Cultural Uses of New, Networked Internet Information and Communication Technologies:

Implications for US Latino Identities
Jonathan James McCreadie Lillie
Master's Thesis, 1998

School of Journalism and Mass Communications
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Committee Members: Lucila Vargas (advisor), Anne Johnson, Marcus Breen
  Index of Chapters


I. Methodology

II. Theoretical Considerations: Cultural Identity, Cultural Space and US Latinos

III. Television

IV. The Internet

V. Results of the Pilot Survey

VI. Implications and Conclusions

VII. References

VIII. Appendix A. Copy of Email Survey

IX. Appendix B. Internet Terms

X. Appendix C. Sample Web Page



As the volume of transnational cultural flows continues to increase, greater understandings are needed of what cultural space and cultural identity might mean for real people Ð both those at the margins and those who are more privileged (by dominant cultures and political-economies) within society. The spatial bias of electronic media necessitate research approaches that seek to understand the matrices of (1) the political-economy of text production and distribution, (2) the cultural implications of these texts within the social uses of audiences, and (3) the potential for beneficial uses of new media environments which can be seen as vital means for reducing the hegemony of 1 over 2.

David Morley and Kevin Robins (1995) have asked how communication systems are involved in the construction and maintenance of cultural identities in an era of changing patterns of global and local image and information spaces. My thesis will attempt to begin such an inquiry by analyzing the cultural uses of the conglomeration of information and communication technologies that run through what is commonly referred to now as "the Internet."

Although the Internet is largely populated by English-language sites and technologies (with a heavy US influence), it is accessed by people of almost every nation and contains numerous cultural and social spaces. Yet despite the growing cultural, social, political and economic significance of the new, networked information and communication technologies of the Internet, there are no established theoretical and methodological models for understanding and analyzing the implications of peoples' cultural uses of these technologies. This is a major obstacle for the future of Internet and New Media Studies.

To find some appropriate and developed concepts with which to explore cultural uses of Internet technologies, this thesis first looks to literature on the nature of identity construction, cultural identity and cultural uses of television. Television has been studied for many years due to the prominence it has achieved all over the world as a domestically consumed information and entertainment medium.

The cultural uses of media by US Latinos are explored in this thesis as a focal point for placing this inquiry of identity and cultural uses of media and the Internet within the context of real cultural groups and the daily lives of real people. The focus here is on the role played by Spanish-language television and Internet use in the cultural identity construction of some Latinos. The goal of this inquiry will be to help answer my primary research question: What is the nature of the use of new, networked communication and information technologies for (1) cultural identity maintenance and (2) cultural reproduction in an age of rapid change and convergence in communication technologies? A secondary research question is: How does the cultural use of new communication and information technologies differ from the cultural use of television?

As stated above, the principal reason that this thesis takes up questions of cultural uses of television is to help find concepts with which to study cultural uses of the Internet Ð a new arena of research where very little scholarly theoretical and empirical work has been done. Much of the best and most useful research on social and cultural uses of media have focused on television. Furthermore, there is available information on the Spanish-language television industry and the use of US Spanish-language television by US Latinos.

As this thesis shows, the heterogeneous nature of US Latino identities, cultures and cultural uses of media in the USA called for an in-depth look at these issues and helped to further understandings of cultural uses of the Internet. In addition to there being a lack of theoretical development concerning Internet use, there are also not many precedents for ways to gather useful data on this subject. Therefore, the strategy of this thesis has been: (1) to explore useful concepts on cultural identity construction and cultural uses of television (this was done through literature reviews and theoretical synthesis and covers issues of US Latino cultural identities and uses of Spanish-language television), (2) to design and use a pilot study for gathering information about US Latinos' cultural uses of the Internet, and (3) to take the results of this study and the concepts of identity and television use to offer some insights on the nature of cultural identity maintenance and cultural reproduction via the use of Internet information and communication technologies.

Ever since Marx and Engles, some scholars and activists have been concerned with the locus of control of the means of production being the hands of a small power elite. We now live in a society where not only the means of physical production are owned and run by the capitalist class, but the means of symbolic (i.e. cultural) production are as well. With commercial television, this is a constant flow of texts Ð carefully created cultural encodings designed to gather the largest possible audience to sell to advertisers. Commercial television production is thus committed to reproducing the most dominant and popular ideologies, lifestyles and cultural symbols, neglecting positive representations and tastes of groups marginalized within societies. Commercial sites on the Internet also produce content according to this capitalist logic. Yet, at the same time, Internet technologies present many more opportunities for marginalized (and other) groups for expression, publication and horizontal communication. As scholars we must work to better understand what this means for culture, ideology and identity.

Television is, culturally, the most important medium in much of the world. Many scholars, such as those working from the Birmingham school, have criticized this growing cultural significance while studying active audience uses of this medium. The near future of entertainment/information technology promises continued convergence of media platforms. Push (television) and pull (World Wide Web) options might coexists in multimedia environments.

The reality of present and future communication technologies necessitates the application of various research traditions within reception and media studies to grapple with the growing frequency and importance of multimedia use for cultural identity and social and political interaction. My thesis work will attempt to address this concern by analyzing the various ways that both Spanish-language television and the Internet are used by various Latino groups to facilitate identity construction and cultural maintenance. Implications are drawn as to how media use for cultural identity construction might be influenced as Latinos and others engage in the more participatory processes of Internet use.

Newly introduced media technologies have always assumed massive cultural significance in that quite literally the symbols of a society or societies are communicated within a different syntax and with varying strategies with each new medium. The introduction of radio and film, for example, had profound effects in many Latin American countries where they were vital tools in creating a sense of nation and national identity and culture. One of the main goals of this thesis is to argue that for culturally marginalized groups such as US Latinos, selective use of television texts has been an important strategy for cultural identity maintenance. Networked technologies can be used for cultural maintenance and reproduction and other empowerment outcomes for members of marginalized groups.

Network access can provide a variety of alternative cultural and social spaces to the pervasive cultural grip of English and Spanish-language transnational media corporations. Yet the use of networked information and communication technologies is mostly the privilege of relatively elite groups of middle and upper class peoples in wealthy areas of the world. Public Internet access projects and participatory communication policies must be implemented if the democratic and empowerment potential of network use is to be realized. By discussing the limited benefits of television use and the greater possibilities of Internet use for cultural reproduction and other empowerment processes, this thesis seeks to inform access projects, policy and future considerations of the many issues involved.

