DEVOTION AND FRIENDSHIP THROUGH FACEBOOK: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC APPROACH TO LANGUAGE, COMMUNITY, AND IDENTITY PERFORMANCES OF YOUNG TURKISH-AMERICAN WOMEN
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation explores the incorporation of Facebook into everyday live activities and practices of a group of young Turkish-American women affiliated with a faith-based movement, known as the Hizmet (volunteer's service) movement. In particular, I examine the emergent communicative practices and performances of these young women and how they create a sense of identity and community and mediate these via this online medium in their diverse geographical localities. I start my analysis by investigating several instances of discourse and within these I focus on metacommunicative, metapragmatic, and metadiscursive acts in aiming to understand their semiotic performances on and off Facebook. I found that these young Turkish-American women, after being dispersed to different geographical localities, began to see Facebook as a vital means to maintain their group ties. Furthermore, their use of Facebook from 2008 to 2011 became more and more for Hizmet purposes. Stepping into the ideological realm, I understand that the notion of "friendship" is highly influenced by a semiotic ideology of tefani (gloss). That is, true/religious brotherhood is one of the important principles of gaining ikhlas (sincerity) and hence a way to establish good relations with God, and these young women see Facebook as a means to further their relationship with their sisters and thus establish a good relationship with God. I observed that they rely heavily on their unique ways of speaking to mark their in-groupness. I argue that, in the absence of several resources exploited by mainstream youths in the US, these young women employ and exploit their ingroup language features as a means to construct their "coolness" and "otherness". In addition, through playing with several languages and language varieties and playing with several generated intertexts, these young women make their interactions somewhat invisible to outsiders through drawing from their shared stock of knowledge and communicative repertoires developed in prior in. Influenced by several competing ideologies, these young women negotiated the use and incorporation of Facebook into their everyday life and especially its pros and cons in terms of their religiosity. Through differentiating their Facebook use from its popular uses, they transform it to a Vefabook (Loyaltybook) and hence employ it as a medium of/for vefa (loyalty) through which they practice uhuvvet (religious brotherhood) and tefani. Their unique ways of speaking and circulation of stretches of discourse contribute to transforming Facebook into a vefa space where they mainly interact with their sisters in their group.
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