1st Edition

The Discursive Construction of the Modern Political Self Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Age of Social Media

By Jacqueline Aiello Copyright 2023
    140 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    140 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the impact of new media on politicians’ construction, presentation, and dissemination of their political selves, focusing on the social media presence of US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to offer new insights into the landscape of contemporary political discourse.

    Drawing on work from corpus linguistics, interactional sociolinguistics, and critical discourse analysis, Aiello charts the ways in which the politician employed a range of discursive strategies via social media in her first campaign to introduce her political identity to a wider audience, and the subsequent responses by media outlets. The volume examines how she continued to solidify her political agenda throughout the course of her tenure, unpacking her crafting of counterattacks and “clapbacks,” in particular, in counteracting delegitimizing attacks from both mainstream media outlets and user-generated content. Aiello brings these insights together to offer a more holistic understanding of American political discourse but also the intersection of language, power, ideology, and the role of social media in modern political campaigns and populist discourses.

    The book will be of interest to students and scholars in digital communication, political communication, critical discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics.

    Table of contents

    1. Introduction

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    Aims of the book

    Overarching analytic approaches

    Contents of the book

    2. Modern political discourse: Innovations and revisited traditions


    Political discourse in the post-digital era

    The language of populism

    3. The discursive construction, delegitimization, and defense of political identities


    Constructing (political) selves: positioning, narrative, and coherence

    Contesting the opposition: delegitimization and recontextualization

    Taking a stance in the defense of identities

    4. "It’s time for one of us": the construction of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political self during her first campaign


    The selected viral content of Ocasio-Cortez’s first campaign

    The construction of a coherent political self in The Courage to Change

    A tweeted narrative

    Narrating Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: novelty and populism in her campaign ad and tweets

    5. Attacks on a progressive newcomer: Fox News coverage and its uptake online

    The anti-AOC offensive


    Dismantling legitimacy on Fox News

    The recontextualization of Ocasio-Cortez’s words onto Fox News

    Fox News coverage of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    YouTube comments about Fox News coverage

    6. "Get used to me slaying": The discursive realization of a ‘clapback queen’


    Data and Methods

    "I am incredibly flattered," "This is not about me:" defense, rebuttal, and reprisal on the House floor

    "Don’t hate me cause you ain’t me, fellas": expressing (dis)alignment on Twitter


    7. The identity work of a modern leader


    Narrating a new political identity

    Subverting the narrative

    Safeguarding the narrative

    Looking ahead




    Jacqueline Aiello is Assistant Professor at University of Ferrara, Italy. She earned her doctorate in TESOL from New York University. She is the author of Negotiating Englishes and English-speaking Identities (2018, Routledge), for which she was awarded the 2019 AIA Junior Book Prize.