Journal of Intercultural Communication, Issue 22, January, 2010

Aimei Yang

From "Silent Minority" to Collective Protests in Real Life: Tension, Resistance and Online Identity Discourse of Overseas Chinese

Abstract

This study examines how overseas Chinese in the U.S used their online narratives to articulate their individual identities, and to form a shared group identity. What is more, during April 2008, rallies and protests were organized by these online discussion groups. The analysis of participants’ narratives demonstrates the emancipatory potential of the Internet, that is, online discussion helps members of a marginalized group form a united identity to resist existing power, and to facilitate their collective actions in the real world.

The narrative analysis also shows that although individuals are empowered by the online discussions, and are privileged to question any social or political issue, their choices of standing point are shaped by their social positions and cultural background. The constraining factors (socioeconomic position, cultural background, reality tensions, etc.), through online discourse, are gradually transformed into the common ground of overseas Chinese’s online group identity.

Key words: Online discussion, Identity narratives, Overseas Chinese


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