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Social Media and Nationalism: Evolving Concepts


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a presentation delivered at the Glocal Conference: Inside Social Media @ NYUS, Skopje, 17.10.2009

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Social Media and Nationalism: Evolving Concepts

  1. Social Media and Nationalism: Evolving Concepts Anastas Vangeli MA New Media Center Skopje #glocal09
  2. Presentation Outline  Nationalism and Internet: Basic Approaches  Reflections on Nationalism and Social Media  Survey and Examples  Shortcomings  Concluding Remarks
  3. Statement  Social media extension to reality  Nationalism is real, at least discursively  Therefore social media “extend” nationalism  Nationalist sentiment + use of social media = reframed, arguably advanced concept of nationalism
  4. Nationalism and Internet: Basic Approaches  Erica Schlesinger Wass, Addressing the world: national identity and Internet country code domains, Rowman & Littlefield, 2003  Contested domain names: the case of Macedonia: Greek vs. RM Macedonian domains, Macedonian and Bulgarian VMRO domains  Sociological approach: Eriksen and Bakker
  5. Nationalism and Internet: Basic Approaches  T. H. Eriksen: the Internet (media) can nevertheless be instrumental in creating and re- creating a shared, collective past among its users. Examining the role of the Internet in building and maintaining national identities may thus enhance our understanding of the character and the enduring power of national myths and symbols.
  6. Nationalism and Social Media  Major changes brought by social media, both on individual and social level  Fragmentation, decentralization, and the emergence of user-generated content  Social networking, virtual individuals and virtual “collectives”  Nationalist PR and brainstorming via social media
  7. Nationalism and Social Media  Social media related to the emergence and development of strong and durable forms of nationalism-from-below, or a genuine decentralized form of nationalist discourse notably different from everything before  No need for nationalist leaders, elite, budget, headquaters to produce nationalist propaganda  Social Media as an asset to nationalist mobilization
  8. Nationalism and Social Media  The modernist/constructivist/instrumentalist approaches to the nation are challenged with the idea of decentralization as there is no more just one single and most important agency of the nationalist mobilization; there are plenty and they have the possibility to reach anyone.  The ethnosymbolist approach is challenged too: it is not THE exclusive single shared narrative that prevails as a crucial factor of mobilization, but the one which the Wikipedia contributors agree upon.
  9. Nationalism and Social Media  Nation reshaped: one of the basic premises was that the nation is imagined because its members will never meet the rest of their fellows. However, with the possibility that social networking offers, it is very simple for people that share interests to find each other, and befriend each other, even though it is online. The imagined “horizontal friendship” of the nation gradually becomes very concrete – yet no less imagined.
  10. Facebook Nationalism: A Survey  (Methodological shortcomings)  98 respondents  85% said that were invited to a nationalist/patriotic group/page/cause  Only 4% said they have never seen nationalistic/patriotic content being posted  More than half see such contents frequently
  11. Counting the Members of the Nation
  12. 34K Facebook Users Hate Greece
  13. 60K People “Kosovo is Serbia”
  14. 50K Serbs Get Ready to “Welcome” Croats. Time needed: 10 Days
  15. General Impressions: Facebook  More support for “United Macedonia” than “United Ireland”  => Most of nationalist content originates from SEE?  Radical and hate groups sanctioned fast (ex. Knife, Wire, Srebrenica; Holocaust Deniers)
  16. Shortcomings  Generalization of what is nationalism  Replace nationalism with _______ and you might get similar results  Lack of content analysis
  17. Concluding Remarks  Nationalism not outdated even in post-industrial age  Social media content not necessarily progressive  The two (can) coexist  Social media an asset to nationalism  Surging nationalism 2.0?
  18. Thank You