Cultural Identity Preservation Through Social Media: Refugees and Community

Cultural Identity Preservation Through Social Media: Refugees and Community

Nurhayat Bilge (Florida International University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3784-7.ch001

Abstract

This chapter explores cultural identity negotiation on social media for a specific refugee group. Previous research indicates the importance of a sense of community and cultural preservation in regards to establishing and maintaining a cultural identity for this specific group. The group, Meskhetian Turks, is an example of ethnic identity and an established ethnicity through shared history and struggle. This chapter focuses on the virtual implications of the group's identity in social media. More specifically, it explores how social media platforms serve as a cultural unifier, where cultural identity is maintained and perpetuated in the face of an unattainable physical homeland.
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Introduction

Social media is a part of everyday life for many people around the world. People use social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to express opinions, connect with people, share life events, and perform identities. Ease of reach and global connectivity make social media immensely influential socially, politically, and culturally for many cultural groups of nationalities, social and economic classes, races, sexualities, and ethnicities. The last group, ethnicities, is the focus of this chapter.

More specifically, the chapter aims to explore how refugee groups utilize social media for purposes of ethnic identity establishment and maintenance. To achieve this goal, one specific ethnic group’s social media utilization is analyzed. The group, called Meskhetian Turks, are refugees, who are scattered in nine countries. Hence, without any physical borders or political systems to unite them, the group’s social media utilization provides an example of ethnic identity’s visibility and strength. To this end, the chapter first provides a framework for ethnicity and ethnic identity, then examines literature regarding ethnicity and ethnic identity in social media, after which two studies regarding Meskhetian Turks are explored. The main objective of the chapter is to examine the influence of social media on ethnic identity formation and preservation, which helps further research on both ethnic identities and intercultural new media.

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