Preliminary Survey: Tumblr, Language, & Politics

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Preliminary Survey: Tumblr, Language, & Politics

Welcome! The purpose of this survey is to collect preliminary data about how people use the social media website and to develop a network of potential informants for future stages of this research project. This research is being conducted for the completion of a doctoral dissertation in Linguistic Anthropology about the intersection of community language practices, the internet, and political/civic engagement.

Requirements for participation:
  • Have an active Tumblr account OR have had an active Tumblr account sometime in the past.
  • Don't be a robot. Maybe the semiotic and affective practices of robots will be my next project, but sticking to humans for the moment.

1. First and foremost: please feel free to answer only the portions that you wish! While more information is always great, I appreciate the time that you are spending on this questionnaire and are happy to collect any of the data you wish to share, no matter the amount. So please only share what you feel comfortable sharing. (This includes the demographic information.) 

2. In the course of the questionnaire, you will be guided through three pages. 
  • The first page asks 10 demographic and political-opinion questions. 
  • The second page asks 10 questions about your experiences on and thoughts about Tumblr. 
  • On the third page, I ask some questions about your interest in participating further in this research project.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who are you?
Hi! I’m a doctoral student in linguistic anthropology doing research on the intersection of language, the internet, and politics. I currently live in Philadelphia with a cat called Havoc, an awesome blue-haired roommate, and four shrimp named Marigold, Augustus, Sydney, and Jupiter.

Why are you doing research on Tumblr? 
When I began my graduate program in 2013, I actually didn’t intend to research Tumblr. My work in undergrad looked at how K-12 schools reproduce social inequalities through the strategies that they use to teach literacy and how we can combat that with different sorts of curriculums. I had planned to spin off from that project with a question along the lines of: “okay, so this is what is happening in schools, but kids spend tons of time in other spaces learning other literacy practices. Like the internet. How does that affect things? What can we learn from what people are doing online?”

However, as I progressed through my coursework, I kept seeing things on Tumblr that caught my academic interest – specifically, all the neat ways we use language here, the weird meme-related humor, and all the social justice content. The preliminary fieldwork I was doing in classrooms and youth summer programs just wasn’t getting at some of the questions I found really interesting. So I decided that instead of starting with a classroom and then finding out what the students in it do online, I would reverse the framing of my project and start in an online space. And here we are!

All of this (the survey questions, the format, etc) seems really informal — are you sure this a real research project?
Promise! Welcome to the field of anthropology, where our most popular research methodology is often described as “rigorous hanging out”. In more traditional anthropological studies, the researcher moves in to the area they are interested in studying and then goes out, meets their neighbors, joins in with community events, etc. The internet, particularly the parts of the internet structured like Tumblr, where there really isn’t a single bounded “place” to go, makes this a little trickier. Therefore, one major objective of this initial survey is really just to gather a group of people to, well, hang out with. Or, put into fancier academic terms: develop a network of potential informants.

Have more questions? 
Check out my FAQ over on Tumblr! Tumblr, Language, & Politics Project FAQ

Have a question that isn't answered by the FAQ here or on Tumblr?
You can contact me by:
  • All submitted materials will be kept strictly confidential. The only person who will have access to them will be me, the researcher conducting this study. Any future description or analysis of the data will be done in such a way that no identifying information is included.
  • This data is entirely preliminary and WILL NOT be used in any publications. 
  • If at any point you would like your data deleted, please contact me and I will immediately do so.

What do I get for completing this survey?
Beside my undying gratitude and the opportunity to be a part of research that I hope will make a positive impact in the world; by completing this survey, you will be able to enter the drawing to win a $25 gift card. (It will be e-mailed to you, so no real life contact information needed.)

Thank you so much for taking the time to complete my survey. I sincerely appreciate every response that I get.

Click on the "Next" button below to get started!
1. I have read the description of this survey and I'm ready to get started:
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