Political participation in the context of contemporary media: the case of refugees in Lithuania
This study aims to explore how new communication technologies are transforming the nature of political participation and how social media platforms can create discourses of solidarity with migrants or confrontation with them. The objectives of the study are: to analyse the concept of political participation in the context of migration; to describe the role of new communication technologies in the decision-making process of the host society; and to show the role of social media in increasing refugee integration of migrants and solidarity with them. In order to explore the role of new communication technologies in the context of refugee integration, interviews are conducted with refugees living in Lithuania, whose unique experiences are analysed in the context of not only the role of new communication tools, but also political participation (e.g. citizenship, voting in the elections, meetings with local government representatives, etc.) in their host country.
It should be mentioned, that new communication technologies enable migrants to participate in the communities they have left behind and to create new virtual communities that function as a mobilising instrument for migrants. The analysis of the dynamics between migrant integration and new communication technologies shows that digital technologies facilitate the integration of migrants in social, political, economic and cultural spheres. New technologies can help migrants to find information on rights, citizenship, local migrant support services, and overcome feelings of isolation by providing migrants with information. The results of the interview show that new technologies are very important for refugees, as they help to build networks of family and friends, support communities and create a sense of belonging in the host society. However, negative representations of refugees in social media also contribute to the difficulties refugees face during their integration.
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