Romani Studies

The presentation of social status on a social network: The role of Facebook among the Vlax Romani community of Eastern-Slovak origin in Leicester, UK

Romani Studies (2019), 29, (2), 123–158.

Abstract

The article is based on long-term field research and consequent online research of a group of Vlax Roms of Eastern-Slovak origin who have recently created a new large immigrant community in Leicester, UK. The case study is based on data gathered via a combination of social anthropologic methods based on participant observation in the pre-migration period (Slovakia) and in the post-migration period (UK), complemented by the observation of online social practices among the community via Facebook. Focusing on Facebook profiles of the Roms from the studied groups and especially on the photographs posted on their Facebook statuses, the author analyses the role of social media in the contemporary Vlax Romani community. The author sees this topic as tightly connected with the process of cultural change occasioned by the migration to Britain and vertical social mobility among the immigrants. The author focuses on the functions served by Facebook among the Vlax Roms in Leicester. She pays attention to the ways in which Facebook profiles of the Roms reflect the social structure of the Vlax community in Leicester and how Facebook links together its individual members. She discusses Facebook as a platform for presentation of the Roms’ upward social mobility and of their ostentatious flaunting of status symbols, as well as an active tool of social control.

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HAJSKÁ, MARKÉTA