Concerning television use, an exploration of both the social and individual uses and gratifications of Spanish-language television has been grounded within an informed look at the development and the current status of the commercial US Spanish-language broadcasting industry. This literature review shows that while the economic and political goals of the commercial media work towards the cultural and political merging of heterogeneous US Latino groups, selective exposure/uses can include cultural maintenance that reinforces diverse cultural identities. For Internet use, both identity construction and cultural expression will be explored by surveying US Latinos who use the Internet. This data will be synthesized with concepts of cultural identity and media use for cultural maintenance for the purpose of deriving a better understanding of the different processes involved for cultural uses of Internet technologies.

There are many reasons why audiovisual spaces, particularly mainstream Spanish-language television and the alternative cultural spaces available on the Internet, might be important to US Latinos. When many Anglo-American peoples think of 'American television culture' they think of programming offered by the major English-language networks: Sienfeld, pro football, Dan Rather, The Simpsons, Oprah, N.Y.P.D Blue, Regis and Kathy Lee, General Hospital. Programs are created to attract the largest possible audiences to sell to advertisers.

The legacy of US media studies, both traditional quantitative content analysis and textual criticism, have demonstrated the disparities, inequalities and biases of the mainstream media, both entertainment and news (if the two can be separated). Among these critics have been an increasingly vocal and visible group, concerned with the position of Latino images and cultures in US television programs and other mediums as well (Subervi-Velez, 1994). Jimmy Smits from N.Y.P.D. Blue, for example, represents one of the few Latino television stars, or Latino actors in general, to be found on prime time US television. Furthermore, US Latinos in the mainstream English-language news are more often framed as problems: illegal immigrants or gang members (Subervi-Velez, 1994).1 Preferred language, social/political issues, information, and images and cultural symbols likely to be valued by multicultural US Latino groups, are lacking in the mainstream English-language audiovisual spaces. Thus these audiences often chose Spanish-language channels when such media are available. This is one of the main reasons that advertisers interested in marketing to the potentially vast US Latino (or rather official "Hispanic") audience, about ten percent of the US population, do so through Telemundo and Univision, the major US Spanish-language networks.

Figure 1.

 There are around 25 million people classified by the government as Hispanic living in the US (Figure 1). These descriptions, "Hispanics," "Mexican-Americans," "Cuban-Americans," etc,.. are part of the official dominate nomenclature. Indeed, many people who have immigrated from Mexico and now reside in the US do chose to call themselves Mexican or Mexican-American, but these terms come with much cultural baggage no matter which side of the border you live on. The term "Hispanic" was not widely used until government agencies began to use the it in the 1970s. A person is of Hispanic origin if the person's ancestry is Mexican, Mexican-American., Chicano, Puerto Rican, Dominican; from any Spanish-speaking countries of the Caribbean, Central or South America; or from Spain (Oboler, 1995:1).3 Suzanne Oboler in, Ethnic Labels, Latino Lives (1995), states:

The term [Hispanic] fails to recognize the extremely rich ethnic and racial diversity of Latin Americans, for example, Argentineans of Italian, German or French, descent; Mexicans of Irish or Japanese ancestry; Cubans with Spanish, Lebanese, African or Chinese forebears; Peruvians of English, Russian-Jewish or Inca lineage; Venezuelans of Polish or Uruguayan stock; Brazilians of Korean or Greek heritageÐ the varieties go on. And, of course, there are those many Latin Americans who are entirely or partly African and American Indian ancestry with some of the above thrown in (Oboler, 1995: xiv).

Oboler notes in her work that various political forces have been responsible for how Latinos are defined, and that these definitions have affected how individuals and groups define and understand themselves. Many Chicanos in the US Southwest and Puerto Ricans, for example, have been living under US colonization for many generations, yet they are considered under that same Hispanic label as the wave of Latin American immigrants arriving in larger numbers in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s (Oboler, 1995). In media and political arenas, both television giants and Latino journalists and politicians seek various unities and convergences (cultural and socio-political) of diverse Latino groups to further their perspective market oriented and political goals.4 Felix Padilla has offered the term "Latinismo" to describe projects and movements for Latino political unity for the purpose of addressing social and economic inequalities (Oboler, 1995).

The criticisms of the US English-language media discussed above can be seen within the "liberal" tradition of (mainly US) mass communication research. Liberal feminist media studies in the US, for example, have used techniques such as content analysis of female representations on mainstream television to illustrate the frequent use of negative stereotypes and other inequities (Steves, 1987). Although liberal feminists have been widely criticized in the past for neglecting questions of race and class, media studies of Latino representations in the US have often used similar techniques and arguments (Subervi-Velez, 1994). Where identity is concerned, the some US researchers in this "liberal" tradition posit (though sometimes not explicitly) that the inadequate and negative representations of women and Latinos (and other marginalized groups as well) in the media are likely to have detrimental effects on the identity construction and self-view of members of these groups.

Questions of Television Use

Although it seems doubtful that Spanish-language television provides more equitable representations of women, it does offer a cultural/representational sanctuary for many US Latinos. The vast networking, communication and expression capabilities of the Internet can be seen as another sanctuary/source for desired representations. When the task is to discuss how these cultural spaces interact with cultural identity, liberal mass communication research methods and theoretical assumptions are inadequate. Instead, we must look to reception studies, cultural studies and critical communication theory. Chapter Three of this thesis covers several concepts from these areas of study which have been applied to understandings of the interaction of television texts and their audiences. Particular attention will be paid to how US Latinos use Spanish-language television for cultural identity construction and maintenance.

Of the different approaches that been used to study processes of television use, reception studies have been particularly pivotal in mapping out the vital role of the audience/media consumer(s), in the construction of uses and meanings during processes of reception. The concept of the active audience Ð that users of television, radio and other media selectively expose themselves to certain texts (programs) and selectively (both consciously and unconsciously) make meaning of these texts Ð has been one of the most important observations within relatively recent media and communication studies. Theories of selective exposure are vital to any understanding of how heterogeneous groups of US Latinos use messages within available cultural and social spaces to help construct individual and collective identities.

Selectivity is first encountered in an audience's decision to view/consume certain programs that match their personal preferences, tastes and viewing habits. Uses and gratifications research has aimed to find out what motivates program selection and what audiences "get out of" their viewing experiences (entertainment, companionship, information, etc...). Reception studies can be seen as going further. This emerging area of research has worked from the uses and gratification focus on audiences (as opposed to texts), and cultural studies' concern with how social and cultural power relations affect reception and the production of meaning within mediated experiences and other social events as well.

British cultural and communication studies have been particularly influential in the development of what is now known as reception studies (particularly due to the work of British scholars Stuart Hall and David Morley, which is discussed at several points throughout this thesis). Students of reception studies have looked at questions of (1) the role social/group environments in television consumption (Morley), (2) social uses of media texts, and (3) the nature of encoding and decoding processes (Hall). Chapter Three discusses how these three areas of research offer ideas of how processes of television consumption influence individual and group identities. It is the research of Stuart Hall (and others) on the nature of text encoding and decoding, however, that is most fundamental in connecting the political-economy of text production with the possible consequences of this logic on the cultural identity of audiences (while at the same time not relapsing into an implicit appropriation of "direct effects" to explain away assumptions about the indoctrinating power of the mass media).

