to Spain.

The project’s main hypothesis is that the extension restrictions imposed by Twitter should affect the discursive strategies (Squires, The Routledge handbook of language and digital communication. Devon: Routledge, 2016), letting the relations between concepts be more clearly established. The approach is based on the comparison of the presence of the topic of immigration in 16,305 tweets from the Twitter accounts of the main political parties and candidates during the 2015 campaign with its presence in the political manifestos and in a large corpus of a million-and-a-half-words from the four main Spanish newspapers. Data show that the topic was so relevant in the latter that it should also have been expected in the tweets, where its presence is marginal.



We thank the editors for the insightful comments on earlier versions of this chapter. Corpus linguistics approaches always call for many helping hands, and we are grateful to the members of our research group “Wor(l)ds Lab” at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. The study reported in this chapter is part of the project “Estrategias de encuadre y articulación del discurso politico en 140 caracteres”, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs (FFI-2014-53958-P).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Alcántara-Plá
    • 1
  • Ana Ruiz-Sánchez
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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