Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Cultural Studies

Editor-in-Chief: Miller, Toby

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Romanian Diasporic Facebook Groups as Public Spheres

Teodor Ajder
Published Online: 2018-12-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0065


The pilot Survey discussed in this paper was designed to understand to what extent Romanian Diasporic Facebook groups (RDFGs) build up public spheres, i.e. spaces in which people can form public opinions that can shape political subjectivity (Habermas 178) and to understand the impact of the RDFGs administrators as community organisers. The Survey incorporated questions on the administrators’ features, group structures, levels of activism and explicit interest in public affairs expressed within these groups. Invitations to participate in the Survey were issued via Facebook Messenger exclusively to RDFGs administrators. The participants reported that their groups were mainly top-down informal structures. They stressed the apolitical profiles of the groups they administer although some reported that the critique of homeland politicians constituted significant discussion threads and said that members often organise offline events that could be described as political. Some respondents reported instances of “political revolts” within groups, in which the ordinary members (OMs) initiated critical dialogues on the group’s walls which questioned the positions of the admins. Interestingly, an illusory sense of superiority was revealed in the administrators’ responses as compared to their evaluation of the interests of the OMs, as well as a state of ambivalence in relation to the censorship practices and workload linked to their administrative roles.

Keywords: immigration; diaspora; social networks; censorship; e-democracy


  • Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford University Press, 1998.Google Scholar

  • Ajder, Teodor. Activism civic. Chestionar adresat administratorilor de grupuri Facebook de expați/migranți. [Civic activism. Survey addressed to administrators of Facebook expat / migrant groups.] (In Romanian.) 2018. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1DxAEr9GZnsnaHiu3wGGOf2fkZiSKHXdJzGe62P9GwIs/editGoogle Scholar

  • Andersen, Kim Normann and Rony Medaglia. “The Use of Facebook in National Election Campaigns: Politics as Usual?”Google Scholar

  • Electronic Participation Lecture Notes in Computer Science, edited by Tambouris, Efthimios, Ann Macintosh, and Øystein Sæbø, Springer, 2009, pp. 1-11.Google Scholar

  • Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. University of Minnesota Press, 1996.Google Scholar

  • Ayres, Jeffrey M. ‘‘From the Streets to the Internet: The Cyber-Diffusion of Contention.’’ Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 566, No. 1, Nov. 1999, pp. 132-143.Google Scholar

  • Bernal, Victoria. “Diaspora, Cyberspace and Political Imagination: The Eritrean Diaspora Online.” Global Networks vol. 6, no. 2, 2006, pp. 161-179.Google Scholar

  • Brinkerhoff, Jennifer M. Digital Diasporas: Identity and Transnational Engagement. Cambridge University Press, 2009.Google Scholar

  • Castells, Manuel. The Power of Identity. Blackwell, 1997.Google Scholar

  • Ciobanu, Claudia. “With This Victory Romania’s Protesters Have Truly Proved Their Mettle.” The Guardian. Feb. 5, 2017. theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/05/romania-victory-protesters-corruption-creativity-solidarity.Google Scholar

  • ---. “Migrants Left for a Better Life. Now They Fight for a Better Romania.” The Guardian. August 22, 2018. theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/22/romania-migrant-diaspora-protest-police-crackdown-corruptionGoogle Scholar

  • Climescu, Alexandru. Extremismul de dreapta online în România [Online Right Extremism in Romania]. Friedrich-Ebert- Stiftung, Office Romania, 2013. (In Romanian)Google Scholar

  • Coleman, Stephen. “Blogs and The New Politics of Listening.” Political Quarterly, vol. 76, no. 2, 2005, pp. 273-280.Google Scholar

  • Coleman, Stephen and Jay G. Blumler. The Internet and Democratic Citizenship: Theory, Practice and Policy. Cambridge University Press, 2009.Google Scholar

  • Diamond, Larry. “Liberation Technology.” Journal of Democracy, vol. 21, no. 3, 2010, pp. 69-83.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Diminescu, Dana. “The Connected Migrant: An Epistemological Manifesto.” Social Science Information vol. 47, no. 4, 2008, pp. 565-579.Google Scholar

  • Dolliver, Mark. “Social Networking: A Waste of Time.” AdWeek. 7 October 2010.Google Scholar

  • Eliasoph, Nina. Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy in Everyday Life. Cambridge University Press, 1998.Google Scholar

  • Ellison, Nicole. B., Charles Steinfield, and Cliff Lampe. “The Benefits of Facebook ‘Friends’: Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol. 12, no. 4, 2007, pp. 1143-1168.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Gerber, Alan S., Donald P. Green & Ron Shachar. “Voting May be Habit Forming: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment.” American Journal of Political Science, 47 (3), 2003, pp. 540-550.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Gottschau, Jakob, director. Facebookistan. 2015. Production: Danish Film Institute.Google Scholar

  • Fortunati, Leopoldina, Raul Pertierra, and Jane Vincent, editors. Migration, Diaspora and Information Technology in Global Societies. Routledge, 2012.Google Scholar

  • García-Bedolla, Lisa. Fluid Borders: Latino Power, Identity, and Politics in Los Angeles. University of California Press, 2005.Google Scholar

  • Graham, Mark and Shahram, Khosravi. “Reordering Public and Private in Iranian Cyberspace: Identity, Politics, and Mobilization.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, vol. 9, no. 2, 2002, pp. 219-246.Google Scholar

  • Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. MIT Press, 2001.Google Scholar

