Discourses of Connectedness: Globalization, Digital Media, and the Language of Community
This dissertation provides both ethnographic and linguistic analysis of how translocality and transidiomatic practices intersect the ways in which people organize their social worlds in the digital and information age. I explore how translocality informs how people understand, construct, and experience a voluntary and avocational community and identity in their everyday lives, through the lens of a global, video gaming community, centered around a game called League of Legends. In this dissertation, I focus on understanding how distributed players and developers together co-construct a sense of community, belonging, and connectivity, through both language and interaction online and offline.
This analysis first discusses how players and developers co-construct community and identity through language, distinctiveness, and authenticity. The data in this dissertation is used to highlight how players and developers use language in their everyday interactions to construct particular group identities, through specific lexical and material styles. I then discuss how a sense of community and belonging are constructed in the social network through moral participation and engagement, both institutionally and endogenously, looking particularly at stance, directives, assessments, and structure-preserving transformations. Further, I discuss how players and developers co-create community through understandings and narrative experiences of translocality and temporality that focus on empathy and the experience of playing the game itself.
At a macro level, this dissertation discusses the analytic concept of community and problematizes the multiple and varying definitions of speech community. As technology and globalization continue to impact, transform, and recreate communities, there is a great need for expanding our understanding of speech communities as one that accounts for the changing ways in which people constitute meaningful participation in a society or culture. This research provides an empirical example of how participation, fluidity, interconnectedness, and sense-making unfolds, particularly in the everyday interactions of a specific, global network of players and developers.