Friday, June 29, 2007

Cancer Blogs and Travel Blogs

I finished the statistical analysis of the sample of travel blogs I took as a point of comparison with the cancer blog project. The results are interesting:

In terms of post length:
For the cancer blogs, women wrote twice as much as men. For the travel blogs the men wrote a staggering four times as much as the women.

It seems that the topic influences the length of post, where men are more likely to write more about external events and women more likely to write more about experiences that impact them personally.

In terms of evaluative density:
This was the same for both the travel and cancer blogs: women wrote more evaluatively dense posts than the men (and the cancer blogs were slightly more dense in evaluation than the travel blogs, but the differences were tiny here). This suggests that it is the blog format, not the topic that influences the quantity of evaluation used.

In terms of evaluative profile:
This is where the biggest differences lay. Blogs about cancer were rich in the use of Labovian comparators (especially modals and negation). Blogs about travel were rich in Labovian intensifiers and statements of external evaluation 'It was the most amazing time of my life!'.

What do I make of this? Well, it seems that offline genres (like the narratives of illness described by Frank (1994) do influence their online offspring, which is what you might expect. My findings so far suggest that the relationship between blog genre and gender are complex and need to take account of subject matter as well as general blog categories.



Blogger Dr. Jessica Laccetti said...

This sounds like fascinating research Ruth and I hope you'll keep posting your findings here.

I'm sure you already know this, but Melissa Gregg's "Posting With Passion: Blogs and the Politics of Gender" tackles similar preoccupations with gender and blogging. Melissa noted that her own blog seemed to receive more comments from men than from women and this was one reader's reasoning: "The ‘thrust and parry’ approach that many bloggers adopt is, for me, exhausting and unproductive – unless you are training to be a professional debater. This will undoubtedly prove to be a controversial observation, but there seems to be a fair bit of bravado informing these textual performances."

The article is available here:

11:48 AM  
Blogger Ruth Page said...


Thanks for this. Yes, I do know Melissa's essay, but I had forgotten about the specific remarks she makes about commenting, so thanks for reminding me. I've just had to redo some of the analysis, which have changed the results pretty significantly. I'll blog some more on that later.

2:11 AM  

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