Staunton, September 22 – Social networks in non-Russian languages are “becoming more popular than official media outlets,” and this “national Internet is exerting ever more influence on the consciousness of young people,” according to Gulnara Gabdrakhmanova, head of the department of ethno-sociology at Kazan’s Institute of History.
Gabdrakhmanova draws those conclusions on the basis of research she and her colleagues have been carrying out in Tatarstan, studies that define “the national Internet” as the collection of resources devoted to questions of ethnicity, culture, language and history (azatliq.org/a/29488495.html in Tatar; idelreal.org/a/29500285.html).
She tells Rimma Abdrashitova of Radio Svoboda’s Tatar-Bashkir Service that this portion of the Internet consists of two components – “portals of the organs of state power which seek to present the culture of the peoples of our country” and “social media,” which includes blogs, social networks, forums, and acquaintance sites.
Gabdrakhmanova and her colleageus analyzed the Tatar-language resource Matbugat (matbugat.ru/) and the Russian-language Tatpressa (tatpressa.ru/), two sites directed at very different portions of the Tatar audience – the first to residents in rural areas; the second to Tatars living in urban areas.
She notes that the Russian-language electronic media devote more attention to social themes and politics while the Tatar ones focus on religion, culture, morality, and family problems.” In general, the Kazan scholar says “besides Radio Azatlyk, the electronic national media almost do not write about politics” in the broadest sense.
Vladimir Putin’s moves on the language front have attracted attention in the non-Russian electronic media, she adds. Indeed, “problems of national languages have always been and will be important for people” because “one of the main components of support for ethnic self-consciousness is language.”
But Gabdrakhmanova points out that the division on language is very different than is often suggested in central commentaries. “Our research has always shown that a large number of respondents support the study of native languages” in the republics. “Russians of Tatarstan have said that they view with understanding the need to study Tatar in the republic.”
In other comments, she notes that there are “about 6,000” different public sites in Tatar, a number that is constantly growing and attracting new visitors and participants. These sites focus on an enormous range of issues and attract people from within the republic and far beyond its borders.
In part because of this growth, “printed media and state institutions are losing influence on the consciousness of people,” the Kazan ethno-sociologist says. Those trends will only increase because the non-Russian Internet is growing “geometrically” and will continue to do so, her studies suggest.
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