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Communicative spaces of their own: migrant girls performing selves using instant messaging software

Leurs, Koen and Ponzanesi, Sandra (2011) Communicative spaces of their own: migrant girls performing selves using instant messaging software. Feminist Review, 99 (1). pp. 55-78. ISSN 0141-7789

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Identification Number: 10.1057/fr.2011.39


In this article, we argue how instant messaging (IM) is actively made into a communicative space of their own among migrant girls. Triangulating data gathered through large-scale surveys, interviews and textual analysis of IM transcripts, we focus on Moroccan-Dutch girls who use instant messaging as a space where they can negotiate several issues at the crossroads of national, ethnic, racial, age and linguistic specificities. We take an intersectional perspective to disentangle how they perform differential selves using IM both as an ‘onstage’ activity through which they express their communal, public and global youth cultural belongings and as a ‘backstage’ activity through which they articulate their individual, private and intimate identity expression. Instant messaging appears to be a space where they can strategically (re-)position themselves. The relationship between the online world of IM and the off-line world is shown to be intricate and complex; at certain points, both worlds overlap and at others they diverge. Despite all existing constraints that are both related to gender restrictions, often disenfranchised family backgrounds, religious dictums, and surveillance by parents, siblings and peers, which affect Moroccan-Dutch girls in specific ways, IM is also understood as a unique space for exerting their agency in autonomous, playful and intimate ways.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2013 09:01
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 04:31

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