In "Encoding, Decoding" (1980), Hall insists that we understand the moment(s) of the creation of the text and the moment(s) of reception and creation of meaning as distinct situations taking place in different environments (social, political, economic). Encoding occurs when the media, as cultural producers, take information and ideas and put them into linguistic codes. These coded texts are designed to work to "enforce, win plausibility for and command as legitimate a decoding of the event within the limit of dominant definitions in which it has been connotatively signified" (Hall, 1980:134).

For commercial television this means encoding that frame and define commercialism, consumption, capitalism, and other concepts such as versions of democracy and individuality, all as natural, positive-goods Ð institutions, customs and lifestyles not to be questioned. Hall considers a dominant reading, one in which a viewer accepts and buys into the meanings that a text is intended to convey. Yet, other decodings, which are important in understandings of the active audience, are possible. With a negotiated reading an audience only accepts part of what the text has been designed to convey while disagreeing with other parts or creating alternative meanings as well. An oppositional reading/decoding involves an audience's complete usurpation of the text, creating an alternative and often critical meaning/interpretation. Another important aspect of the decoding process is conscious and unconscious identification with certain symbols or events occurring within a text. Thus, a Latina watching a Spanish-language program might recognize a situation in the text as sexist, (which can be negotiated or oppositional stance) while identifying with a strong, matronly figure.

Although negotiated and oppositional readings are possible, these are limited due to social and cultural institutions, and other sources of social power, that reinforce and facilitate dominant readings. The motivations and institutional structures that affect text production must therefore be explored as extremely relevant locations that influence cultural identity. Chapter Three includes a discussion of the development and current political-economy of the US Spanish-language television industry as a necessary step for understanding encoding and decoding battles waged within and around the mainstream US Latino audiovisual spaces and US Latino identity by the corporate Spanish-language cultural industries and US Latino communities and individuals themselves. Today, some US Latino communities are not only faced with questions of the motivations and powers behind Spanish-language broadcasts, but often, and more importantly, whether any Latino-oriented-audiovisual spaces are offered at all in places where the cultural needs of Latinos are not a priority for commercial industries. This is the case in the city of Raleigh, NC, where a grassroots group of US Latinos is pushing for greater cable access to Spanish-language television (The Raleigh News and Observer, 1997, August 14). As mentioned before, Internet access is another issue affected by the politics of culture and economics.

Questions of Internet Use

Understandings of the hegemonic-like cultural power of the media and the selective exposure of audiences are invaluable to media studies. However, much more work still needs to be done to reconcile these two areas of observation and scholarship. If networked, computer-mediated cultural and social spaces might become (at least for some groups) the most dominant information/entertainment/communication model in the future (eclipsing or engulfing television as we know it), then both concepts (hegemony and selective exposure) must be revised in consideration to what they might offer for analysis of Internet use and the evolving cultural implications of the information/communication "revolution."

Compared to broadcast and cable television, the information and entertainment options available on the World Wide Web are incredibly vast and diverse despite the economic barriers to network and hardware access. Audio, video, text-based, hyper-text and real-time communication are currently being used. Rather than creating beneficial meanings from limited numbers of sources, multifarious texts matching specific interests and needs are more likely to be available via the Web or other Internet technologies. Most significantly, Internet access allows for many types of participation in communication processes. This fact has significant implications for identity construction, cultural maintenance, the creation of cultural texts and social networking. Through engaging in such processes, the empowerment potential of Internet use is great (Lillie). As some postmodernists have pointed out, such opportunities can be especially important to members of groups marginalized culturally and socially by mainstream society. "Virtual communities" have been studied as communities of association where individuals use computer networks to express themselves and to commune with members of a particular identity group (Braddlee, 1993). Yet utopian predictions concerning the Net's impact on human civilization often bypass the social, economic and political inequalities in which the mechanisms of cyberspace exist. English-language and corporate culture are certainly greatly over represented. Furthermore, the information and communication technologies used via the Internet are, for the most part, only available for upper middle-class peoples in highly-industrialized nations.

When considering the present and future of new, networked information and communication technologie, it is certain that while they seem to have many positive and democratizing uses, there are also many obstacles that limit this potential. Thus, to begin with, the cultural, political, social and even economic implications of Internet use by marginalized groups (and also by developing nations) must be explored to see if any of the Net's potential is being realized. A second step is to analyze (1) which technologies are being used (2) to different ends (3) by what groups or interests. This information should be used in policy considerations for access projects and NII (National Information Infrastructure) initiatives.

I. Methodology

Given the complex and diverse nature of this thesis research, I hope to offer a multidisciplinary and positional approach. Positionality (a term similar in meaning to standpoint epistomology) is a key concept in this challenge towards considering the pervasive cultural realm which many students of cultural studies have recognized as blurring the distinctions between cause and effect. This connotes an epistemological, practical and vital respect for the lived experiences and heterogeneous environments in which people consume, mediate and create cultural symbols. It also recognizes the limitations and layered conceits of scholarly authority where myths of "others" are produced within many of the same discourses that have sprung from the Godhead of modernity, facilitating various forms of marginalization through capitalism and hegemonic power structures. A positional analysis can be a powerful alternative to the external cultural definitions offered by traditional, mainstream, hegemonic mass communicated messages. Positionality quite simply refers to the subjective nature of personal and group interpretations of reality, and thus, a positional analysis seeks to gather knowledges from various perspectives and contexts relating to research subjects. The epistemological standpoint of the researcher must be acknowledged in relation to the cultural projects and other issues important to research subjects.

As a researcher, my epistemological standpoint has been highly influenced by the opportunity to attend (1) a private liberal art college, and (2) a public university for a Master's degree. My political views are socialist. I was raised in a middle-class, Caucasian family in a college-town in North Carolina (USA). Although my beliefs and experiences have certainly guided my assumptions and conclusions, the methods I chose to gather data on US Latino's cultural uses of the Internet have given some individuals who are US Latinos a voice within this research. Furthermore, much of the purpose of this research has been to explore how to go about studying the cultural uses of new, networked information and communication technologies. Thus, paying attention to the research process and the types of results achieved has been important for helping to offer a theoretical and methodological framework for future work. Finally, I think that the physical isolation, and often inaccessible syntax of academia creates hierarchical or at least skewed relationships between most scholarly work and the lives of the real communities that are often studied. With this in mind I plan to publish my thesis, once it is completed, on the Web. The (information) elitist nature of the Internet not withstanding, I believe that this is the most logical and most doable way of taking advantage of an increasinly global technology to enhance interconnectedness with a wide array of communities and interests.

