Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Digital Community Storytelling as a Sociopolitical Critical Device

Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Digital Community Storytelling as a Sociopolitical Critical Device

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Narratives are self-reflection processes which serve to interrogate the social and cultural (Riessman, 2008). According to Bamberg (1997, p. 90) stories can be interpreted as an example of an individual experience or as a means to frame and situate the self and others in common/uncommon social practices. This may bring forward aspects that are used to explore the social meaning of one particular activity. With the advent of the Internet as the main channel of communication and information, storytelling is going through considerable changes and thus giving birth to new modes of telling a story, one such new mode is digital storytelling.

Digital storytelling has now been present on the World Wide Web since the 1990s when the Center for Digital Storytelling- an international, non-profit, training, project development, and research organisation dedicated to assisting people in using digital media to tell meaningful stories from their lives- started to use digital stories with the "focus on building partnerships with community, educational, and business institutions to develop large-scale initiatives in health, social services, education, historic and cultural preservation, community development, human rights, and environmental justice arenas, using methods and principles adapted from their original Digital Storytelling Workshop."

Since then, its presence in many different fields such as education, marketing, and social services (Dunford and Rooke 2014) has been increasing lately (cf. Alcantud-Díaz et al. 2014; Gregori-Signes, 2014; Nguyen and Robin, 2014) and is now reaching its peak, especially in education where digital storytelling is used at all levels- from primary to secondary school and at university level (cf. Jamissen and Holte Haug, 2014; Ramírez-Loyola, 2014; Yukse et al., 2014; Londoño Monroy, 2012; Ramírez-Verdugo and Sotomayor-Sáez, 2012; Reyes et al, 2012) - with impressive final results and classified by some authors as one of the most rewarding and motivating new tasks included in their syllabi (Brígido-Corachán, 2009; Gregori-Signes 2014; Lee, 2014). In turn, numerous websites (cf. McWilliam, 2009) report on the success of digital storytelling as a personal/individual mode of communication in which one chooses to relay on a more personal experience (Herreros Navarro, 2012; Rodríguez-Illera, 2014) which may help, in one way or another, to bring to life to unheard voices and memories (Dunford and Rooke, 2014).

Despite the variety of digital storytelling forms, their growth and expansion in the world (Brígido-Corachán and Gregori-Signes, 2014), their different contexts and many different purposes, still, as argued by Hartley and McWilliam (2009, p. 5), "there has been little of substance to analyse and situate digital storytelling in the context of new media studies" and analyse their content. It is in this respect that the present article seeks to make a contribution. The present article analyses community stories with the intention of testing whether they can be classified as examples of socio-political digital stories. That is, a critical tool that individuals may use in order to bring forward issues that may concern and affect democracy (Couldry, 2008), social welfare and social stability.

For the description of the genre socio-political digital storytelling, we draw upon the principles of critical discourse analysis (CDA) - this being understood as an approach rather than a method (van Dijk, 2001; Baker et al., 2008) - and on the principles of sociopragmatics (Leech, 1983, p. 10). Since, we believe in the importance not only of studying communication within its sociocultural context, but also in the need to find out the different sociopragmatic rules that may apply when denouncing situations which affect or may have affected someone's life. Moreover, a pragmatic dimension is present when describing the relationship held between story-author-audience and context since this relationship has been significantly altered by digital storytelling in general. …

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