Contested social representations of a religious ritual in the Philippines: Text mining online discourses on the Traslación

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The article examines the production of contested social representations of a Philippine religious ritual in online spaces using a mixed methods approach to semantic network analysis. Comments from the online media coverage of the 2019 Traslación were mined from the Facebook pages of the eight most popular Philippine media outlets. A semantic network consisting of collocation of frequently used words was generated using R and Gephi. Network analysis produced three word clusters highlighting bifurcations linguistically, in the use of Filipino or English, and substantively, in contested representations. Analysis of these themes reveals the centrality of discourses reifying the ritual as authentic expressions of faith. A minority of discourses reflect criticisms of the Traslación as idolatry. This reflects the dichotomy of discourses in the Traslación literature. The research demonstrates the relevance of social computing in the analysis of meanings of cultural phenomena across large populations.