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Learning About Oneself: An Essential Process to Confront Social Media Propaganda Against the Resettlement of Syrian Refugees


Learning About Oneself: An Essential Process to Confront Social Media Propaganda Against the Resettlement of Syrian Refugees

Naffi, Nadia (2017) Learning About Oneself: An Essential Process to Confront Social Media Propaganda Against the Resettlement of Syrian Refugees. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Research Problem:
Public reaction to the 2015-2016 resettlement of Syrian refugees to Canada ranged from strong support to active resentment. This study explored some of those reactions: those of host society youth. It examined the process of this youth learning about themselves in the context of the social media propaganda about the resettlement of Syrian refugees, and investigated how the public opinion about the refugee resettlement affected their perception of their roles in the integration and inclusion of these newcomers.
Research questions:
1.How do youth construe online interactions about the Syrian refugee crisis?
2.How do youth construe their role in the integration and the inclusion of refugees in a context where the image of refugees is deeply influenced by social media?
3.What knowledge and skills do youth develop when they engage in analyzing their thoughts and behaviours in regards to sensitive and controversial issues such as the refugee crisis and resettlement?
4.How could this knowledge and these skills facilitate their engagement in civic online reasoning and participatory politics?
The researcher conducted more than 160 hours of qualitative in-depth interviews with 42 host society youth between 18 and 24 years old from North America, Europe and the Middle East. For the purpose of this thesis, only data collected from the Canadian participants was analyzed and shared. The participants were recruited through a snowball sampling. They were active on social media, supportive of the Syrian refugee resettlement in Canada, but deliberately acting as passive bystanders whenever they encountered online posts and interactions about the Syrian refugee crisis. Adapting four techniques from George Kelly’s Personal Construct Psychology (Kelly’s self-characterization technique, Procter’s Perceiver Element Grid, Kelly’s Repertory Grid Test and Hinkle’s laddering technique), data collection included three to four interviews with each participant. The interviews provided the participants with opportunities to delve into their own construct systems and to reflect on the genesis of their constructs.
Results and Conclusions:
By reflecting on their own behaviours online, participants realized that they could control how social media influenced them, and shape the online image of the Syrian refugees in host countries. While their empathy towards refugees increased, participants identified factors that could lead to Islamophobia, racism and fear, and developed strategies to counterbalance them online. The process of learning about themselves was key to transform the participants from passive bystanders into active agents of change, ready to confront digital propaganda.
Civic educators, social workers, curriculum developers, policy makers and parents concerned with the takeover of social media by hate speech proponents can apply these findings and help youth withstand manipulation and fight racism, hate speech, radicalization, and cyberbullying through the Get Ready to Act Against Social Media Propaganda model generated by this study. The model includes five iterative stages: Question, analyze, design, prepare and evaluate.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Naffi, Nadia
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Educational Technology
Date:November 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Davidson, Ann-Louise
Keywords:social media; Facebook; Twitter; youth; refugees; social inclusion; social integration; resettlement; hate speech; propaganda; cyberbullying; qualitative research; Syrian refugee crisis; radicalization; far-right; Canada; Personal Construct Psychology; construct system; terror attacks; Trump; bystander; agents of change; host society; welcoming society
ID Code:983399
Deposited By: NADIA NAFFI
Deposited On:05 Jun 2018 14:50
Last Modified:05 Jun 2018 14:50
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