To reiterate, my main research question is twofold: What is the nature of the use of new, networked communication and information technologies for (1) cultural identity maintenance and (2) cultural reproduction in an age of rapid change and convergence in communication technologies? The secondary research question (How is the cultural use of new communication and information technologies different than television use for this purpose?) is largely a sub-category of the primary question and is answered during the course of the thesis. My research methods for answering my main question have been (1) theoretical synthesis, and (2) a qualitative pilot study of Internet use which consists of an email survey of US Latino Internet users. In attempting to develop an approach to this research, I found that theoretical perspectives of Internet use are still are in their infancy. Furthermore, the literature on cultural identity and the cultural significance of media use are fragmented and complex. Thus, this thesis continually strives to extract and built on the most useful concepts of collective identity and media use which are then applied to the results of the pilot study to help answer the main research question. In drawing conclusions from the research, I have begun to suggest (in Chapter Six) some useful, yet preliminary, concepts for a theoretical framework for understanding cultural uses of Internet technologies (a project that I plan to work on in the future).

The theoretical challenge/goal involved is to utilize the knowledge bases and theories covered to explore the nature of individual and group media use for cultural identity and expression. This endeavor is vital for being able to apply some these concepts to the use of Internet technologies as well. Thus, much of the thesis is devoted to this theoretical synthesis. I started by looking at what has been written about collective identity, cultural space, and television use (particularly US Latinos' use of Spanish-language television) because there is useful research on these subjects. This literature review and theoretical synthesis is taken up mostly in chapters Two and Three. Chapter Two tackles three questions in order to establish a conceptual background for the thesis. These questions are: (1) What is the nature of cultural identity construction within "late modernity?", (2) What are "cultural spaces" and how are they affected by the dominant, capitalist audiovisual industries? and, (3) Who are US Latinos, and how might their identities be affected by colonization of their cultural spaces? The concepts drawn from looking at these questions are then applied to research on television use which is covered in Chapter Three. Discussion in this chapter concerns how television in general, and also Spanish-language television, may be used for cultural maintenance and draws heavily on Manual CastellsÕ theories of collective identity formation and other ideas about the nature of cultural identity. Lastly, a look at the US Spanish-language television industry is offered to help contextualize research of television use by US Latinos. We come out of these two chapters with an understanding of several key concepts of what cultural identity might be and how it can be influenced and maintained through the consumption of domestic media. This theoretical framework is then utilized to analyze the data collected in the pilot study. Chapter Five presents the results of this study, while Chapter Six will answer the main research question by discussing the implications of the survey results and concepts from earlier chapters. The purpose of Chapter Four is to briefly cover some background information and research on the Internet as a context for discussing the results of the pilot study.

The original, "virtual" fieldwork (the pilot study) for this project analyzes Internet use for cultural identity maintenance, expression and communication. I am calling this "virtual" fieldwork a pilot study due to the fact that I am attempting to develop this as a useful technique for answering questions about Internet use. This pilot study is thus both a means to gathering data, and is also an end in itself, since one of the purposes of this thesis is to develop a methodological model for researching the uses of new, networked information and communication technologies.

The steps taken in this virtual pilot study were as follows: A) I visited Web sites created by US Latinos and which offered information or other content for and about US Latinos.
B) Next, I emailed some of these Web authors to find a volunteer group of US Latino Internet users for an email survey designed to gather data to help answer my research question.
C) Most of these surveys were completed and emailed back to me, at which point they were processed and used to help answer the main research question.

Seventeen questions were included in the survey. A copy of the complete emailed survey (which also had demographics questions and a section on anonymity) is offered as Appendix A. The survey questions are presented below in four series. Each series contains related questions and a brief discussion of why these questions were chosen for my pilot study.

Survey Questions: Series One

1. What US Latino/Hispanic media do you use regularly? a) magazines b) television c)newspapers d) radio

2. Do you use US Spanish-language media? a) not at all b) sometimes c) frequently

2.1. If so, what Spanish-language media do you use? (chose those that apply) a) magazines b) television c) newspapers d) radio e) list others

3. Do you consider Spanish-language television to be a viable cultural resource?

3.1. If so, why?

Questions numbers one through three were included to be able to compare the importance of various Latino and Spanish-language media for each respondent to their Internet use. I hoped that question three, furthermore, would help add to the knowledge gathered in Chapter Three about the importance of Spanish-language television for some US Latinos. Some of the data on Spanish-language television use suggests that bicultural and low (Latin American heritage)5 groups might get less out of using this medium. I wanted to see how many of my respondents used Spanish-language television and whether they think it is valuable as a Latino cultural space.

Series Two

4. Do you feel that your culture, the cultural background and heritage that you and your family identify with are marginalized or underrepresented within the mainstream culture in the US? Please explain.

For question four, I was wondering if feelings of marginalization might predict (1) the respondents attitudes about the cultural significance of Internet use, and (2) the cultural and political content of their pages.

Series Three

5. How many years have you been using the Internet?

6. From where do you have/get Internet access? a) home b) work c) library d) friend(s) e)list other

Question six is particularly important for discovering the social environment of Internet use. One of the major differences between television and Internet use may be the nature of social environments which can significantly influence the mediation and interpretation of texts. The number of years a respondent has been using the Internet will be an important factor in future research where a larger number of subjects are surveyed. At that point I may be able to draw conclusions on whether the nature of Internet use may change as more experience and knowledge about cultural resources are gained by individual users.

Series Four

7. Do you have a personal or group web page?

7.1. If so what is the URL?

8. What kind of content have you put on your Web page?

8.1. Is your Web page important to you as a site for cultural expression?

8.2. Why or why not?

Questions seven and eight were used to find out the nature of cultural reproduction and participation of respondents via the World Wide Web. The Web is definitely one of the most culturally significant technologies available through the Internet due to the wide range of media that users can access and consume, while also being able to publish their own texts. The creation of a personal or group Web page can represent an important use of new, networked media. Those who create "Latino" Web pages may also be helping to create virtual communities of US Latinos.

Series Five

9. Have you visited Web pages created by and for Latinos? Why?

9.1. What is the cultural significance of Web pages created by and for Latinos?

10. Have you interacted with other US Latinos via the Internet?

10.1. What specific Internet technologies have you used to do this? (email, listserves, the Web, etc)

10.2. Why are these interactions important to you? (culturally and otherwise)

11. Of the Latino oriented Web sites that you use (or have used), what percentage would you estimate are US sites, versus sites originating within Latin American countries?

