New media, identity, and Arab youth in Britain

  • Khalil Al Agha

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The role of the new media in young people’s lives has led to a debate about the potential of the internet as a means of influencing identity formation and youth participation. A growing body of academic research has shown an interest in understanding this influence. This thesis sets out to study political participation as a form of online engagement through the use of the various new media platforms and how it may affect the process of identity development of Arab youth in Britain. Prior to the recent political developments in the Middle East and the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, British Arab youth were suffering identity uncertainty and had expressed little interest in political participation. During the early stages of the Arab Spring, British Arab youth became involved, in one way or another, in political activities, mainly online. This research combines quantitative and qualitative methodologies in order to achieve accurate results. The targeted group for this study is those between 18 and 25 years old, who were born in Britain or have been living continuously in Britain for at least 10 years. Data collected includes a total of 178 questionnaire samples, and forty individual semi-structured interviews. The core argument of this study is that British Arab youth are willing to participate in politics as long as it is meaningful to them and to the people of their countries of origin. This engagement helps them to balance their cultural identity (Arab) with the host culture (British). That may not contradict with the fact that British Arab youth describe Britain as ‘home’ with confidence. In fact, the balance between Arab and British cultures serves as a stabiliser in the process of identity formation and reformation. The thesis also explores how this active political engagement is reflected, in general, on their own identity construction and development. The evidences of this study suggest that, while online media has a role in providing British Arab youth with accessible and effective online tools, the mechanism of participating and debating all issues without reservation, may contradict the cultural heritage of stepping back from political participation. Therefore, this research affirms the importance of online media tools for British Arab youth reaching new horizons. Participating in political activities is one form of negotiating identity formation or reformation, that in one way or another can contribute to a more effective role of the British Arab community in the public, political and cultural spheres of multicultural Britain.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    SupervisorJanet Wilson (Supervisor), Nourredine Miladi (Supervisor) & Andrew Pilkington (Supervisor)

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