The overall aim of this study is to interrogate the motives for the consumption of homeland media by immigrants. The special focus is to investigate whether cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1984) drives the consumption of homeland media by Somali immigrants living in Sweden. Every year more and more refugees from war-torn Somalia settle in Sweden, where they have become the largest community of Africans in Sweden. However, in settling in the Nordic country, the immigrants have had to grapple with an urge to maintain their identity as they face challenges such as integration and discrimination (Kleist, 2008). Even in their attempt to deal with new challenges, by integrating into the Swedish society by learning the Swedish culture and language, they have maintained the ‘old ties’ to their homeland in Somalia (Hiller & Franza, 2004) through the consumption of homeland media channels such as Radio Shabelle (via the internet) and Universal TV (satellite network).
It is the ‘old ties’ to the homeland by immigrants that has been a subject of substantial research in migration studies (see for instance, Hiller & Franza, 2004). The studies have focused on various dynamics such as everyday life, construction and sustenance of identity, acculturation as well as media use. Additionally, as an interesting area in audience research, studies into media consumption have attempted to throw light into how migrant communities satisfy their communication needs mostly based on the standard theory of uses and gratifications (Scherer, 2008). Consequently, the spotlight has been fixed on ethnic or ‘diasporic media’ (Georgiou, 2006) and how it sustains identity and culture (see Longhurst, 2007; Morley, 2007; Sinclair & Cunningham, 2000).
However, there has been little research on consumption of homeland media and particular motives that drive individual immigrants to engage in this practice. This study appreciates the significance of the vast research on culture and identity in diasporic studies but moves further to focus on the individual immigrant in the social space and the benefit(s) derived from this specific media consumption practice. This study therefore investigates the nature of the relationship between homeland media consumption by Somali immigrants in Sweden and Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital, based on interviews with immigrants aged between 21 and 40 years in Sweden.
International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR),July 27-31, Leicester, UK