12. Do you use the Internet to communicate with people who live in Latin America?

13. Do you think that interaction with people and (Web) sites from Latin America influences your cultural identity? How so?

14. Has your perception of Latino communities and culture in the US been influenced by your Internet use?

15. How has your identification with these cultures been influenced by your Internet use?

The next series of questions, helped to find out how and why the Net is used for cultural maintenance and cultural communication. Numbers nine, ten, fourteen and fifteen aimed to assess whether respondents felt that interaction with US Latinos and US Latino culture(s) (via the Internet) was important to them, and how it was important to them. Similarly, eleven through thirteen assessed the importance of interaction with people and sites from Latin America.

Series Six

16. Do you think Internet access projects in poorer Latino communities could be beneficial? Why or why not?

17. Lastly, please describe your cultural identity, what you think it is and what influences it.

Question sixteen was included to see what kind of support there is for Internet access projects in poor communities. Part of my motivation in writing this thesis was to produce research that could help to document the potential benefits of such projects. Finally, by asking the last question, I hoped to see how the respondents described their cultural identity, in hopes of furthering my own understanding of it, and for supplementing the discussion of cultural identity offered in this thesis.

In addition to these main questions, there were also several included to gather demographic information on the subjects. These were: (1) current city/area of residence, (2) place of birth, (3) year of birth, (4) estimated personal or family income, (5) marriage status, (6) whether the respondent have children, (7) highest level of formal education, and (8) how often they used Spanish.

The last section of the survey was Òanonymity,Ó which allowed the respondents to chose a level of confidentiality for the information that they provided for this research. I also transferred the finished surveys to my home computer. Once all the surveys were on my hard-drive I deleted most of the correspondence between myself and the respondents, including the surveys, that were on my email server. The Human Research Review Committee advised deleting all the surveys and personal information on the respondents (such as email addresses) after the thesis was completed. The down side of this is that this data (the surveys) would no longer be available for future use in their original form. In similar research down-the-road, I plan to ask the respondents permission to be able to keep their information and surveys in storage. I did keep the email addressed and URLs of a few respondents who were interested in further correspondence about the issues covered in my thesis and in the surveys.

Fifty-three inquiries were sent out (as email) to various US Latino Internet users. Nineteen individuals who received this email replied saying that they wanted to participate in the pilot study. The survey was sent to all nineteen of these volunteers. Fourteen of them actually sent back completed surveys. I chose not to use one of these, due to the fact that this respondent did not understand several of the questions. To analyze the results of the final thirteen surveys, I first gave each respondent a pseudonym and grouped together all of the responses for each question. This allowed me to observe trends in the data for each question. For example, I could see that almost all of the respondents are able to access the Internet from home. Personal information given in response to the demographic questions was used to produce a brief biographical sketch of each survey participant. These biographies helped me to better understand the answers given to some questions. Overall, the responses were used to discuss the ways some people use Internet technologies for cultural maintenance and cultural reproduction and how concepts of media use can be applied to understandings of cultural uses of these technologies.


II. Theoretical Considerations Ð Cultural Identity, Cultural Space and US Latinos The selective uses of Spanish-language television, Internet uses and also actors seeking unified political action for US Latinos represent ways that audiovisual spaces can be used to beneficial ends. To establish an informed theoretical context for this thesis, several fundamental questions must be answered concerning the principal issues that are to be discussed:
(1) What is the nature of cultural identity construction within "late modernity?" (2) What are "cultural spaces" and how are they affected by the dominant, capitalist audiovisual industries? (3) Who are US Latinos, and how might their identities be affected by colonization of their cultural spaces?

What is the nature of cultural identity construction within "late modernity?"

All identities are constituted within a system of social relations and require the reciprocal recognition of others. not to be considered a 'thing' but rather a 'system of relations and representations'...the maintenance of an agent's identity is...a continual process of recomposition rather than a given one, in which, the two constitutive dimensions of self-identification and affirmation of difference are continually locked...identity is seen as a dynamic, emergent aspect of collective action (Schlesinger, 1987:236-7, quoted in Morley and Robins, 1995:46).

Identity can be described as the construction of meanings from lived experiences and realities on the basis of cultural attributes that are given priority over other sources of meaning and authority (Castells, 1997:6). Manual Castells in his comprehensive volume,The Power of Identity (1997), distinguishes between identity and social roles such as musician, Presbyterian, care-taker, or soccer player which are tied to formal and informal institutions and organizations of society. Castells writes that:

The construction of identities uses building materials from history, from geography, from biology, from productive and reproductive institutions, from collective memory and from personal fantasies, from power apparatuses and religious revelations. Individuals, social groups, and societies process all these materials, and rearrange their meaning, according to social determinations and cultural projects that are rooted in their social structure, and in their space/time framework (Castells:7).

Castells' hypothesis is that identity construction since modernity can be separated into three categories: (1) legitimizing identity, which is introduced by the dominate (hegemonic) institutions of society to further, reproduce and rationalize their privileges, power and domination vis-a-vis social actors (a theme which corresponds to analysis of nationalism and various media criticisms); (2) resistance identity, emerging from actors within cultures that are marginalized by dominate discourses and power relations, and who therefore build "trenches of resistance and survival" against these forces; and (3) project identity, "where social actors, on the basis of whichever cultural materials are available to them, build a new identity that redefines their position in society and, by doing so, seek the transformation of overall social structure" (Castells:8). Castells' identity construction typology is situated within an understanding of the political-economy of cultural production and social power within the era of "late-modernity" or postmodernity.

The defining features of this historical period is the primacy of transnational capitalist powers to control the use of communication and information technologies to colonize cultural spaces and socio-economic discourses with their products and neoliberal logic.6 The dominate ideology in modern societies is thus in transition from a nation oriented, state-driven hegemony to a new neoliberal order/hegemony where the consumption of transnational, multicultural products occurs within the vertical integration of most cultural symbols and meanings into this dominate political-economic logic. Yet, even in late-modernity, state governments, civil institutions and new social movements reacting against neoliberalism continue to strive for power and legitimacy in society and culture.

The nature of identity has been considered (at least implicitly) by modern scholars, particularly ontologists, existential philosophers, psychologists and others. It has only been in recent years, with the advent of cultural studies, that cultural identity has been labeled by name as a topic for consideration and research (Hall and du Gay, 1996)(Woodward, 1997). For the purpose of this thesis the discussion of cultural identity will be limited. Not much more is needed here than an understanding of how individuals or groups come to identify certain symbols, behaviors and ways of knowing as their, "our," or "my" culture. Cultural identity and collective group identity are two concepts whose similarities and differences are also considered within this Chapter and Chapter three.

