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The Latinas' internet: meanings and practices in the everyday lives of disadvantaged migrant women in London

Pavez-Andonaegui, Maria (2014) The Latinas' internet: meanings and practices in the everyday lives of disadvantaged migrant women in London. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is an invitation to investigate social issues in times when technologies are a social construction that is very much taken for granted. Who is in front of the screen and what it means to individuals can be easily overlooked, particularly when the subject is migrant women, part of a minority. When people shape and appropriate a technology the relationship is not unidirectional; their interpretations and practices also forge their transnational experiences as there are no standardised migrant experiences, nor standardised uses of technology. Hence it is crucial to problematise the users and to deconstruct the social and cultural context of their appropriations. Therefore by challenging domestication theory and applying it to users who are part of a transnational arena, with this thesis I investigate which concepts and rationale of this approach are useful for deconstructing the role of technologies in the lives of migrant women. The questions that guide this thesis are how the internet gains a place and a meaning by being appropriated in a transnational home, and how this influences women’s daily experiences. The theoretical contribution is firstly to bring together notions of internet appropriation in everyday life with those of the transnational literature and migration, and furthermore to contribute by tackling aspects of digital inclusion and how disadvantaged populations appropriate technologies from a cultural standpoint, highlighting the relevance of their condition as migrants with transnational links. Therefore I provide an ethnographic account of migrant Latinas in vulnerable conditions in London, and their internet experiences, by following a qualitative methodology that incorporates in-depth interviews with thirty-seven women and participant observation in two community centres as well as five participants’ households. The main conclusion is that although their levels of digital engagement and degrees of technological expertise were dissimilar, the internet was present in all their discourses and had an important role in their migrant situation, either by enabling them to continue their consumption practices and communications, and/or by empowering them to be part of this technological stream for the first time. Notwithstanding that there is not just one aspect which is responsible for how they construct their internet, their migration status and vulnerabilities enriched the approach by contributing to depicting their everyday, social and cultural context. Therefore the properties these women perceived were strongly connected with their current needs and interests as immigrants in a marginalisation stream. From a theoretical standpoint the main gap in understanding migrants’ domestication of technologies was the scant attention paid to both their cultural appropriation and the nuances of their hybrid context, as well as to spaces of belonging and digital location going beyond geographical limits. This was pivotal in the creation of cultural meanings, and of the context within which the technologies were (re)appropriated.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Maria Pavez-Andonaegui
Library of Congress subject classification: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Helsper, Ellen

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