Indian diaspora's use of social networking sites for identity construction and community building: the case of Indians in London (IIL) Community on Orkut

Surabhi Goswami

Studenteropgave: Speciale


In the last five years, social networking sites (SNS) have emerged as popular online platforms for people to make “Friends” online, that enable people to not only map one’s offline connections online but also engage in creating connections with new people based on similarity of interest. Simultaneously, globalization has led to increasing migration that has resulted in the creation of the diaspora, who find themselves away from the familiar spaces and people of their homeland and are encouraged to look for new ways to create communities. In this context, while use of traditional media such as television, radio and home videos, and contemporary mediums of ethnic websites and online newspapers have hitherto enabled diasporic members to keep in touch with their homeland and form connections with other dispersed co-ethnic members, the presence of SNS seem to offer a new platform for the diaspora to engage in diasporic identity and community construction. The presence of numerous Indian diasporic groups on social media platforms like Orkut and Facebook indicate their growing popularity with the diaspora. In order to explore the significance of such online communities for diasporic individuals and examine their online practices, this thesis conducts a virtual ethnography of the Indians in London (IIL) community on Orkut. Using qualitative methods of interviews and participant observations, and by analyzing one archived forum thread, the thesis examines if these online congregations of diasporic Indians can indeed be correctly understood as “communities” and if SNS emerge as an “alternative” platform for the diaspora to make connections with other diasporic members who share similar circumstances and aspirations. By opting to see through the participants’ eyes, this thesis offers an insight into IIL members’ beliefs about the community and their everyday practices on the forum through which they are able to “imagine” it as a community. The thesis concludes with the argument that although IIL community witnesses high dependence on it by its members, for seeking information and companionship, and for reiterating their national identity, there is a limited sense of commitment to the community by its members that eventually questions its ability to emerge as a substitute for an offline community.

UddannelserKommunikation, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato19 feb. 2010
VejledereFrancesco Lapenta


  • identity
  • Social networking sites
  • community
  • Indian diaspora