Hybridity and Superdiversity on Syrian Dissidents' Facebook Pages: An Online Ethnography of Language, Identity and Authenticity
Sinatora, Francesco Luigi
Ryding, Karin C
This work contributes to the discussion about the role of social media in political mobilization by analyzing the writing practices of a group of Syrian dissidents on Facebook. Challenging the assumption that Western technology inhibited political activism, this work shows how Syrian dissidents appropriated a global medium like Facebook to negotiate, construct identities and create political participation. In particular, it demonstrates how the resources and the discursive strategies utilized by two Syrian dissidents before and after the revolution underlay respectively the construction of new individual, cosmopolitan identities and the collective identity of dissidents as authentic Syrians. The latter emerged in concomitance with a claim made by Bashar al-Asad at the beginning of the uprisings, who alleged that protestors were foreign infiltrators spreading religious fragmentation and sedition.The methodology for this study was informed by Androutsopoulos’s (2008b) Discourse-Centred Online Ethnography and Barton and Lee’s (2013) Mixed-Method Approach, which advocate the integration of text analysis with interviews with text producers and readers. This work embraces a social constructionist approach to language and identity (cf. De Fina, Schiffrin and Bamberg 2006), which investigates identity as emergent in discourse and interaction. In addition, it builds on ideas proposed by Blommaert and Rampton (2011) in their agenda for the study of language in superdiversity, including their own call for language ethnography.Among the main findings is that identities are more often indexed through hybrid, including creative and strategically bivalent forms, rather than separate codes. This finding contributes to sociolinguistic theory, highlighting the importance of a hybridity focus for the study of language in superdiversity. Moreover, the emergence and negotiation of new identities in a short period of time and the different values attributed to similar linguistic resources and strategies based on online interaction triggered by socio-political events reinforces the validity of a notion such as superdiversity.
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