The identity diaspora in news consumption of immigrant children in Europe

This blog post is part of the ‘Jean Monnet Chair of European Media Governance and Integration Series’ headed by Jean Monnet Chair of European Media Governance & Integration Prof. Katharine Sarikakis, and curated by Wagner Piassaroli Mantovaneli and Markos Mpadanes.

 

Monika Tatarska

 

Talking about Europe nowadays, about the “Europe with no internal borders”, it becomes even harder to distinguish the individual national origin of each European citizen. Moreover, a significant part of the population tends to become immigrants. There are many different reasons: finding a better job, gaining more cross border experience and new opportunities or just curiosity. Some people make this decision only for themselves, but others decide for their whole family and most importantly for their born or to-be-born children. A survey among children of Romanian immigrants in Italy in 2013 finds almost a quarter of the children of Romanian immigrants have never been asked for their consent for dislocating abroad and the other 75% were asked after the decision had already been taken (Valtolina & Giovanni, 2012). This implies that even in case of consent, the possibility of children being asked is not very high, even though they are also bearing the consequences of this decision. They have to accommodate to their new homeland, they have to cope with the new environment and sometimes they have to learn the foreign language to be able to communicate outside home. This process often puts children’s social development on hold for a while and in many cases incurs ambiguity of national belonging.

Getting more and more familiar with the new environment, children start developing an interest in things happening around them. But immigrant children are prompted to choose between, on the one hand is the new “host” land and their current home, and on the other hand – their belonging or in a way their identification with the old homeland. Usually, the extent to which children show interest in the news is dependent on their parents. It is the parents’ news habits and interests, that model reinforcement of news consumption among children. According to Edgarly et al. (2018) “parents are still the core of developing news interest” but there are other factors such as school and peers, who play “a significant role above and beyond parental factors”. That means, speaking of children in general, there are many different factors, which affect their news consumption. Concerning children of immigrants, however, there is a variety of factors in their news perception, as there are two colliding worlds of news sources. This gives rise to the question: Is the news in the new or in the old homeland the one that meets their information needs?

“Diaspora identity is characterized by a tension between relations of belonging to some kind of original home or nation […] and to the place where one has now settled down and the larger usually national, community found there” (Christiansen, 2004). One of the biggest issues of identity diaspora in Europe is immigrant children´s exclusion from the national “we” in their host country, as well as in their homeland. And that, on the other hand, leads to future alienation of immigrant children in this society. A research about the role of the news in the lives of Jewish and Arab children, carried out in Israel in 2014, proves this alienation of Arab children from their nation of citizenship. The information needs of the Arab children are usually neglected by the national media target group. That is the reason why they are more prone to expanding their information horizon and thus become exposed to more news sources than Jewish ones, creating together a Paradox of children residing in the same country but living in two different worlds of news (Lemish, Pick-Alony, 2014). The European immigrant children are also confronted with the scarcity of world news on national broadcasting stations. The consideration of “We” in the national media and the absence of actual news, adapted to the needs of this group, turns them into a “gap” generation, belonging to two homelands and at the same time excluded from both them.

The problem of diaspora identities of children is not the access to various news sources, depending on what they want to know, but to obtain the news adapted to their needs. One possible solution could be the establishment of a transnational media and news flow in Europe, where “we” refers to all people and children, regardless of their origin and the country they reside in. Transnational media and news flow are dominated by practices, which connect many national contexts with the effect that an ambivalent relationship to all of them arises (Christiansen, 2004). Besides, it has been laid into the foundations of the European Union and even in its motto “In varietate unitas”- the importance of uniting European citizens. Furthermore, considering todays abolition of borders, even more people might become immigrants and their children can easily find themselves in this “gap generation”, belonging simultaneously to many countries but not being able to identify with either one of them.

Making this “new” society of immigrant children feel addressed and targeted in the news might become very beneficial for the united future of Europe. Diaspora involves double or multiple, but not necessarily split loyalties (Shaeffer, 1986). Moreover, the double or multiple belonging of the children now might turn into an evolution of political consciousness, creating future citizens being able to think of Europe as their home and take future decisions based on the welfare of all European countries.

 

References:

Christiansen, C. C. (2004). News media consumption among immigrants in Europe: The relevance of diaspora. Ethnicities, 4(2), 185-207. Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1468796804042603

Edgerly, S., Thorson, K., Thorson, E., Vraga, E. K., & Bode, L. (2018). Do parents still model news consumption? Socializing news use among adolescents in a multi-device world. new media & society, 20(4), 1263-1281 Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1461444816688451?journalCode=nmsa

Lemish, D., & Pick-Alony, R. (2014). Inhabiting two worlds: The role of news in the lives of Jewish and Arab children and youth in Israel. International Communication Gazette, 76(2), 128-151. Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1748048513504165

Shaeffer, Gabriel (1986) ‘A New Field of Study: Modern Diasporas in International Politics’, in G. Shaeffer (ed.) Modern Diasporas in International Politics, pp. 1–15. London: Croom Helm.

Valtolina, Giovanni Giulio. Migrant Children in Europe: The Romanian Case. Amsterdam :: IOS, 2013. Web. Link:https://books.google.at/books?hl=de&lr=&id=ZS2VAQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=Migrant+Children+in+Europe:+The+Romanian+Case.&ots=0C4ddx2InD&sig=lijquJ-VUWkrrhs1cQcdXPmkdxg#v=onepage&q=Migrant%20Children%20in%20Europe%3A%20The%20Romanian%20Case.&f=false

 

 

 

 

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