Exploring Digital Spaces: Combining Critical Discourse Analysis With Interviews to Study a Muslim Blog


This case study outlines the methodology employed to study a blog, named Yalla, written by young Italian Muslims. Because Italy is a predominantly Catholic country, Islam is often framed as “other” to mainstream culture. As a result, writing a blog can be for Italian Muslims a way to establish a voice in the public debate. This case study discusses two qualitative approaches that were combined to analyze Yalla: (1) Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and (2) interviews with the bloggers. CDA, taking into account power relations embedded in the context of textual production, allowed an understanding of blog narratives as resistive to dominant discourses. In performing CDA, I took into account the peculiar characteristics of blogs, such as their interconnectivity. Interviews with the bloggers helped understanding the motivations and personal experiences behind the blog. While, in some cases, it has been challenging to obtain interviews, this case study shows that sharing details of the research with the interviewees and approaching them in a friendly way can help gaining their trust. Reflections on my positionality as non-Muslim native Italian provided insights on how to approach both CDA and interviews. The lessons learned would be useful for researchers whose focus is on digital media and Internet discourses, and aim at working with minorities. This case study shows that it is possible to analyze a blog in a way that captures different layers of complexity and takes into account not only text, but also the opinions of the bloggers.

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