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Appears in Collections:Communications, Media and Culture eTheses
Title: Constructing collective identities in the Internet age: a case study of Taiwanese-based internet forums
Author(s): Wang, Yow-Jiun
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The thesis presents a case study of asynchronous Taiwanese-based internet forums, aimed at exploring new perspectives in the question of collective identity construction via intemet-forum participation. It develops a discursive-constructivist approach that incorporates the theories and models of Goffman, Butler, Laclau & Mouffe and Melucci, investigating the performative, antagonistic and negotiated dimensions of identities. Methodologically, it deploys a series of analytic tools from linguistics and micro sociology, as well as the methods of content analysis and online ethnography. Focusing on the questions of gay identities and national identities, the case study tracks down ten years of archives of the local gay forums and political forums, examining the ways in which collective identities take form through speech performance and social interactions in cyberspace. The case analysis of the gay forums finds that the internet gives rise to networked online gay communities, where individual gays’ subject-positions are performed. Meanwhile, the forums permit the reconstruction of the Other of the gay community, which ironically results in the creation of an internal Other among the community. Furthermore, the forums allow their grassroots participants to engage in the local gay movement, which eventually leads to change in the public identity of the movement. The case of national identity shows that antagonism between the two oppositional nationalisms in Taiwan penetrates identity practices in this domain; cyberspace is no exception. The local political forums become the space for marking, creating and stigmatising the Other. Nevertheless, they also provide the space for negotiated interactions concerning identity-oriented national projects, as well as facilitate dialogues between Chinese and Taiwanese online participants on the question of Taiwan’s future. To conclude, internet forums do not necessarily lead to the devolution of symbolic and political power of their participants. Mainstream discourses still deeply influence the discourses in cyberspace. Grassroots participation in debates concerning social projects may intervene in decision-making; however, this is dependent on the participants’ access to valid information and the decision makers’ attitudes towards the grassroots forums. Finally, while connecting people together, the internet is also disuniting people in spreading antagonisms and animosity.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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