Early modern writers who wrote on identity Ð what and who an individual feels she or he is, and what she or he identifies/has solidarity with Ð often held either essentialist or non-fixed views. For essentialists such as Descartes, Kant and Husserl, identity is naturally fixed within a person without possibility for change (Kellner, 1992). Other early modern philosophers including Hume, Nietzsche and Sartre considered identity as a variable which could be changed by the individual and his or her circumstances in life. Later theories of identity fit into this later, non-fixed grouping, but focus on the constructed nature of identity. Basically, these more contemporary modern writers have been preoccupied with understanding how social and cultural relations and institutions are instrumental in the construction of identities. Constructionists see identity as "constructed on the back of a recognition of some common origin or shared characteristic with another person or group, or with an idea" (Hall, 1996:2). Thus, both cultural identity and personal identity are formed through experiences of, and identification with, certain events, rituals, social institutions and symbols of culture(s) in which an individual was raised and lives. Intuitively speaking then, cultural environment, or cultural space (this is the term that I have chosen to use throughout this work) is of utmost importance to personal, collective and cultural identity construction.

It is important at this point to distinguish between personal, or self-identity and cultural identity. Personal identity, as the term implies, is unique to the individual. Everyone has a subjective experience of life and forms different patterns of thoughts and behavior. A person's cultural identity is part of her or his individual, personal identity. Cultural identity has always been closely tied to collective temporal epistemologies. Cultural identities are collective identities in many ways, although each individual constructs different understandings of her or his cultural identity.

Cultural identity is made up of shared histories, cultural meanings and patterns of behavior that express who and what a cultural/social group is and what they have been through and value. Individuals and families within the group protect, embellish and often embody aspects of the collective cultural identity. Gender roles, prejudices, religious practices and civic rituals are often imbedded within cultural identity. It is easy to see then how personal identity and cultural identity can come into great conflict within an individual. An example of this, is that in many societies today some women and men personally identify with concepts and practices of equity and flexible gender roles, whereas their cultures in general continue to proscribe non-egalitarian gender roles within collective cultural identities. Sources of cultural and social power can be seen as seeking to enforce or encourage certain cultural identifications.

In the transition from traditional (tribal) societies to those existing within modernity, the lived histories of human kind has seen many changes in the nature of cultural space. For the traditional, the space in which a society and culture functioned was wed to a single social place. Though some groups were nomadic, societies remained cohesive, whole. There was often only one distinct culture with which members of that society could identify and through which they could understand themselves and their roles in the society. Even in these times, it seems intuitive that the politics of "Who am I?" were/can be processes of give and take within the (sometimes more, sometimes less) constraining limitations within a society.

A male hunter (for example) or a female midwife (for example) Ð both finding themselves within social roles dictated by gender (and most likely mediated by other actors as well, such as family rank) might have sought opportunities to excel within these roles, gaining reinforced identity through achievements and praise. Customs, belief systems, and social institutions are parts of both traditional and modern society's ideological apparatuses. Ideological apparatuses are the communication technologies, practices and most importantly institutions (social, religious, political) by which the cultures and ideologies of a society interact with its members. This interaction can either be direct (i.e. when an individual or group experiences a ritual song, or television program) or indirect (i.e. when an individual or group interacts with other members of their society who are indoctrinated into its cultural systems). Within the politics of "Who am I?" both direct (film, television, religious ceremony) and indirect influences (parents and friends) affect cultural identity.

The central problem that modernity has created for the construction of cultural identity is the fragmentation and colonization of cultural spaces that used to be distinct to one people, one society. "Modernity signifies the destruction of past forms of life, values and identities, combined with the production of new ones" (Kellner, 1992: 142). Arising out of the development of militaristic nation-states in Western Europe, capitalism and colonialism have been the principal engines facilitating this process. The advancement of communication and transportation technologies were essential for allowing (1) the colonization of many traditional societies and cultures and (2) the globalization of capitalism. These innovations were thus the propagating arms of the ideological apparatuses of modernity. These spatial technologies enabled European conquistadors and capitalists to wage campaigns of indoctrination, profiteering and the genocide against many indigenous peoples and their cultures. This illustrates how within modernity the transformation of cultural spaces has always been caused by power relations. Military, political, social and economic power have all been utilized to privilege one culture over others.

Today, people talk of global languages such as English and Spanish, but rarely consider what this implies for cultural space, cultural identity and cultural power. Less than two-thousand years ago the ancestor of modern English was an obscure Indo-european language in the far north-western corner of the Roman empire. It has become the first language of many of the world's peoples, and the second language of even more people. The history that I am referring to demonstrates that in modernity one of the principal means by which cultural spaces have been transformed is through colonization and war. Now, within late-modernity, the English-language threatens to transform many more cultural spaces through the spatial bias of electronic media, principally through television and film. Those that control the communication technologies also control a vital portion of the cultural system. Many parts of the modern world are filled with cultural products which were created within another society according to experiences and meanings indigenous to other cultures. Cultural/communication policies in many countries have attempted to limit the amount of US/foreign entertainment products precisely due to the effects they are thought have on local cultures and cultural identity.

Colonization and immigration are two modern trends which have created a plethora of multicultural societies. Political, economic and social inequities exist in all of these, being based often on histories of class and ethnic privilege/discrimination. Ethnicity is a term which draws much of its significance from the dispersion of cultural and racial groups in modern times. It is used to categorize people by race and national/regional origin. Ethnicity has also come to play a greater role in the politics of difference and cultural identity. The mechanics of this are indeed quite fascinating. To begin with, ethnicity is often dictated by the dominant discourses present in a place of origin. Nationality, for example, is assertive in this way among most modern cultures. Nationality has always struggled with smaller regional ethnicities for loyalty and for recognition within the cultural identities of individuals and groups. While governments have utilized the power of the electronic media to bolster national identity, local ethnicities are reinforced by community cultural heritage like the passing-on of customs and heirlooms from parents to children.

Feelings of ethnicity and cultural identity have also been affected by race relations. Many marginalized groups have for a long while been continuously afflicted by the politics of race: the politics of slavery, of institutional racism, of war, discrimination and hate crimes (to name a few). Ethnic groups who have suffered under such racial politics have in many instances built political and social movements to defeat such atrocities. The Zapatistas in Mexico are an example. As the Zapatista and other indigenous people's movements illustrate, cultural preservation can be an important project within the political goals and motivations of marginalized ethnic groups. The Zapatistas are also an example of how ethnicity is an important sight for the construction of resistance identities for marginalized groups in multicultural societies.

