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Communication Dans Un Congrès Année : 2012

(Re-)Negotiating cultural identity though social media


Context and Theme : The 21st century is distinctly marked as a century of globalization, the era of the internet and, more specifically, the realm of social media. Information becomes more accessible and at the same time undergoes complex processes of homogenization, standardization, and assimilation, whereby human factor diminishes significantly. New communication technologies craft a parallel virtual universe where people's identities are re-created and established by the cultural Hegemony of the West and the Rest challenging core concepts of a multicultural society: ethnic and linguistic diversity. In other words, paradoxically, though (technically) connecting people in and through the worldwide web, new communication technologies create communication environment that does not value multicultural society, ethnic and linguistic diversity, the distinguishing features of multilayered social identities of human beings.Specific Focus and Goal:The following paper explores the ways in which social identities are re-conceptualized through social media (e.g. facebook or twitter). This project further illuminates how social media affect interpersonal as well as intercultural relationships, contribute to the processes of social alienation and cultural escapism, and re-craft traditional distribution of power and privilege of cultural capital. This work suggests new avenues for initiating non-discriminatory cross-cultural dialogues in the alternative format, enabled through the virtual universe. Specifically, considering identity a social construction, this essay critically analyzes the dynamics within the intersectional paradigm of identity formation, enabled through social media. Through problematizing the phenomena of diversity, linguistic capital, humanity and cultural transformation; this project aims to explore alternative, non-discriminatory avenues of negotiation of social identities in the virtual world of social media.Theoretical and Methodological Framework and Specific Content Examples:The theoretical frame of this essay is primarily informed by various feminists of color. The concept of intersectionalty suggested by Collins (2000) is called into question - since different identity layers, such as race, gender, sexuality, and class can be blurred, erased, created, or re-defined in the virtual "social reality" offered by facebook. In other words, one can be selective of re-presenting self, and the classic "visible identities" of race and ethnicity suggested by Alcoff (2003), as well as the social connotation they correlate with, can be made invisible. Although, as Allen (2004) claims, "difference matters", it does in a different way on facebook as it might in the real world. So what really happens to our identities if we face the facebook reality? This essay aims to answer this question by means of critically addressing the following ones: What happens to the (Collins') famous "theory of flesh" if there is no more flesh, no more bodies that are socially "normalized" or "marginalized"? Is it possible to erase some historically oppressive visible identities? Can we de-colonize our existence if our bodies that still bear the bitter traces of colonization no longer limit us? And, at what costs? Does social media posses enough influence to enable a better social belonging? Can it help to re-define relations of power through controlling our choice to disclose in the virtual world? What languages would it require, literally and metaphorically? Carrillo Rowe (2008) once said that "we may move among various stages of belonging throughout our lives - many cross lines of class, national boundaries, racialized communities, places of work, the language communities that hail us, each movement rendering our becoming-other as our relational needs shift over time and across space;" so, can social media re-define our belonging through re-defining who we are? And shape us into what Lugones (1994) describes as the world of travelers who "have the distinct experience of being different in different worlds and ourselves in them"? In other words, do social media contain a possibility of a cultural transformation without sacrificing of one's identity? Does it enable a better cross-cultural understanding through the virtual liberty of creating or disclosing "self" in the virtual world? Or does it threaten us with the loss of our true selves through "cultural amnesia" because we sometimes choose to forget? Contribution: By answering these and other critical questions, the following essay aims to contribute to a better cross-cultural awareness as it relates to the emergence of social media, and critical understanding of possible ways to re-create and communicate one's identity in the current century of globalization and increasing multiculturalism.
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Dates et versions

hal-00840694 , version 1 (02-07-2013)


  • HAL Id : hal-00840694 , version 1


Julia Khrebtan-Hoerhager. (Re-)Negotiating cultural identity though social media. Communiquer dans un monde de normes. L'information et la communication dans les enjeux contemporains de la " mondialisation "., Mar 2012, France. ⟨hal-00840694⟩


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