Small stories of a key moment: Exploring discursive construction in digital quarantine stories

Janet HO*, Jiapei GU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This study examines the narratives presented on Quarantine Stories, an online platform where users posted their home-quarantine experiences amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It investigates the recurrent themes in quarantine stories and how tellers constructed their lives in isolation. Quarantine stories submitted worldwide were examined via semantic tag and concordance analyses to identify their recurrent themes and narrative elements. The results reveal that digital storytelling allowed tellers and readers to form a community of shared support beyond spatiotemporal boundaries. Most quarantine stories were characterised by fragmentation and simultaneity, whereas others had Labovian narrative structures. The recurrent themes found (quarantine duration, favourite quarantine spots and self-healing) demonstrated how tellers used time stamps to create meaning. The present study contributes to social media research by suggesting the further categorisation of breaking stories into major and minor and by regarding self-reflection as a sub-type of evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDiscourse Studies
Early online date29 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Faculty Research Grant, Lingnan University: [Grant Number 101884].

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • quarantine
  • self-narratives
  • social media
  • storytelling


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