The politics of "Who am I?" will always involve a mediation between the individual and the many groups that have a stake in his or her cultural identity. Family and relatives often seek preservation of cultural heritage and values. Community and religious leaders usually have this interest as well. The state seeks the assimilation of aspects of a national identity which entails the state's version of patriotism, duty, citizenship, etc... The media, advertisers and other capitalists hope that individuals accept their versions of reality, desired lifestyles and patterns of consumption. Through these influences, cultural power is used to encourage certain cultural and personal identities. Yet, all cultures include ways of knowing and being which are valuable to individuals and groups that are part of these different cultures, and also have much to offer peoples of other cultures.

What is cultural space, and how is it affected by the dominant capitalist audiovisual industries?

Social geographer Ed Soja posits that late-modernity's "current crisis is accentuating spatiality and revealing more clearly than ever before, the spatial and locational strategies of capitalist accumulation and the necessity for labor and all segments of society "peripheralized" by capitalist development and restructuring to create spatially conscious counterstrategies at all geographical scales, in all territorial locales" (Soja, 1989).

As Soja suggests, the components of dominate cultures/societies which legitimizing identities emerge from, and which resistance identities react against, are the architectural product of the capitalist political-economy. Capital accumulation is the motivation behind the cultural industries7 whether these interests draw from the mainstream dominate US society to sell new cultural products or, if the symbols and information are selected from various Mexican realities for the purpose of massing the largest possible audience to sell. Thus, within the totality of the possible frameworks for commercial (i.e. capitalist) cultural industries, the primary task is creating consumers out of audiences.

The primary result is the colonization of cultural space Ð the places and mediums through which people experience and interpret social symbols, and where they start to build their legitimizing or resistance identities. In the same way that civilizations have historically incorporated frontier spaces into their boundaries (determining the design and function of those spaces by the needs of the center society) so too corporate interests incorporate new cultural consumption spaces as new communication and information technologies emerge.

The car, the bedroom, the private or company office, the home, and other public, private and "family" spaces as well have been exploited as places where modern individuals consume entertainment/information products through radio, television, video and new technologies, such as the World Wide Web. These spaces are literally created by big business which invests in design research towards new technologies, as opposed to traditional spaces such as face-to-face communication, belief systems, traditional music and artwork, etc.. that may be colonized by corporate-driven cultural products, or by the influences of other social institutions. Certainly, media consumers do negotiate benefits from such colonized spaces, but the question is: do these positive uses outweigh the negative consequences of allowing corporate interests to wield such pervasive power in cultural and communication arenas?

Canadian communication scholar Jody Berland notes that the dominate US influence in the production of cultural products within the digital domain (film, television drama, CDs, computer-mediated communication technologies, etc..) is due to the vast US entertainment and military industrial complex that invents and produces many communication technologies first and is thus able to produce large amounts of cultural products within these mediums at the highest technological levels. Only countries with large domestic markets, advanced production capabilities (such as Mexico), or effective protective cultural policies can hope to meet national demands for "high(tech)-quality" entertainment products. Multinational corporations are thus more likely than not to colonize English-language (and other) international/foreign audiovisual (and other entertainment) spaces with US cultural products and Latin (Spanish-language) audiovisual spaces with Mexican cultural products. Dallas Smythe proposes that the role of the mass media in sustaining hegemonic structures maintained by big business: to produce people in audiences who work at learning the theory and practice of consumership for civilian goods,...and to produce audiences whose theory and practice confirms the ideology of monopoly capitalism (possessive individualism and authoritarian political systems)(Smythe, 1981:123).

Berland supplements this thesis, suggesting that, "Media and information technologies and the entire material, spatial, and social organization of knowledge are part of (and in fact, central to ) the "means of production" whereby natural space is produced as productive space, as part of the hierarchically organized social space of contemporary capitalism" (Berland, 1997:62). As these authors have observed, the cultural goods produced by capitalism are created according to the logic and world-view of the dominant society, and particularly those groups that have the most money to spend. The lucrative pornography markets found in every audiovisual industry are examples of the engendered biases of socio-economic inequities that are replicated in the colonization of transnational cultural domains.

Michael Foucault observed that it is vital to not see technologies themselves as facilitating marginalization, but rather to understand these processes within the scope of practices - the practices of using technologies in certain ways that affect spatial organization and function. When the space in question is that of cultural space, where individuals and groups experience cultural products/symbols (such as music, artwork or television programs) personal and group experiences and mediations of cultural products are affected by the practices of production and dissemination of those products which are experienced within social space.

Whereas products produced by the transnational entertainment/information industry seek to promote the universal value of depolitisized entertainment, mass consumption and stereotypical mainstream values, as articulated by Dallas Smythe, alternative, activist or indigenous cultural products can potentially have unique practices of production that serve heterogeneous, diverse goals and intended meanings. When these types of alternative communications are disseminated through contemporary communications mediums, they are able to project their products into the cultural spaces of human experience. This amounts to (1) resistance of the colonization of cultural space by products pushed by transitional capitalism, and (2) the possible emergence of project identities at the individual and group levels. Analyzing some of these cultural communication strategies and projects facilitated by US Latinos using the Internet has been an integral part of my thesis work.

The postmodern global political-economy suggests that the politics of capitalism is increasingly dominant in dictating or perhaps facilitating the myths of social and political discourse. One of the primary features of the neoliberal political-economic order is the role of national governments in working to create deregulated climates in which transnational corporations can further their influence over global economic and cultural flows. This cooperation of forces, as Berland notes, has worked to globalize the US First Amendment, extending freedom of speech to mean the freedom of corporations to colonize any cultural space with depolitisized entertainment/cultural products. The recent Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the US is a prime example:

The acquisition of "personal rights" by corporations new exceeds beyond the growth of "corporate speech" and First Amendment rights in the US, and is for the first time consolidated in international law. The US government succeeded in extending the exclusive right of corporations to organize, process, store, retrieve, and disseminate information, currently entrenched in corporate economic structures, to an internationally ratified, legally guaranteed right of corporations to override government policies and political rights (Berland, 1992:49).

Thus, the use of media technologies in the dissemination of cultural products has been disassociated from the political, cultural and social implications of this process. While some countries such as Australia, France, Germany, as well as some Scandinavian and African countries have policies regulating the percentage of foreign entertainment products that are to be disseminated within domestic consumption markets, the depoliticized nature of media communications are not solely descriptive of US, or "foreign" products. The multinationals of Latin American (Televisa, Globo, Venevision) as well as national media in general for the most part facilitate colonization within the often apolitical standard of both modernity and postmodernity. In most democracies, alternative, critical domestic media do exist and are vital for challenging social, political and economic injustices. Generally, these can be considered as important alternatives to national and global hegemonic communication apparatuses, although in real life categorizing many institutions within either side of a spectrum is difficult.

