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Accepted Paper:

"We are a strong, big family": constructing alternative kinship on Facebook  
Berna Yazici (Bogazici University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the role of social media as a key medium for the emergence of alternative kin relations among those who grew up in state residential homes in Turkey.

Paper long abstract:

This paper draws on my ethnographic research with individuals who grew up under state care in residential homes in Turkey. Growing up in residential homes often marks one as kinless in the eyes of the wider society, leading to experiences of social discrimination both in institutional and post-institutional life. Social media emerges not only as a key medium for activism against this discrimination but also facilitates the construction of an alternative imaginary of kinship among those exposed to this discrimination. I examine how this alternative kinship formation takes place at multiple scales, contributing to the creation of social groups and networks of different sizes. I reflect upon how individuals who grew up in residential homes in different cities throughout the country get to imagine themselves as brothers and sisters, referring themselves as "a strong, big family." I also discuss how smaller groups such as those who were raised in the same residential home are constructed through kinship idioms. My discussion highlights the specific ways the very medium of Facebook contributes to the construction of these alternative kin relations, which were even extended to include me, the ethnographer in networks imagined through kinship idioms.

Panel P059
Kinship: taking stock in the light of social media
  Session 1