Mediating the challenges of a new way of life through blogging. An analysis of the blogs of six new migrants to Australia

Year: 2012

Author: Peter, Maria Gabriella, Morgan, Liam

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:

This paper is based on two years of research into newly arrived communities and their uses of ICT. Understanding and supporting home languages is one of the most important issues in any multilingual societies like Australia where almost one in four people live in homes where a language other than English is spoken. Web 2.0 technologies have presented new opportunities for developing diverse online environments and enhancing interactivity, participation and feedback between diverse groups of authors and readers. In particular, blogs and social networking sites have provided new opportunities and incentives for personal writing. For new migrants to Australia, blogs represent a virtual space where they can share knowledge in their home language, form communities and construct identities in response to the challenges of an environment vastly different to their original homeland. As the use of blogs among these new migrants increases, it is important to gain a deeper understanding of the potential they offer for the maintenance of home languages and culture, the mediation of new experiences and the construction of new identities. The aim of this research is to highlight a framework for analyzing blogs that takes account of the multimodal nature of blogs as well as the characteristics that make blogs 'spaces' where choices about content contruct aspects of 'multiple selves' (Döring, 2002). This paper will present a multi-modal analysis of six blogs of new migrants to Australia. It will examine the choices made by the writers in relation to text and image and the role played by tese blogs as sites for language maintenance as well as the construction of identities. The features of ethnographic case study methodology, such as real-life settings, in-depth investigation and multiple sources of evidence (qustionnaire, interviews, blogs) have been used to study the use of web 2.0 technologies, especially blogs, by recently arrived families. To capture the complexity of the multimodal aspects of blogs, social semiotic multimodal analysis has been applied in order to gain a greater insight into the role and functions that blogs have within the newly arrived communities in Australia. The results highlight the interactive potential of blogs as well as their value as virtual spaces where tensions around reconciling the forces of family and tradition with the desire to 'fit in' to a new way of life are played out.

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