Google Me: A Discourse Analysis of the World's Leading Search Engine

By Jaigris Hodson.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Starting from the point of view that human interaction with broader social structures occurs at least in part discursively, this paper suggests that as more and more socializing and knowledge gathering takes place online, the discourses propagated by the leading internet companies are important sites of critique and study. As such, this paper examines the discourses of one of the largest internet companies to consider the narratives that are created and reinforced through Google’s online corporate communications. This paper applies a mixed methods analysis to Google’s weblog from 2006 - 2011. First, a critical discourse analysis is conducted to reveal common themes, and then these themes are interrogated in more detail to reveal the most prominent narratives that Google uses to describe technology, information, and the role of the human technology user. Of particular interest are the questions: How is technology portrayed on the Google blog? What issues does Google identify as being most important? How does Google speak about information? And finally, how does Google construct the citizen subject in its text? Together, these discourses reveal certain ideologies about technology and the role of the human being as consumer that could reinforce Google’s position as an important public service in an information economy. In helping to maintain Google’s elite status with respect to new digital technologies, these discourses may or may not be in the best interests of the citizens who turn to Google for help navigating the online sea of information.

Keywords: Discourse, Technology, Subjectivity, Critical Discourse Analysis, Content Analysis, Google

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.125-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 664.127KB).

Jaigris Hodson

Ph.D. Candidate, Communication and Cultural Studies Program, York and Ryerson Universities, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jaigris Hodson (B.A. Royal Roads University, M.A. York / Ryerson) is a research associate at Ryerson University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the joint Communication and Culture program at York and Ryerson Universities. Her M.A. research focused on applying Habermas’ theory of public reason to the Web 2.0 via three case studies of the participatory Internet applications Facebook, Cute Overload, and Her doctoral research focuses on the discourses used by technology giants Google, Twitter and Facebook, as they present their companies and the role of technology on their corporate weblogs. She has presented at multiple conferences and has published articles in a number of journals, including the Canadian Journal of Communication.


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