  • Hirzalla, Fadi, Liesbet van Zoonen, and Jan de Ridder. “Internet Use and Political Participation: Reflections on the Mobilization/Normalization Controversy.” Information Society, vol. 27, no. 1, 2011, pp. 1-15.Google Scholar

  • Ippolita. In the Facebook Aquarium: The Resistible Rise of Anarcho-Capitalism. Ippolita.net. 2015 networkcultures.org/blog/publication/no-15-in-the-facebook-aquarium-the-resistible-rise-of-anarcho-capitalism-ippolita/.Google Scholar

  • Jeffries, Stuart. A rare interview with Jürgen Habermas. April 30, 2010, Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/eda3bcd8-5327-11df-813e-00144feab49aGoogle Scholar

  • Joyce, Mary, editor. Digital Activism Decoded. The New Mechanics of Change International Debate Education Association. 2010. December 29, 2016: sec.cs.ucl.ac.uk/users/smurdoch/papers/digiact10all.pdfGoogle Scholar

  • Kóczán, Zsóka. “(Why) Are Immigrants Unhappy.” IZA Journal of Migration, vol. 5, no. 3, 2016, pp. 1-25. izajodm.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40176-016-0052-4.Google Scholar

  • Lai, Chung-Hsiung. “Nomadic Desire: The Schizo-Identity in Mona in the Promised Land.” Intergrams,10.2-11.1, 2010, 1-19. benz.nchu.edu.tw/~intergrams/intergrams/102-111/102-111-lai.pdfGoogle Scholar

  • Malkki, Lisa. “Refugees and Exile: From “Refugee Studies” to the National Order of Things.” Annual Review of Anthropology vol. 24, 1995: 495-523.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Marichal, JoseÌ. Facebook Democracy: The Architecture of Disclosure and the Threat to Public Life. Ashgate, 2012.Google Scholar

  • Marlin-Bennett, Renee. “I Hear America Tweeting and Other Themes for a Virtual Polis: Rethinking Democracy in the Global Infotech Age.” Journal of Information Technology and Politics, 8(2), 2011, 129-145.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Neculau, Adrian and Ferréol, Gilles. Minoritari, Marginali, Excluși. [Minorities, Marginals, Excludes] Polirom, 1996.Google Scholar

  • Naughton, John. “Move Fast, Zuckerberg, or Hate Will Kill Facebook.” The Guardian., May 28, 2017. theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/28/hate-speech-facebook-zuckerberg-content-moderators.Google Scholar

  • Oiarzabal, Pedro J. and Alonso Andoni. Diasporas in the New Media Age: Identity, Politics, and Community. University of Nevada Press, 2010.Google Scholar

  • Parham, Angel Adams. “Diaspora, Community and Communication: Internet Use in Transnational Haiti.” Global Networks vol. 4, no. 2, 2004, pp. 199-217.Google Scholar

  • Păun, Carmen. “Romanians Protest Government Plan to Commute Sentences.” Politico, January 22, 2017. politico.eu/article/romanians-protest-government-plan-to-commute-sentences/.Google Scholar

  • Plato, “The Republic.” The Dialogues of Plato, Vol. 3, Online Library of Liberty, oll.libertyfund.org/titles/plato-dialogues-vol-3- republic-timaeus-critias.Google Scholar

  • Rheingold, Howard. The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. Addison-Wesley, 1993, <rheingold.com/vc/book/.Google Scholar

  • Solon, Olivia. “Underpaid and Overburdened: The Life of a Facebook Moderator.” The Guardian, May 25, 2017. theguardian.com/news/2017/may/25/facebook-moderator-underpaid-overburdened-extreme-content.Google Scholar

  • Sunstein, Cass R. #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Princeton University Press, 2017.Google Scholar

  • Tarța, Mihai. “Criptorasismul din rețelele sociale” [Crypto-racism on Social Networks]. Mămăliga de Varșovia, Amară, No. 2, 2016, pp. 150-154. (In Romanian)Google Scholar

  • ---. “Parlamentare mute și votul Diasporei” [Mute Parliamentary Elections and Diaspora’s Vote]. Mămăliga de Varșovia., December 19, 2016. mamaligadevarsovia.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/ parlamentare-mute-si-votul-diasporei/ (In Romanian)Google Scholar

  • ---. “Romania’s February Protests: Austerity Strikes Back,” Mămăliga de Varșovia., May 26, 2017, mamaligadevarsovia.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/romanias-february-protests-austerity-strikes-back.Google Scholar

  • The Guardian. “Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Face Class Action Lawsuit.” April 10, 2018. theguardian.com/news/2018/apr/10/cambridge-analytica-and-facebook-face-class-action-lawsuitGoogle Scholar

  • Trandafoiu, Ruxandra. Diaspora Online: Identity Politics and Romanian Migrants. Berghahn, 2013.Google Scholar

  • Trottier Daniel and Christian Fuchs. Social Media, Politics and the State: Protests, Revolutions, Riots, Crime and Policing in the Age of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Routledge, 2014.Google Scholar

  • Wittig, Michelle Andrisin and Joseph Schmitz. ‘‘Electronic Grassroots Organizing.’’ Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 52, No. 1, March 1996, pp. 53-69.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Received: 2018-04-17

Accepted: 2018-11-29

Published Online: 2018-12-31

Published in Print: 2018-12-01

Citation Information: Open Cultural Studies, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 723–734, ISSN (Online) 2451-3474, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2018-0065.

Export Citation

© by Teodor Ajder, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in