Communicative Connectivities: Mediated Social Networks of Young Russians in the German Diaspora
The enduring changes caused by globalisation processes have become apparent on different levels in the every day lives of many people. Focussing on societal, medial and cultural changes (e.g. processes of migration, de-territorialisation and mediatisation), this dissertation investigates processes of connectivity through the use of digital media by young people with a Russian immigrant background living in Germany. The everyday lives of many young people can – ever more than before – be described as personal media worlds in which a various number of communication technologies play an increasingly important role. They grow up in and with entire (digital) media environments within which the articulation and constitution of social relationships takes place. Framed by a cultural studies perspective, my main interest lies in the analyses of (mobile) communication processes of young diaspora members via mobile phone and internet appropriation. I primarily focus on questions about mobility and connectivity constituted via media communication which often take places on different levels in diasporic communities. In general, migrants can be characterised by a certain biographic local mobility which is linked to a communicative connectivity constituted by media communication. This leads to many of them being characterised by an involvement in different social networks in a diversity of places: the local network consisting of family and friends at their place of living, and the translocal one constituted by connections with relatives and friends in the country of origin, which leads to a social multi-connectivity in their ‘diasporic lives’. The interaction with these different networks takes place via mediated communication, mainly via the mobile phone and the internet. According to this, the following questions will be discussed in my PhD: What are the patterns which characterise young Russians’ communication processes via digital media in the German diaspora? Which meanings do mobile phone and internet have for their social relations with regard to their multi-connected background? And what are the consequences of this mediated connectivity to their diasporic lives regarding their role/place in society? Since my research project is a qualitative study, my empirical analysis is based on qualitative interviews. Additionally, media diaries and drawings of network maps are used. The analysis of the connectivity processes of diaspora members will be carried out from a communication and media studies perspective linked with cultural-theoretical aspects. Central to the project is the meaning of digital media for young Russians and their social networks with respect to the production and articulation of connectivity with different groups of people in different places, thus focussing on theoretical approaches such as translocality and place. The project is dealing with processes of translocal media-sales over the internet, as well as on locally-centralised interpersonal media communication in (local) youth groups. All together, on a broader level, the goal of the research project is to show what role (mobile) digital media play in the constitution of social communication networks in differently-shaped cultural contexts and what meaning media communication has in the contemporary processes of media and cultural change.