Aggressive complaining on Social Media: The case of #MuckyMerton

Dimitra Vladimirou, Juliane House, Dániel Z. Kádár

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
453 Downloads (Pure)


This paper examines the ways in which the speech act of complaint is realised in social media contexts. To date, little attention has been devoted to the realisation of this speech act in online settings, despite the fact that such settings provide different affordances for complaining than many of their spoken and written counterparts. In the current study, we aim to make a step towards filling this knowledge gap by demonstrating that in online settings – in particular, social media – complaining can become very intensive and aggressive. This is because social media operates with features such as complex participation and multimodality, which allow users to reflect on each other's complaints in an increasingly aggressive escalatory manner, especially when these users are united by a joint cause. We deploy the concepts of ‘addressivity’ and ‘diachronicity’ to conceptualise those features of social media that boost complaint to become aggressive. As a case study, we investigate an online protest against the waste management policy of the Borough of Merton in London.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Early online date3 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Addressivity
  • Aggression
  • Diachronicity
  • Online complaints
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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