The main aim of the proposed study is to investigate the lived experience of cultural difference among young Londoners (between 12-18 years) of different cultural backgrounds. Internet applications such as the video sharing platform YouTube, the social-networking site Facebook and micro-blog Twitter are taken as entry points to study the juxtaposition of differences in urban, digital representations. I will theorize and produce new empirical knowledge about how digital practices become loci of intercultural encounters. Taking a comparative approach, I focus on the networked belonging of youths from lower-class (often more multicultural) and upper-class (often more homogeneous) London boroughs on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. As digital practices have become a significant part of their life, it is urgent to achieve greater insights in whether their use of Internet applications corroborates pan-European sentiments of failed multiculturalism and ethnic segregation or whether their experiences rather showcase conviviality, cross-cultural exchange and cultural hybridization. Thus far, the ways in which diverse ethnic/gender/religious identities digitally encounter, negotiate and appropriate one another across online/offline spaces have remained understudied. Innovatively bringing new media, gender and postcolonial studies into dialogue; the layered dynamics and user-generated cultural heterogeneity across Internet applications is scrutinized. The proposed study combines large-scale digital methods to study geographically tagged user-generated content, qualitative in-depth interviews with 90 youths and virtual ethnography with 30 young informants.
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