The Boundaries of Context: Contextual Knowledge in Research on Networked Discussions

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Today’s studies of networked discussions may be divided into theory-driven and data-driven, but both lines of research neglect the role of contextual knowledge in assessment of real-world public discourse. As scholars note, without context, data lose meaning and value; however, there is a striking vacuum of scholarly discussion on how to delineate the relevant context for network discussion studies, as well as what procedures of its description in academic publications should be employed. As a mediator between theories and data-driven results, context has a potential of eliminating the opposition between theory- and data-driven research designs. In an attempt to conceptualize context, we suggest to adapt the long-term experience of cognitive linguistics and critical discourse analysis for developing rigorous procedures of selection, assessment, and explicit description of relevant context(s). We bring attention to the paradox that, in online discussion studies, scholars extract sociologically relevant conclusions from the data of non-sociological nature (that is, either text or network structures), and argue it might be fruitful for selection of appropriate contextual background. After meta-reviewing the conceptual papers on online discussion research and using our own experience in such studies of over 7 years, we suggest three types of contexts for network discussions: cognitive, platform-technological, and media/communicative contexts – that need to be taken into account in network discussion studies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNetworks in the Global World V - Proceedings of NetGloW 2020
EditorsArtem Antonyuk, Nikita Basov
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783030648763
StatePublished - 2021
Event5th Networks in the Global World Conference, NetGloW 2020 - St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
Duration: 7 Jul 20209 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Networks and Systems
ISSN (Print)2367-3370
ISSN (Electronic)2367-3389


Conference5th Networks in the Global World Conference, NetGloW 2020
CountryRussian Federation
CitySt. Petersburg

Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Cognitive context
  • Communicative context
  • Context
  • Data-driven science
  • Networked discussions
  • Research design
  • Social networks
  • Technological context


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