Alternative Voices in Alternative Spaces: Counterhegemonic Discourse in the Blogosphere

This source preferred by Deborah Gabriel

Authors: Gabriel, D.

Start date: 13 November 2013

There is a paucity of research on how people of African descent engage with the medium of blogging. Studies in Africa have found that individuals and groups use the blogosphere as an alternative public space to challenge hegemonic media power (Moyo, 2011) and to promote women’s empowerment (Somolu, 2007). In the US, studies have found political bloggers use blogs to challenge racist discourse and mobilise their communities around political campaigns (Pole, 2005, 2009). Research by Steele (2011) reveals that African American women in the US use the blogosphere to explore race and gender from a Black feminist perspective. However, this is the first study in the UK to explore the use of blogs by African Caribbean people. The findings reveal that motivation is linked to voice, visibility and empowerment and gratification is linked to voice, knowledge sharing, knowledge acquisition and social interaction. Whilst voice, as a motivational factor and gratification for some of the bloggers is linked to an interest in writing and journalism, for others motivation and gratification are driven by a complex set of factors linked to issues of race and representation. These stem from feelings of being voiceless, invisible and marginalised as African Caribbean people in British society. In this regard blogs function as an assertive strategy and medium for self-representation, leading to a sense of empowerment. The findings demonstrate how blogs are used as a discursive medium through which raced and gendered identities are contested, reconfigured and enacted within the blogosphere.

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