Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10356/73378
Title: Voice and identity in the autistic space of the blogosphere
Authors: Seidmann, Vered
Keywords: DRNTU::Social sciences::Communication
Issue Date: 2018
Source: Seidmann, V. (2018). Voice and identity in the autistic space of the blogosphere. Doctoral thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: The goal of this study is to explore how autistic identity is constructed through blogs, and, more broadly, to show how communication theory can provide new ways of looking at the communication behaviors of autistic persons in the autistic space of the blogosphere. This study was guided by the following three questions: (1) How do autistic people structure their identity as bloggers and how do they negotiate their identity through their blogs? (2) What does autistic identity mean to bloggers? (3) What are the underlying constructs of autistic identity? To address these questions, a grounded theory approach was applied to organize the main data collection, which included intensive face-to-face interviews, email interviews with bloggers and textual analysis of 2,873 blog posts with more than 10,000 pages of blog pages from 16 blogs authored by bloggers in Australia, Israel, Singapore, United Kingdom and the United States of America. Three main autistic-identity constructs emerged from the data: autism diagnosis, autistic agency and normality. Normality was found to be at the heart of a dialectic negotiation with the social world: rejection of the neurotypical perception of normality and adoption of autistic identity as identity of difference. Autistic diagnosis was found to be a formative construct for autistic identity. Autistic agency was found to be at the core of autistic identity, while self-stimulation-related behaviors were found to be at the core of the perception of autistic identity. Overall, the study’s findings demonstrate that the Internet has revolutionized the ability of autistic persons to communicate, create communities, promote social change through activism and communicate with the non-autistic world. In particular, the Internet has played a crucial role in the emergence of an international autistic community as well as the shaping of autistic identity at both the community and individual level. The personal space of the blog provides an arena in which autistic persons can explore their autistic selves and negotiate their identity with followers and the social world. Blogs create a safe space in which autistic persons can redefine themselves using their own voice and construct an identity as an individual and member of a community. In this light, the Internet and blogging in particular are radically reshaping contemporary thinking about autism, moving away from the biomedical conceptualization of autism as "deficiency" or "deficit" toward a socio-cultural view of autism as a manifestation of neurodiversity. The study offers several contributions to our evolving understanding of autistic identity. First, this is one of the first studies to explore autistic identity in the blogosphere, as previous communication studies focused on community platforms such as forums, chatrooms and community websites. Second, ground in communication theory, and in particular the work of Manuel Castells and James Carey, this study provides a conceptual framework that helps explain the roles the Internet and social media play in evolutions of autistic identity. Finally, the study demonstrates that communication approaches provide an important basis for investigating identity negotiation processes with the social world through blogging.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10356/73378
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:WKWSCI Theses

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