Communities of/for Interest: Revisiting the Role of Migrants’ Online Groups

Taulant Guma, Stephen Drinkwater, Rhys Dafydd Jones

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Abstract

This article offers a critical examination of the role played by migrants’ online communities. With much of scholarly analysis focusing on the new ways in which online groups enable migrants to connect, interact or socialise together in digital space, little attention has been paid to how these groups are actually formed, by whom and with what motivations. Drawing on qualitative interviews with moderators of online groups created by EU migrants living in Wales, UK, our findings reveal the diverse and sometimes ambivalent roles played by these groups, acting not only as networks of support for migrants (‘communities of interest’) but also driven by commercial motives. To capture the impact of this commercialisation and the complexity in the field, we introduce the notion of ‘communities for interest’. The article thus offers new empirical and conceptual contributions that advance our understanding of migrants’ online communities beyond the much-discussed online/offline and virtual/real dichotomies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-532
Number of pages17
JournalSociology
Volume57
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • communities for interest
  • communities of interest
  • migration
  • network society
  • online communities
  • social media

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  • WISERD Civil Society: Interpol (led by project 11438)

    Jones, I. R., Murphy, P. D., O'Hanlon, F., Royles, E., Anderson, J., Blackaby, D., Bryson, A., Chaney, P., Cole, A. M., Davies, R., Davis, H., Drinkwater, S., Feilzer, M., Green, A., Heley, J., Higgs, G., Hyde, M., Johns, N., Jones, R., Jones, R. D., Jones, M., Jones, M., Langford, M., Mann, R., McVie, S., Milbourne, P., Moles, K., Orford, S., Paterson, L., Power, S. A., Ress, G., Roberts, G., Robinson, C., Taylor, C. M., Thompson, A., Wincott, D., Woods, M., Jones, L., Stafford , I. & Staneva, A.

    Economic and Social Research Council

    01 Oct 201430 Sept 2019

    Project: Externally funded research

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