Logging into diaspora? Online identity narratives among the Romanian migrants in Ireland
Macri, Diana Gloria (2012) Logging into diaspora? Online identity narratives among the Romanian migrants in Ireland. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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Focusing on identity as a dynamic process, this research investigates the way members of the Romanian community in Ireland narrate and perform their cultural identities. Identities are not just a matter of possessing a certain cultural inventory (Barth, 1969) and they should be understood as relations rather than objects (Madianou, 2005). The way people define themselves and the way they draw boundaries between who they are and who is the ‘other’, is what really gives contour to the blurry concept of identity. Thus I adopt a constructivist approach to identity, one that focuses not solely on the ‘content’ of the diasporic identity (its cultural values, rituals, beliefs, belonging etc.), but also on the boundaries with other groups. It is at the boundaries that symbolic space is negotiated and identities are fiercely debated, constructed and re-constructed.
The role of media in shaping these identities is explored. Through the circulation of cultural values, media have an important impact on the way people view themselves and others. However, this research does not attribute media an all-powerful role in shaping cultures and identities of its audiences, but considers the process through which the audience (in this case ethnic minorities) actively create a meaning for media content.
Furthermore media refer not only to the content transmitted, but also to mediation, creating and maintaining bonds between people and encouraging debate. Habermas widely discussed the idea of a media dominated ‘public sphere’ as a ‘space’ where cultural meanings are circulated and negotiated.
From this perspective this research investigates in depth the role of the Romanian Community Online Discussion Forum (www.romaniancommunity.net) as an essential space for lively debate, a ‘round table’ where Romanians discuss about their lives in Ireland, the ‘fate’ of the motherland, and their diasporic identities.
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