added a research item
This article addresses transnational media use of Baltic Russian-speaking audiences that is often problematized in the public discourse as an inhibiting factor of their local integration and a threat to the national security of Estonian and Latvian societies. The authors operationalize a theoretical model of synergistic and antagonistic relationship between transnationalism and local integration drawing on the media use of Baltic Russian speakers. The findings suggest that the synergy between transnationalism and local integration is protected against discursive suppression via mundane balan- cing acts. Furthermore, the securitization of transnational media practices of the Russian-speaking population may not always lead to the rise of diasporic identities as reported in earlier studies.
Inspired by Couldry's conceptualisation of media-related practices, the authors investigate the ways Baltic Russian-speakers manage their digital information-seeking (sources of news) practices and interaction (communication partners). Amidst the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the ensuing tensions between Russia and the West, we consider how these digital practices lead to ideological heterogeneity or homogeneity. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has put the transnational affiliations and practices of Baltic Russophones under pressure. This paper therefore asks how the polarised political environment and securitisation of the cross-border media practices of Baltic Russian-speakers by the national political elite has shaped how individuals respond by keeping channels open or screening content out. Based on a mixed-method study of the digital practices of Russian-speakers living in Estonia and Latvia, the authors argue that practices supporting digital homophily and digital heterophily are not mutually exclusive but appear in specific configurations. The avoidance of counter-oppositional views (screening out) is not absolute but rather mixed with practices that open channels from time to time.
This article contributes to the scholarly discussions about the self-responsibilization, defined as a configuration of understandings and action strategies oriented to compensate the (perceived) dysfunctionality of the media system, of audience members in East European societies. The authors argue that audience members’ sceptical and self-reliant stance towards political news, which were planted in Soviet times, continue today in the context of mediated geopolitical conflicts. Based on a mixed methods study of Baltic Russian-speaking audiences’ behaviour in the context of the Russia–Ukraine conflict, the authors explore audience members’ media repertoires aimed to “fish out” reliable information from the political news by searching for unspoken clues or identifying ideologically biased messages. The authors introduce six political news repertoires based on the varied degrees of plurality of information channels and conditional trust. Then, they characterize audience groups exercising these repertoires and explain how audience members rationalize the chosen repertoires as a part of their agency in the context of geopolitical turbulence. They suggest that media audiences’ self-responsibilization is a worthwhile object for further study and call for a shift in East European media research away from a structuralist approach and towards an agency-centred one.
This paper asks what happens to the civic identity of people who have hybrid, transnational identities during times of geo-political tensions when the interests of individuals' historical/symbolic homeland clash with those of individuals' country of current residence. We focus our inquiry on the digital spaces where much of identity work and exercise of citizenship takes place today. Inspired by the concepts of “digital acts of citizenship” (Isin & Ruppert, 2015) and “affective publics” (Papacharissi, 2015), we report the results of a case study that explores the performative, playful forms of digital citizenship enacted by members of the Russian-speaking audiences in the ex-Soviet, Baltic countries of Estonia and Latvia. Against the backdrop of the on-going crisis in Ukraine, members of this group tend to use these forms of digital citizenship to resist the emotionally charged pre-election discourse of essentialization and securitization, and to de-politicize complex, painful issues of geo-politics and nation-building. The strategies utilized by them reveal that transnational audiences actively employ digital devices in order to maintain their hybrid identity, and civic autonomy and dignity and to “make peace” during times of geo-political conflict.
Drawing on the concept of memory citizenship, this study examines the discursive enactment of citizenship evoked by social contention around memories of the Soviet past among the Russian-speaking minority in Estonia. It scrutinizes the rhetorical strategies and argumentative practices applied by Estonian Russian-speakers in social media discourse to defy the perceived politicization of Soviet childhood and the claim for recognition and inclusion both as mnemonic actors and political subjects. The paper demonstrates the potential of digital and performative modes of citizenship for minority publics to exercise their civic agency beyond conventional realms and forms of political participation.
This article offers a theoretically explained model for analysing the strategies of vernacular sense-making used by transnational audiences in times of political disagreement. The analysis proceeds from the findings of earlier studies that reveal that audience members interpret news in a geopolitically indoctrinated manner despite their exposure to alternative information from geopolitically opposing sources and their general critical stance towards the objectivity of the media in political conflicts. The authors of this qualitative study among Latvian and Estonian Russian-speaking audiences explain how geopolitical convictions are (re)established through interpretations of news reports about politically conflicting events involving Russia vs. Western states. The results reveal that despite of the widespread scepticism and mistrust towards media organizations, the members of audiences strive for independence in their sense-making. In general, there are no signs of a degradation of deliberation as an ideal among the audiences. Nevertheless, the use of moral-cultural heuristics and the search for ‘authentic’ information from personal networks contributes to the enduring hegemony of Russian geopolitical narratives.
In this essay, we examine the connections between media use and trust strategies, and the identity development of the Russian-speaking populations in Estonia and Latvia in the context of the political crisis in Ukraine. We argue against the levelling, uniform view of Russian-speaking audiences as being completely under the influence of Russian media and thereby politically identifying themselves with the Kremlin. We present a typology of Russian-speaking audiences, explain how they construct their identities as audience members within these types in times of political crisis, and discuss how this self-identification as audience members shapes the development of broader civic and ethnic identities among the Estonian and Latvian Russian-speaking populations.