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Digital literacy practices of Saudi Female university students

Albawardi, A. H. (2018) Digital literacy practices of Saudi Female university students. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00077848


This study examines the way young Saudi women use language and other communicative resources in their digitally mediated interactions. It is motivated by the debate in Saudi Arabia on the impact of digital media on the way people use language, especially Arabic, the way they manage their social relationships, and the way they enact their cultural identities. The study was conducted at a women’s university in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. A hundred and three participants were asked to complete a questionnaire on their online language use. Forty-seven of those participants were asked to keep a detailed literacy log of their digital practices over a period of four days and to submit samples of their interactions for closer analysis. The theoretical framework used to analyze the data combines concepts from new literacy studies (Barton & Hamilton, 1998; Gee & Hayes, 2010; Street, 2003), multimodal discourse analysis (Kress & Van Leeuwen, 2006; Jewitt, Bezemer, & O'Halloran, 2016), and mediated discourse analysis (Jones & Norris, 2005; Scollon, 2001). The framework sees people’s language use in terms of social practices and explores how those practices are affected by the different media people use to communicate, and how mediated communication is linked to broader issues of culture and identity. The analysis reveals that the participants’ digital practices are multimodal and multilingual, and the choices they make about the codes and modes they use take place in the context of a complex nexus of practice, involving the interaction among (i) the affordances and constrains of the different technologies they use, (ii) the demands of their social relationships, and (iii) their individual experiences and socialization into different ways of communicating. By appropriating different codes and modes in different ways in social media, young Saudi women are able to strategically situate themselves in different cultural ‘worlds’, maintaining traditional identities and cultural practices while at the same time enacting new kinds of identities. The study contributes to the debate on the effect of digital media on language use by adopting a sociocultural approach which links language use to social practices, social relationships and social identities.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Jones, R.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Literature and Languages
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Language and Applied Linguistics
ID Code:77848
Date on Title Page:2017


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