Media Identities and Youth in Latvia: Media Appropriation of Latvian and Russian speaking Youth in Youth Cultural Communities
Related to the processes of individualisation and globalization of media communication one can speak about new forms of processes, of vergesellschaftung (Weber, 1922; Krotz, 2005), which has an impact on individuals, their relationships, the self-perceptions and orientations, as well as on social and cultural institutions. Andreas Hepp (2004) speaks in this context about deterritorial communities, a network of imagined communities, existing across different territories and nations – i.e. transculturally. Some examples of such communities are diasporas, commercial youth cultures and other popular culture groups that emerge in the process of the appropriation of cultural-industrial products in the concrete translocal world. The main objective of the PhD project is to explore the community and identity formation of Latvian and Russian speaking youth in Latvia from a perspective of media and communication science and youth sociology. Media and communication science (in the tradition of cultural studies) deals with current socio-cultural changes accompanied by the processes of globalisation, mediatisation and individualisation and the media appropriation in ethnically heterogenic societies (Hall, 1990; Gillespie, 1995, 2002; Hepp, 2005, 2007; Krotz, 2001). Youth sociology deals with new forms of identity and community building in the context of the appropriation of popular culture and media (Vogelgesang, 1999; Hitzler, 2001). The combination of these two perspectives is useful since media and media communication pervade everyday life, leisure time and interpersonal communication as well as the societal perception of culture, social relationships and identity. Today’s youth is growing up in an environment that is to a high degree shaped by the media. Contemporary youth is the first generation who gets to know culture as a media culture (Vogelgesang, 2002). Young people are playing computer games, watching TV, surfing the internet, generating communities, social relationships and identities in a new cultural sphere. Considering these facts, the PhD project (based on qualitative research) deals with following research questions: How far does popular culture have a potential to mediate transculturally between Latvian and Russian speaking youth in Latvia? Which features demonstrate the group identities developed in the appropriation process of popular culture in youth cultural communities? The research project deals with young people’s articulations of identity not in subcultural youth cultures but more in peer groups and communities with youth cultural characteristics.