Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Virtual Communities

Russian Diaspora On-Line: A Virtual Community of Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union on the WWW

Nelly Elias (Ben-Gurion University) / Marina Zeltser-Shorer (Tel-Aviv University)



One of the most outstanding results of the recent waves of immigration was the creation of significant immigrant communities from the same country of origin in various western countries. Thanks to technological innovations and geo-political changes, these immigrant communities, spread out over the globe, can now retain on-line ties with their country of origin and with friends and relatives in other countries. These new conditions allow for the creation of transnational immigrant communities, which preserve an affinity for their old homeland and share collective memories, language and culture with their compatriots in the various Diasporas (Ben Rafael, 2001; Vertovec, 2001). Additionally, for these communities, the Internet has become increasingly instrumental in allowing for effective inter-personal communication and providing on-line update of current events occurring in their former homeland (Georgiou, 2002; Hanafi, 2001; Yang, 2003; Zhang and Xiaoming, 1999).

Research literature, therefore, points to the enormous potential the Internet promises in the creation of virtual communities of immigrants, bypassing all national boundaries. In this context, post-Soviet immigration to various western countries provides fertile ground for investigating this phenomenon. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, more that ten million post-Soviet citizens have immigrated to Germany, North America and Israel. After the immigration, these immigrants tend to maintain intensive reciprocal relationships with the FSU, as well as ongoing relations with Russian immigrants in other countries (Remennick, 2002). In addition, we can currently identify a new stage in the development of the transnational community of Russian-speaking immigrants, in which a new cultural space is being formed via the Internet, and which unifies about 2.5 million immigrants around the world.

The proposed research is based on an electronic survey among FSU immigrant who use Russian-language Internet sites in the United States, Germany, and Israel. The questionnaire includes questions regarding the main Internet uses and the scales measuring various aspects of these immigrants' social and cultural identity and their belonging to the immigrant virtual community. In addition, an analysis will be carried out of data pertaining to the periodic rating of main Russian-language Internet sites used by the immigrants from the FSU, including electronic newspapers, publicist sites, entertainment and leisure, hobbies, religion and tradition.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-09-13