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Title: Blogging the hyperlocal : the disruption and renegotiation of hegemony in Malta
Author: Grech, Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 2751 4896
Awarding Body: University of Hull
Current Institution: University of Hull
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines how blogging is being deployed to disrupt institutional hegemony in Malta. The island state is an example of a hyperlocal context that includes strong political, ecclesiastical and media institutions, advanced take-up of social technologies and a popular culture adjusting to the promise of modernity represented by EU membership. Popular discourse is dominated by political partisanship and advocacy journalism, with Malta being the only European country that permits political parties to directly own broadcasting stations. The primary evidence in this study is derived from an analysis of online texts during an organic crisis that eventually led to a national referendum to consider the introduction of divorce legislation in Malta. Using netnography supplemented by critical discourse analysis, the research identifies a set of strategies bloggers used to resist, challenge and disrupt the discourse of a hegemonic alliance that included the ruling political party, the Roman Catholic Church and their media. The empirical results indicate that blogging in Malta is contributing to the erosion of the Church’s hegemony. Subjects that were previously marginalised as alternative are increasingly finding an online outlet in blog posts, social media networks and commentary on newspaper portals. Nevertheless, a culture of social surveillance together with the natural barriers of size and the permeability of the social web facilitates the appropriation of blogging by political blocs, who remain vigilant to the opportunity of extending their influence in new media to disrupt horizontal networks of information exchange. Blogging is increasingly operating as a component of a hybrid media ecosystem that thrives on reflexive cycles of entertainment: the independent newspaper media, for long an active partner in the hegemonic set up in Malta, are being transformed and rendered more permeable at the same time as their power and influence are being eroded. The study concludes that a new episteme is more likely to emerge through the symbiosis of hybrid media and reflexive waves of networked individualism than systemic, organised attempts at online political disruption.
Supervisor: Sant, Toni Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Arts ; Digital media