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Title: Virtual whiteness : an exploration of on-line newsgroups
Author: Campbell, A. I.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2003
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This research inquiry centres on the interactive properties of the Internet, which enables users drawn together by a particular subject matter, to form through text-based conversations, virtual communities. The thesis concerns itself with two Internet communities, one forged on British identity, the other on skinhead identity. This ethnography is set in the context of discourse of identity; in particular national, ethnic and racial, which have come to be established as natural and legitimate sources for self-identification. In contemporary Britain cultural and institutional discourses commonly equate a British national identity with one that is perceived as being legitimately ethnically or racially ‘white’. The globalising medium of the Internet challenges this notion, de-stabilising the white/British equivalence, yet it can also be used as a means for the re-production of such claims. Through a ‘virtual ethnography’ of a British and a skinhead Internet community, the thesis explores how the participants in each group negotiate their British or Skinhead identity in relation to ethnicity. I focus on the everyday processes of identity formation in order to render visible the discursive modalities that are needed to sustain a British or skinhead identity. The approach reveals some of the exclusionary processes in operation as many of the participants secure their British or skinhead identity through explicit and implicit discourses of ‘whiteness’. My analysis also reveals the ways in which other participants in the groups contest the relationship between, respectively, British and skinhead identities and whiteness. The thesis examines the effectiveness of existing techniques used to challenge racist identifications, by focusing on the participants who contest them. This exposes multiple, fractured, positions in relation to British and skinhead identity and points to alternative ways in which the Internet might be used to promote an anti-racist effect in the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available