C-constructing creative and intercultural citizenship in social media: The case of citizen activism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Social media plays a dynamic role in promoting creative activism and ‘creative citizenship’, stimulating political consciousness, constructing political discourse, mobilizing demonstrations, and producing the crisis in Syria. Hargreaves (2016, p.6) defines creative citizenship as “the application of creativity to a civic purpose or civic effect” with “considerable civic value”. This research perceives creative citizenship as the creative co-construction of symbolic resources (Kramsch, 2021) for transcultural, civic and affective purposes. Before the start of the Syria uprising in 2011, semiotic and symbolic systems, including languages, bodies, materials, images, symbols, metaphors, and even dreams, were used in the production of political power, official government discourse (Wedeen, 1998) and obedient citizenship. The uprising and the affordances of technology offered Syrians an opportunity to produce dissent and a new political discourse through the assemblages of ‘creative culture’ and narrative that does not require them to ‘dissimulate.’ For the first time in decades, Syrian citizen activists were able
to produce politics that does not depend on “falsified trapping of loyalty” (Wedeen, 1998). This ethnography explores how creative citizens in a small town co-construct creative and intercultural citizenship through the production of a creative genre of banners, photographs, texts, and videos and disseminating these through social media platforms - mainly Facebook and Twitter. As shown in critical discourse analysis, ‘creative citizenship’ is co-constructed and negotiated through assemblages of discursive constructions, including subjectivity, stance-taking, intertextuality, and knowledge (Biber and Finegan, 1989; Du Bois, 2007) . The findings reveal how creative activism offline and in social media supports the con-construction of intercultural and global citizenship and translocal identification. The research demonstrates the affordances of social media for creative citizens’ communication with local and transcultural networks.
Du Bois, J. W. (2007). The stance triangle. In R. Englebretson (ed.) Stance taking in discourse: Subjectivity, evaluation, interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 139-182.
Du Bois, J. W. and Karkkainen, E. (2012). Taking a stance on emotion: Affect, sequence, and intersubjectivity in dialogic interaction. Text & Talk 32(4):433-451.
Hargreaves, I. (2016). Are you a creative citizen? In Ian Hargreaves and John Hartley, The Creative Citizen Unbound: How social media and DIY culture contribute to democracy, communities and the creative economy. Bristol: Bristol Univesity Press.
Kramsch, C. (2021). Language as Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wedeen, L. (1998). Acting "As If": Symbolic Politics and Social Control in Syria. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 1998, Vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 503-523. Cambridge University Press
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 2023 BAAL SIG Language and New Media Research Seminar
Subtitle of host publicationNew Dialogues and Frontiers
Publication statusUnpublished - 29 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • citizenship
  • activism
  • Intercultural communication
  • social media discourse
  • transcultural
  • creativity
  • symbolic systems
  • language


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