Cyber Behaviors of Immigrants

Cyber Behaviors of Immigrants

Wenli Chen (National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) and Wenting Xie (National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0315-8.ch022
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In the 21st Century, due to development of transportation and communication technology, people are living in a more globalized world than ever before. International migration, with changing dynamics, is achieved at high speed and on a large scale. As new media are gaining popularity, the authors are curious about the way immigrants behave in the cyberspace and the consequences their cyber behaviors bring about. In this article, the authors trace the historical development of research on cyber behaviors of immigrants, explore important research topics, examine existing studies, and predict future trend in this area.
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International migration is a process that occurs when an individual moves from the home country to live--temporarily or permanently--in the host country (Chen, 2006). There is a long tradition in examining the role of communication and media use in the cross-culture transition process of immigrants. As stated in the Integrative Communication Theory of Cross-Cultural Adaptation, adaptation, in essence, is communication-based phenomenon, encompassing multiple stages and dimensions of adjustment (Kim, 1987; 1988; 2001). Following this line of thought, a bulk of research explored the way immigrants use different types of communication media to form and maintain interpersonal and mass communication, the way it impacts their intercultural adaptation, and the way the environment forces and personal predispositions exert influence on this process in various social cultural contexts (Kim, 1977; 1978; 1987; DeFleur & Cho, 1957; Hur, 1981; Lee & Tse, 1994; Ryu, 1976; Shah, 1991; Subervi-Velez, 1986; Walker, 1999; Zeigler, 1983).

With the rapid diffusion of the new media, the cyberspace has gradually been recognized as a useful platform for interpersonal and mass communication and information retrieval since 1990s. Researchers began to examine cyber behaviors of immigrants in their studies of communication and immigration. Some studies investigated the use of new media with other traditional media (print press, satellite TV, radio, and telephone) among immigrants (Ali, 2006; Hwang, 1999; Lee, 2005; Louie, 2003; Qian, 2009; Yang, et al., 2004; Zhang, 2007; Zhou & Cai, 2002). Other studies investigated new media consumption exclusively of immigrants (Beom, 2002; Chen, 2010; 2011; Cemalcilar, et al., 2005; Fan, 2008; Kim, et al., 2009; Weiskopf & Kissau, 2008; Kong, 2006; Lee, et al., 2011; liu, 1996; Melkote & Liu, 2000; Smith & Shwalb, 2007; Tsai, 2006; Wang, et al.,2009; Wang & Sun, 2009; Ye, 2005; 2006a; 2006b).

According to Kim (2001), out of the cross-culture transformation emerges an “intercultural identity” in immigrant. In the realm of immigration research, the conceptualization of this “identity” is forever evolving and is with mounting discussion. With advances in long-distance communication technologies, it is of increasing ease for immigrants to maintain social and cultural ties with the homeland. So instead of a complete decoupling from the old society and a thorough convergence with the new culture, an immigrant is constantly constructing a new self according to his/her psychological, social-cultural, economic and political states in the transitional process. There is increasing awareness to conceive immigrant identity as a multi-dimensional and dynamic construct.

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