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Superdiversity on the Internet: A case from China

Varis, Piia and Wang, Xuan 2016. Superdiversity on the Internet: A case from China. In: Arnaut, Karel, Blommaert, Jan, Rampton, Ben and Spotti, Massimiliano eds. Language and Superdiversity, Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 218-236.

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The Internet can be seen as a major mechanism in globalisation processes and in the creation of superdiversity (Vertovec 2006, 2010). The World Wide Web opens up entirely new channels of communication, generating new linguistic and cultural forms, new ways of forming and maintaining contacts, networks and groups, and new opportunities for identity-making (e.g. Sundén 2003; Baron 2008; boyd1 2009). Technology has made it increasingly easy to transgress one’s immediate lifeworld, extend it to and beyond the screen, and engage in local as well as translocal activities through previously unavailable means. All of this cannot be ignored in explaining the world today, and discussions on superdiversity should take into account the significance of the Internet in complexifying the nature of human communication and engagement with others, of transnational movements and migration, and of social and cultural life in general. However, we should also be wary of too much optimism in this respect. The so-called ‘Internet revolution’ witnessed in the past three decades or so entices many with the promise of a superdiverse space par excellence – a space of seemingly endless possibilities for self-expression, individual life projects, and community formation. Prevailing Internet ideologies often present us with an image of an online world saturated with opportunities and aspirations where one is able to indulge in infinite creativity in imagining and constructing both self and other.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781138844575
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2020 10:22

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