Social media in transition: (How) Does the virtual space facilitate contemporary mobility experiences?
Seraina Claudia Müller
(University of Basel (CH))
Paper short abstract:
Departing from on-going fieldwork among relative affluent Swiss nationals in Northern Europe, this paper seeks to explore the 'new space' social media creates for people with mobility experience.
Paper long abstract:
When moving to a new place, most of the familiar social structures and the various safety-nets fall away. The much-needed networks both for professional and private
purposes, have to be built up again. Thereby social media can play a crucial role. It offers new possibilities for gaining access to local information about the new place(s) of
residence. A new aspect social media platforms offers is the option to stay anonym in the process of gaining valuable knowhow in the country of arrival. Furthermore, as
communication on social media happens usually in written form, the virtual space of social media is accessible for those who have rather low oral language skills as well.
This fact distinguishes the more 'conventional' face-to-face knowledge acquisition of what newly arrived migrants need to gather in order to organize their social and professional life anew.
In the case of my research project, significant changes occurred for those emigrants who left Switzerland 40 - 50 years ago. At that time neither transport nor
communication was sufficiently developed or affordable which made the mobility experience a total different one. For instance, in some cases private landlines were not
available yet at that time. Hence, the experience of and with social media in the context of migration opens up a whole new frame of reference.
The final part of the paper seeks to explore the ability of social media to actually offer a virtual (third) space in times of transition and how that space is shaped.
Creating locality in mobile times: intimacy, friendship and belonging between digital and physical co-presence [ANTHROMOB]