Accepted Paper:

Shepherds go online: a case study  


Claudio Casula (University of Cagliari)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on Sardinian shepherds’ online communities and their attempt to redefine their social identity while struggling for their rights in local, national and transnational spaces.

Paper long abstract:

New communication technologies provided by Internet have facilitated the appeareance of an unprecedented variety of communities and social practices which deploy themselves in a virtual space highly connected and filled with everyday habits, customs and patterns. In Sardinia, the Movimento Pastori Sardi (MPS), a social movement of shepherds reunited to claim their rights, built a particular virtual space within Facebook where sheep herders attempt to construct their own group identity and to face new challenges. In addition to periodical meetings and public demonstrations, such spaces are opportunities for members, associates and sympathizers who learn about news and events, sharing their claims and establishing new social relationships. The paper focuses on MPS Facebook fanpage and other relevant blogs and social networks. Among the issues addressed are the following: are the Internet and its uses perceived as profitable by sheep herders? Have this "virtual room" been able to improve awareness and cohesion among the group? To what extent sheep herders or sympathizers are able to talk candidly? Are there rules and behaviour worth censoring? How and to which extent real-life activities concerning MPS affect its online counterpart? Finally, the paper aims to shed light on these issues by exploring how social and power relationships established between members in a virtual setting influence and change the strategies adopted by the MPS during its daily life.

Panel P15
Labour, market and policy: European shepherds today