(Un)documented immigrant media makers and the search for connection online

Report Author: 
Sarah C. Bishop
Original Date of Publication: 
July, 2017

Social media serves as an important space for some undocumented youth to create and share their own narratives with a general audience through art, photography, film, writing, and other forms of digital media. Online platforms fill a gap for many undocumented youth, who are often excluded from higher education and the academic world. Social media and other online platforms are a space where undocumented youth can counter mainstream anti-immigrant narratives and stereotypes. As such, digital connection can help reduce isolation and can function as a "communal coping" mechanism. However, as this qualitative research study reveals, there are also drawbacks for undocumented youth who share their narratives online. First, digital media can often trend toward idealized "cookie-cutter" immigration narratives, at the expense of overlooking or shutting out different narratives of living without status that don't fit into the mold. Second, social media has helped normalize creating and distributing art for free, without traditional payment structures to provide a financial reward for creative activity. And finally, the sense of privacy that accompanies online activity may enable xenophobic and hateful reactions to the narratives of undocumented youth in ways that would be less socially sanctioned in the offline world. (Immigrant Integration Lab)

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Citation: 

Bishop, S. C. (2017). (Un)documented immigrant media makers and the search for connection online. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 34(5), 415–431. https://doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2017.1351618

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