A Tweet at the Table
: Black British Identity Expression on Social Media

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


My most nigga-ish feed I have is Twitter I would say. Oh, sorry the ‘Blackest' if we need a more appropriate term. The most niggadocious platform, not just because of what people do or don't do, but it's the sheer varsity of Black people on Twitter in particular. Across nations that somehow, still translates to one central language. Maybe down to the central tenet that is Blackness. - Rianna Jade Parker

In Black British digital networks an ever-changing, hybridised way of speaking has emerged that synthesises aspects of Black dialects from across the diaspora. This style, Black British English, is used to signal belonging to a Black British public. Through participant observation of different digital social media spaces that range from public to private positioning, this study investigates how discursive acts by Black British users contribute to the articulation of a somewhat unitary Black British identity through shared praxis, experience, and meta-narratives of Black British culture.

Using a mixed-methods approach by examining discourse and conducting interviews with members from both Black Facebook groups and Black Twitter allows me to consider digital communities more broadly, including the circumstances under which they are created and the constraints they face. I compare discourse within Black closed Facebook groups, which are limited to Black members, with Black (British) Twitter where the audience is ethnically mixed, but simultaneously creates a semi-restricted public for Black cultural production. This allows for an understanding of if and how discourse varies in different contexts with different audience demographics, and how social network services — and their attendant harms — impact how Black users express themselves.
Date of Award1 Feb 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorZeena Feldman (Supervisor) & Btihaj Ajana (Supervisor)

Cite this