Paltalk forums as alternative public sphere and platforms for political discussion : a case study of Somali online community
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In recent years, in internet online forums, specifically, those who provide audio and video communication have become an effective way of communicating with people from across the world in a short period of time. These forums also become effective in sending and receiving immediate feedbacks and comments just like a face to face meeting. In this way, the online forums have revolutionized the ways in which people interact, access information, and also comment on the social and political issue. In this light, that the internet, as argued by many, has facilitated new public sphere -online forums -where many people who might live in different parts of the world might be able to instantly meet and conduct discussions through which they can reach some consensus their common concern issues and possibly form a public opinion. Consequently, the forums on internet build a breaking for emergency of new public sphere and platforms for political discussions. The Patalk is one of the leading internet websites that provides the people with hundreds of such online forums. However, questions can be asked about how the Paltalk forums which many consider as spaces where inane chatters congregate to only spend a time could fulfill Habermass preconditions for the public sphere to exist and become an inclusive arena of rational-critical debates. In trying, to address this question, the thesis attempts to explore the Paltalk forums and find out whether they might alternative public sphere and platforms for political discussion. It presents a qualitative case study of the Somali online community (SOC) who uses the Platalk forums and focuses two forums, (e.i. Qolka Guusha Dowlada Live wareeysi Gobalada Dalka (QGDWGD) and Qolka Qaranimada Umada iyo Midnimada Somaliyed (QQUMS). Thus, in order to provide comprehensive insights and understanding of issue in focus, the thesis first explores the idea of the public sphere and relates it with social media sites (SMS). Then, it moves to explicate the public sphere in the Somali traditional context. In this explication, the thesis discusses three different arenas, the madal, ardaa and Makhaayad, which are very important meeting in Somali tradition. Afterwards, the thesis goes on presenting the case study of the research: Paltalk forums as alternative public sphere and platforms for political discussion: A case study of Somali online community. The researcher argues that, two observed Paltalk forums Somali are alternative online public sphere and political platforms. But however he puts a question mark on generalizations of the results on entire Somalis since a huge portion of Somali people couldn’t get access to the internet either because of their socioeconomic status or because they lack the skills to use the internet.