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Micro-populations

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Ico Maly
added 5 research items
The paradigmatic impact of superdiversity not only forces us to go beyond accepted notions regarding the relation between people, identities, language, and space; it also forces to engage with the development of new methodologies. In this paper, we introduce Digital Ethnographic Linguistic Landscape analysis or ELLA 2.0 ) as a new methodology to study social action and space from a post-digital perspective (Cramer, 2014), that is a world where ‘the revolutionary phase of the information age has surely passed’ (Cascone, 2000: 12) and “is constituted by the naturalization of pervasive and connected computing processes and outcomes in everyday life, such that digitality is now inextricable from the way we live while forms, functions and effects are no longer perceptible’ (Albrecht, Fielitz & Thurston, 2019: 11).
'Vlamingen maken na 22 uur geen lawaai meer. Ze spreken Nederlands, zijn punctueel en vinden gezondheid heel belangrijk. De Vlamingen leven niet op straat, ze houden van rust en stilte.' Zo schetste de Vlaamse overheid in zijn legendarische 'starterspakket Inburgering' het beeld van 'de Vlamingen'. Zouden er vandaag nog mensen rondlopen die deze karikatuur ernstig nemen? Vertrekkend vanuit onderzoek naar en in wijken in Brussel, Antwerpen en Gent concluderen Ico Maly, Jan Blommaert en Joachim Ben Yakoub dat zelfs de vlag 'multiculturele maatschappij' tekortschiet om de diversiteit van de hedendaagse samenlevingen te begrijpen. Door toegenomen mobiliteit, globalisering en het internet is de wereld en ieders leven grondig veranderd. Daardoor moeten we onze democratie herdenken, verbeteren en verdiepen. Vergeet multiculti, hier is superdiversiteit. Bij wijze van voorsmaakje van de wereld van morgen.
'Vlamingen maken na 22 uur geen lawaai meer. Ze spreken Nederlands, zijn punctueel en vinden gezondheid heel belangrijk. De Vlamingen leven niet op straat, ze houden van rust en stilte.' Zo schetste de Vlaamse overheid in zijn legendarische 'starterspakket Inburgering' het beeld van 'de Vlamingen'. Zouden er vandaag nog mensen rondlopen die deze karikatuur ernstig nemen? Vertrekkend vanuit onderzoek naar en in wijken in Brussel, Antwerpen en Gent concluderen Ico Maly, Jan Blommaert en Joachim Ben Yakoub dat zelfs de vlag 'multiculturele maatschappij' tekortschiet om de diversiteit van de hedendaagse samenlevingen te begrijpen. Door toegenomen mobiliteit, globalisering en het internet is de wereld en ieders leven grondig veranderd. Daardoor moeten we onze democratie herdenken, verbeteren en verdiepen. Vergeet multiculti, hier is superdiversiteit. Bij wijze van voorsmaakje van de wereld van morgen.
Ico Maly
added a research item
This working book is part of an ongoing dialogue with my colleagues at the University of Tilburg and it focusses explicitly on the connection between people, culture, identity, language and semiotic material in a post-digital context. Or more concretely, it analyses how the symbolic economy of Ghent, Belgium is constructed in the neoliberal and post-digital 21st century. The online, global and mobile dimensions of the contemporary material world pose important methodological and theoretical challenges. The research presented here not only makes an empirical, but also a theoretical and methodological argument. I have the explicit aim to contribute and stimulate further interdisciplinary research on social groups and space in the post-digital constellation that characterizes superdiversity. Throughout this working book, I will address these challenges. I will start by tackling the methodological issues in the next chapter where I will introduce my methodology: Digital Ethnographic Linguistic Landscape Analysis or ELLA 2.0. This methodology puts space, or more precisely the geosemiotic landscape and the symbolic economy of spaces central. Space is analysed as constructed through (digitally mediated) social action in context. In Chapter 2, I will introduce the field. I will understand hipster the hipster as a translocal, layered and polycentric micro-population manifesting itself through a very specific style and identity discourse. And just like the hipster is a translocal phenomenon, we see that the hipster- city is also found all over the world. From this translocal introduction of the field, I will zoom in on the process of hipsterification in Ghent Belgium in the 21st century. In Chapter 3, I go back in time to the beginning of the 21st century and analyse the party scene in Ghent as a process of meaning making in the context of neoliberal capitalism. The identity discourse of the Culture Club as edgy, cosmopolitan and hip, created added value for