Negotiating Group Identities Along Ethnicity and Religion

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Involved researchers: Leen d’Haenens, Joyce Koeman & Baldwin Van Gorp

The OT-project Negotiating Group Identities Along Ethnicity and Religion. Case: On- and Offline Networks in The Low Countries and The UK is supervised by professor Leen d’Haenens and co-supervised by professors Joyce Koeman, Baldwin Van Gorp and Keith Roe (School for Mass Communication Research).

This research aims to increase our understanding of how Muslim ethnic-cultural minorities share knowledge, values and goals, and position themselves with regard to public policy. This research simultaneously examines media coverage, online media use, involvement of Muslim ethnic-cultural minority groups in on- and offline social networks, and the overall network patterns. The analysis of these phenomena is situated in the Low Countries (Flanders and the Netherlands) and the UK. The British-Dutch comparison offers two different normative frameworks: assimilationism (NL) and communitarianism (UK). The Flemish public policy discourse is situated somewhere in between, sometimes taking an assimilationist approach and other times supporting ethnic diversity. The research aims at the following: 1) Through cross-national comparisons, the identification of shifts in public policy discourses on integration and immigration in the countries under study over the last decade, and the delineation of crisis moments vs. routine reporting; 2) Through comparisons between the mainstream media agenda and minorities’ voices online, the identification of the most salient actors and issues, the degree of convergence or divergence between them, and the diversity within both spheres in the two contexts; 3) Through social network analysis and interviews with selected members of ethnic discussion forums, the unraveling of the structure of online connections among ethnic and cultural minorities and between majority and minority groups.

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