I just realized that I haven’t mentioned this before, so let me tell you all now that I’ve finished my research and data collection. I’ve looked at the blogs, I’ve interviewed people, I’ve sat around and done analysis. All that’s left is the writing. So that’s what I’ll be doing from now on. Anyway, this is the abstract that I have so far for the thesis I’m working on:
My research focuses on Filipino bloggers and their expression of Filipino identity on blogs. Following from the data I gathered from bloggers both in the Philippines and overseas in a content analysis of Filipino-written blogs and from several interviews, my thesis begins from Stuart Hall’s conceptualization of identity as contingent and arising from difference. I explore the complexities behind the expression of Filipino identity on blogs and the numerous factors that such expression is contingent upon. I answer three basic questions in my exploration of this contingent identity: Why is Filipino identity expressed on blogs? How is it expressed? And why is there no single Filipino blogging community?
It’s clumsy here and there, but bear in mind it’s a work in progress. It gets the job done, which is telling the reader what the whole thing is about. I’ve also got an outline and some notes specifying what goes where, plus two notebooks full of analytical scribblings I’ll have to pore over, not to mention the notes I’ve taken on the books and articles I’ve read.
So what does the data I’ve gathered tell me about Filpino bloggers? I can only offer tidbits, of course, since there’s so much information to convey. Anyway, I’ve noticed that there seems to be five major categories of Filipino bloggers: Cosmopolitans, the Philippine Elite, Im/migrants, Second Generation Diasporic Filipinos, and Younger Filipinos in the Philippines. These are not absolute categories; there is overlap, and besides which, this is not the ultimate typology of Filipino bloggers which can be constructed.
Cosmopolitans are those Filipino bloggers originally from the Philippines who readily discuss such things as trips to Hong Kong and favourite restaurants in New York. They don’t speak of these experiences as extraordinary, but instead discuss them as normal and common. They live all over the world, though quite a few live in the Philippines. They tend to be neutral towards Philippine politics, at least judging by the fact that they rarely discuss such matters.
The Philippine Elite are Filipino bloggers based in the Philippines who – from the way they present themselves on their blogs – are clearly part of the ruling class. I don’t mean that they’re necessarily amazingly wealthy, but they definitely have power in the Philippines. They can be doctors, lawyers, journalists, and so on. They often discuss Philippine politics and they frequently display their nationalism in some way on their blogs. Cosmopolitans and the Philippine Elite are quite clearly connected to each other, and there is much overlap between the two.
Im/migrants also often discuss Philippine politics and make nationalist statements, but they also discuss things that the previous two groups do not. For example, Im/migrants often blog about adjustment difficulties to their new countries. They also speak of the Philippines in nostalgic rhetoric that Cosmopolitans and the Philippine Elite do not use (“I remember when I used to be a kid in the Philippines that we used to do x”). Blogs written by Im/migrants many times end up discussing those Im/migrants’ children as well. Many Im/migrants, you see, are mothers. This is because of the particular way that migration from the Philippines is gendered. The Philippines is one of the world’s leading exporters of trained female nurses, and I’ve found a few blogs written by such. I’ve also seen a couple of blogs written by what I suspect are mail order brides, which are another export commodity of the Philippines. The country is also a leading exporter of female domestic workers (maids), but I’ve yet to find one blog written by one, probably because maids tend not to have the time to blog, and seldom the resources.
The children of those Im/migrants also constitute another category of Filipino bloggers, the Second Generation Diasporic Filipinos. I’m also including under this category 1.5 generation Filipinos and those Third Generation and later, but it’s simpler to have the one title. Second Generation Diasporic Filipinos rarely link to blogs written by the preceding groups nor leave comments. More than the other groups, these Filipino bloggers discuss race and ethnicity. Im/migrants also discuss such things, but these topics seem especially relevant to the Second Generation, judging by how much they blog about race and ethnicity. I’ve noticed the same in my interviews.
Finally come Younger Filipinos in the Philippines. Generally, they don’t link to blogs written by Second Generation Diasporic Filipinos, even though they’re the same age and often have similar interests. They’re far more likely to link to blogs written by the other groups. However, Younger Filipinos and Second Generation Diasporic Filipinos do link to each when their blogs are hosted on bloghosting services that attempt to foster community. In contrast to, say, Blogger, where the focus of the service is more on the individual blogger who attracts readers to their blog, services like LiveJournal or Xanga make it possible to make a group blog or to form a blogring. A group blog is a blog written by multiple bloggers, while a blogring is a group of blogs linked to each other; both are organized around a certain theme. The theme can be something like knitting, but the blogrings and the group blogs I’m interested in are ones organized around being Filipino. Bloghosting services don’t want their users to use competing bloghosting services, and one of the ways they do this is to make it difficult for their users to link to blogs hosted on other services, while at the same time making it easier to link to blogs hosted on the same bloghost. What effectively happens is that self-contained communities form that are centred around the fact that they all use the same bloghosting service. So when someone should create a new group blog or blogring for Filipino bloggers, what ends up happening is that both diasporic Filipinos and Filipinos in the Philippines end up joining. Second Generation Diasporic Filipinos and Younger Filipinos in the Philippines thus end up in the same blogging groups, unlike their fellows who use individual-oriented bloghosts or host their blogs on their own paid servers.
I have more stuff about racialization, exclusion, nationalism, internalized norms, print capitalism, and technologies of the self and regimes of truth and power, but all that stuff is really too big for a blog post. But stay tuned and I’ll probably get around to discussing them eventually.