all kinds of big brands. The hipster is not only a transnational, polycentric cultural phenomenon, or a consumer, but also a producer. The identity discourses and semiotizations of the hipster create added value which not only shape micro-enterprises but also cities and platforms. The imagination of Ghent as a hip city is therefor only partly the effect of the presence of hipsters, it is also the effect of neoliberal urban policies. In Chapter 4, I will show how the hipsterification of the historical centre of Ghent is expanding and how new hip infrastructures contribute to the understanding of Ghent as a hip city. At the same time, I will show how the construction of local hipness and originality cannot be understood in full without looking at the higher scales. Hipster culture is a niched, layered and translocal phenomenon and the cultural products and strategies of hipster entrepreneurs, seen from a global scale fit a genre or a format. In Chapter 5, we move from the centre of the city, to a poor and ‘superdiverse’ neighbourhood in the 19th century belt and show how ELLA 2.0 allows us to describe the changes in the social composition of the neighbourhood and the process of hipsterification. In Chapter 5, we move attention to two other sites in the 19th century belt – The Old Docks and the Watt complex – to show how authenticity discourses and hipster semiotics are used to start up a process of hipsterification. I end with a more general reflection and conclusion on the relation between people, cities and capitalism in post-digital Ghent and on the theoretical and methodological impact of the findings. I will explicitly do this from the ethnographic perspective on social space, social groups and social action I developed throughout the book. Maybe even more than a mere methodological contribution, I hope that this book can help to get the conceptualization of superdiversity ‘out of sociolinguistics’ that Arnaut (et al., 2017: 4) hopes for.
Ico Maly
added a research item
Ethnographic Linguistic Landscape Analysis (ELLA) has over the past few years proven to be a very sensitive tool for detecting changes in superdiverse environments. It has allowed us to distinguish between various types of presence and ownership of different communities within one physical space, and it also added complexity to what more conventional demographic research yields. In this paper, an extension of ELLA is offered, in which we follow online links in the linguistic landscape. Such links (website addresses, Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts etc.) are very frequent features of inscriptions, shop signs and announcements emplaced in public space. Following them takes us far outside the area of emplacement, and raises fundamental questions about (a) the nature of the 'local' and the 'urban' and (b) the actors involved in social processes in the area of emplacement. Data for this paper are drawn from recent fieldwork in inner-city Antwerp (Belgium). The backdrop for this new dimension of ELLA is our growing awareness that superdiversity analysis requires attention to the online-offline nexus defining much of contemporary social life.
Ico Maly
added 3 research items
'Vlamingen maken na 22 uur geen lawaai meer. Ze spreken Nederlands, zijn punctueel en vinden gezondheid heel belangrijk. De Vlamingen leven niet op straat, ze houden van rust en stilte.' Zo schetste de Vlaamse overheid in zijn legendarische 'starterspakket Inburgering' het beeld van 'de Vlamingen'. Zouden er vandaag nog mensen rondlopen die deze karikatuur ernstig nemen? Vertrekkend vanuit onderzoek naar en in wijken in Brussel, Antwerpen en Gent concluderen Ico Maly, Jan Blommaert en Joachim Ben Yakoub dat zelfs de vlag 'multiculturele maatschappij' tekortschiet om de diversiteit van de hedendaagse samenlevingen te begrijpen. Door toegenomen mobiliteit, globalisering en het internet is de wereld en ieders leven grondig veranderd. Daardoor moeten we onze democratie herdenken, verbeteren en verdiepen. Vergeet multiculti, hier is superdiversiteit. Bij wijze van voorsmaakje van de wereld van morgen.
Ico Maly
added a research item
Through a critical review of existing literature on hipsters, and an analysis of online data, this article provides a description of 'hipster culture'. To this end, we examine the reoccurring markers of hipster identity and, crucially, the accompanying identity discourses on hipsters. As a result, a picture of hipster culture emerges as a translocal and layered phenomenon with contextually specific claims to authenticity, and certain material infrastructures and effects emerge with the culture. Finally, we will propose the concept of 'micro-population' as a tool for making sense not only of hipsters, but identity in general in times of superdiversity.