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Session Overview
Session
RS11_06a_H: Celebrating Identity: Community-Building, Rituals of Belonging, and Diasporic Experiences
Time:
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Mihai Stelian Rusu, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu
Session Chair: Ismo Juhani Kantola, University of Turku
Location: HA.2.5
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 2.

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Presentations

Strengthening social ties: the role of the ‘Gathering’ in connecting the Irish diaspora

Bernadette Mary Quinn, Ziene Mottiar, Theresa Ryan

Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

Festivals and events are important social practices which have collective, participatory celebration as their central core. Drawing on social capital literature, the study reported here investigates the role that planned social gatherings play in shaping social ties within family units, specifically within families whose relationships are stretched by diasporic ties across varying geographical distances. Empirically, it draws on a study of the Gathering, a 2013 tourism initiative that encouraged people in Ireland to organise ‘gatherings’ aimed at attracting ‘home’ friends and families scattered across the globe. The initiative produced some 600 communal celebrations that ranged from the miniscule to the enormous. A significant proportion of the gatherings were family celebrations and it is a sample of these that are investigated here.

Drawing on survey, interview and focus group data gathered from both the Irish based family members who organised the gatherings, and the diasporic family members who travelled ‘home’ from abroad to participate, the findings demonstrate the profound meanings that the gatherings had for all concerned. They served to create and recreate social ties, strengthening connections across families members separated by geographic distance (predominantly the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia) and by chronological time (returning family members’ connections were sometimes generations apart from their current Irish relatives).They further served to renew and revitalise connections with the ‘home’ place and to build a sense of pride in that place not just for returning emigrants but for those family members living in Ireland. Finally, the findings show that a profoundly important role played by the ‘Gathering’ was to strengthen both national and family identity for both Irish-based and diasporic family members.


Disentangling the ins and outs of supremacy of appearing over being: the role of social networks interactions around consumer experiences building identity in the risk society

Laura Aso Miranda

Department of Sociological Theory, University of Barcelona, Spain

In the current scenario, the values guiding the behaviour of social actors are extensively subjected to the logic of the market. One of the greatest consequences of this trend drawing attention among sociologists is the growing importance of consumption both in the social and the personal spheres of life. In a previous paper, the concept of continuous consumption of new experiences was introduced along with its influence on identity construction in the risk society. The reason behind to highlight the relationship between this kind of consumption and identity is because the former is grounded on individualism, variety, change or novelty and this set of values allow individuals to become appreciated and reaffirmed.

This work aims to broaden the existing knowledge on the invisible forces driving consumer acts in the mentioned particular process of identity construction. Accordingly, a new element is introduced here with the support of the paradigm of symbolic interactionism of Mead and the externally conducted social character of Riesman: the role of communication of consumer acts in identity determination. Building on communicative methodology, which paves the way to collect quotidian insights of social actors from an intersubjective perspective while generating new sociological theory, this paper examine the extent to which 1) identity not only depends on what individuals live but on what they broadcast regarding the experiences they live, thereby developing certain types of celebration rituals; 2) social networks not only enable communication of consumer acts but strengthen these acts. As a result, interactions in social networks around consumption of experiences might be a significant driver for the dynamic of identity creation.


Young people at a revivalist movement’s summer gathering: celebrating the community, or just celebrating?

Paula Karoliina Nissilä

University of Tampere, Finland

This paper asks how religiosity is constructed in temporary celebratory settings through examining youths’ experiences of rituals and activities. While the religious affiliation and public participation are declining, some collective religious activities have continued popular. In Finland, the open-air revivalist mass gatherings are still build on traditional, formal rituals, and yet they attract masses of people every summer. Furthermore, it is argued that especially the appeal to young people is essential for religious communities. This paper explores the meanings that young, firmly involved participants attach to the summer event of the moderate Awakening movement, one of the two largest traditional revivalist movements under the protestant Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

This paper perceives the gathering as a festival context though the gatherings are often separated from the secular ways of spending leisure time. Drawing on interviews, narratives and observation the results show that the religiosity of young people at the gathering is strongly based on the peer solidarity created through social activities in the context separated from everyday life. The gathering also signifies a liminal transition phase for the youths. In previous studies among Finnish revival gatherings, the spiritual content has generally stood out as the main motivator to attend. The preliminary results of ongoing analysis on how the community and its rituals construct a religious space for the youths show that the liberal communality of the movement is especially valued.



 
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