Dmitry Timoshkin 1, 2
  • 1 Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, 660041, Krasnoyarsk, Svobodny Ave., 86.
  • 2 Irkutsk State University, Karla Marksa Str., 1, Irkutsk, Russian Federation 664033

Nationalism, Purity, and Danger: “Cross-Border Intimacy” in Russian Digital Media

2023, vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 154–178 [issue contents]
The article explores narratives of the “cross-border intimacy” in Russian-language digital media. The text arrays generated by migrants, representatives of the host community, and professional journalists in digital media are analyzed. We identified and compared the meanings that are given to marriages between migrants and “locals”. Texts were selected from 10 of the most quoted Russian Internet media, city public sites of the largest Russian social network Vkontakte, Internet forums on combinations of the keywords “migrant”, “marriage”, “married”, and “married”, as well as ethno-chronyms, that is, immigrants from the main donor countries to the Russian Federation. Qualitative content analysis has become a research tool. It has been established that migrants and representatives of the host community are equally involved in the production of values of cross-border proximity whose position is broadcast by professional media, especially the Russian bureaucracy. All three groups of the senders of statements on social networks discussing cross-border proximity reproduce the rhetoric of “purity” and “danger” in different forms. This rhetoric is similar to the description of objects that fall out of conventional social categories presented in the works of M. Douglas. In digital media, cross-border intimacy is seen as an existential threat to the integrity of an imaginary community, often metaphorically referred to as a female body. Physical contact with a “stranger”, such as “our” woman with a “stranger” man, is first of all considered as a contagious rite, a result of which the “dirt” peculiar to the “stranger” is transmitted to the imaginary community as a whole. People who broadcast this narrative make claims to the role of “defenders” of an imaginary community from “unconventional” contacts between “their own” and “strangers”. The narrative of “protection from dirt” is used as a way to legitimize their own power by men, bureaucrats, and parents. We found a watershed between the professional and social media. This watershed lies in the fact that the narrative about the need to keep the “purity” of an imaginary community is constantly challenged in social media, unlike professional ones. Love and freedom of individual choice are placed above the inviolability of the boundaries of imaginary communities, thus legitimizing cross-border closeness. The analysis of the material allowed us to put the hypothesis forward that social media contributes to the destruction and delegitimization of the nationalist narrative dominating in professional media. This is primarily used by social groups, in respect of which the power legitimized by the narrative of “purity” is applied; such groups are formed primarily by women, as well as representatives of the “second generation” of migrants.
Citation: Timoshkin D. (2023) Natsionalizm, chistota i opasnost': «crossbourder intimacy» v rossiyskikh tsifrovykh media [Nationalism, Purity, and Danger: “Cross-border Intimacy” in Russian Digital Media]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 22, no 2, pp. 154-178 (in Russian)
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