Saudi Youths' Identity Construction Strategies in Online Communication: An Exploratory Study
Alenezi, MQ and Kebble, PG, Saudi Youths' Identity Construction Strategies in Online Communication: An Exploratory Study, Program, 5th International Search Conference, 18-19 May 2017, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2017) [Conference Extract]
Communication is not the only function of language as language is also used for enacting multiple activities and identities. (Gee, 2014, p.7) Through the use of language, (use of specific dialect, accent, sociolect, vocabulary etc.) people try to show their social, tribal, religious, regional, political, economic etc. identities. The greeting 'Assalamualeikum' [peace be upon you] is used to show religious identity; voice and tone are used to show gender; specific accent/dialect is used to show the geographic origin of a person or regional identity. This identity construction can be consious or unconscious. Also, this identity construction does not happen only in the real world but also in virtual worlds as people always take their identity with them. As the online communication is gaining significance in everyone's life, research on the nature of this communication appears to be also gaining momentum to uncover various nuances underlying this communication. In this respect, this study aimed to explore the strategies used by Saudi Arabian youths to construct and enact their various socio-tribal, regional, religious etc. identities in their online communication to see if these strategies were consious or unconsious. To this end, a social website was created and Saudi youths were invited to participate. Content analysis of the data of more than 300 comments posted by 71 Saudi females and 85 males over two months, revealed that the Saudi youths used their online language unconsiously to construct and enact their various socio-regional identities.