Ultimately, the colonization of cultural space and media communications in general facilitates the continued dominance of current privileged hegemonies and continued marginalizations when media/cultural products within this context fail: (1) to articulate and recognize the realities and persuasiveness of social injustice and multiculturalism, (2) to offer opportunities for marginalized groups to voice their concerns and demands so that national, regional, and international populations and politicians must reckon with these demands, (3) to delineate the uneven distributions of power that perpetrate poverty and social injustice, and (4) to offer media space for marginalized groups to express their ideas and cultures. The majority of cultural products disseminated globally through communications networks by the powers of international capitalism fail on all four counts.

Where NWICO initiatives and media criticisms have failed or been frustrated in ameliorating capitalist manipulation of communication technologies, the discovery of the active audience Ð the acknowledgment of popular voices and skills that were ignored by the dominate communication discourses Ð emerged as a psychoactive force that had always occupied the reality of media users but which now occupied the imagination of academics as well. New networked communication technologies such as those utilized on the Internet allow even more diverse participation in the cultural realm. Cultural meanings, imaginations and identities negotiated from mass communicated texts (produced and disseminated mainly through the logic and channels of the corporate media) can now be published into a more democratic, global, networked market place of ideas.

Who are US Latinos, and how might their identities be affected by colonization of their cultural spaces?

In the US, the primary audiovisual cultural spaces that Latinos are likely to encounter and use are colonized by (1) the dominate English-language networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, etc..), and (2) the dominate Spanish-language entertainment/information networks (Univision and Telemundo). Given that Latinos in the US are minority and marginalized groups, we can hypothesize according to Castells' typology, that, for most US Latinos, identity construction is likely to be along the lines of resistance identity and for some project identity. These forms of identity construction are furthermore likely to involve both resistance too and selective positive uses of (1) mainstream English-language audiovisual spaces (which facilitate the process of acculturation into the dominate culture/society), and (2) mainstream Spanish-language audiovisual spaces that may facilitate Latinoization: the acculturation into a more broadly defined US Latino culture as opposed to more narrow national and ethnic Latinos groups/cultures.

For some US Latinos, particularly for newly arrived groups, both of these dominant cultural industries, however, can and often do facilitate positive uses in terms of (1) negotiated and oppositional readings that reinforce cultural identities within the epistemologies of individuals and groups (i.e. cultural maintenance), and (2) selective and often conscious cultivation of various cultural competencies, such as learning English and learning about US political, economic and social systems. From here it will be useful to explore how use of English- and Spanish-language television can facilitate acculturation and at some points enculturation for US Latinos.

Acculturation can be defined as the assimilation of an alien culture. Enculturation can be defined as the learning of one's own natural culture. Obviously both are processes that affect cultural identity. English-language television can be seen clearly as a cultural space that facilitates acculturation, at least for those US Latinos who are new residents of this country. Both acculturation and enculturation probably result from these recent arrivals use Spanish-language television. Enculturation occurs as cultural maintenance Ð when symbols, practices, and other information from a home country or cultural region exist within television texts. Acculturation through Spanish-language television use might occur as Latinoization. Two questions to be dealt with in this inquiry, are (1) whether acculturation greatly influences the cultural identity of new Latino groups in the US, and (2) if Spanish language television and Internet use by US Latinos influences their cultural identities.

Latinoization can be seen as a form of acculturation because if there is such a thing as a pan-Latino culture in the US, then that culture is in some ways alien to the cultures from which immigrants have come Ð from the various Latin American countries and the many distinct ethnic/cultural groups that live within them. In general, utilizing these terms (acculturation and enculturation) when discussing a multicultural society is difficult and in some ways problematic. When talking about Chicanos and Cuban-Americans who have lived in the US for many generations we see peoples whose cultures are both "American" but also Cuban and Mexican. This underscores that fact that all cultures that can be said to exist within modernity, are hybrids Ð containing symbols, customs and ways of knowing that have been borrowed from other cultures. Cultures continuously mix, merge and engulf one another, and cultural identities will always be changing with the cultural spaces that they draw from. This is not in-of-itself a bad thing. Indeed, multiculturalism as a political and social project can involve peoples from different cultures within a society working together to recognize and respect these plural and heterogeneous realities. Multicultural projects must push for equitable representation and participation of marginalized cultures within mediated spaces if desired cultural identities are to find the resources that they seek.

The process of Latinoization (as well as a more general Americanization, i.e. acculturation) may occur over time for most, if not all Latinos who live in the US for a prolonged period of time. Levels of acculturation and cultural competencies facilitate different types and/or variations in social uses (of groups) and gratifications (for individuals) of cultural resources such as media. Understanding of various cultural symbols and systems, and the development of social, emotional and manual skills related to a society/culture is what scholars mean by "cultural competencies."

Bi-lingualism and familiarity with the dominate culture are important factors/stratifications that influence how and why Latinos use Spanish-language and English-language television and what they can get out of their use. The role of the dominant commercial/English-language, US media in the acculturation of immigrant and multicultural groups have been researched,8 although analysis of the use of Spanish-language television and other mediums for both acculturation and cultural maintenance are not as prevalent (Johnson, 1996). Very little, if any, research has been done on US Latino uses of the Internet, although it seems likely that most US Latinos who do use the Internet on a regular basis are fully bi-cultural.

It is important to note at this point that any process of (1) Latinoization, (2) cultural uses of Spanish-language television, and (3) identity construction in general, is likely to vary greatly between (a) US born and established communities of Latinos (such as Chicanos in the US Southwest) and (b) recent immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Castells' identity construction typology might classify both groups as likely to create resistance identities, which, as mentioned before, vary within and between groups. Processes of hybridization and uses of Spanish-language television for cultural maintenance (discussed below) have been seen as occurring within those groups who have only recently arrived from the South. I expect to find in my Internet research that individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds do communicate via the Internet for cultural purposes, albeit though with different social uses and practices being fulfilled. Latinoization implies a process of acculturation that can be discussed within the problematic of the "American melting pot." As an often marginalized, minority groups, US Latinos are (as this term implies) categorized and defined within the lump-sum of ÒLatinosÓ or "Hispanics." Specificities such as ethnic/state nationalities are not as relevant to the dominate society/culture as broader categorizations. Cuban-American, Japanese-American, Haitian-American, Polish-American, etc....become Latino, Asian, Black, White, when the former's stereotyped ethnic characteristics correspond to the latter's enculturated racial types.

There are many motivations behind the production of Spanish-language television as a vital component of Latinoization, namely the creation of a US Latino market which facilitates a more homologous Latino community/identity distinct from and often eroding more specific national and ethnic identities and cultures. Yet although such forces can clearly be identified as treating Latinos as a cohesive ethnic/cultural group, there is a vital question taken up by Suzanne Oboler as to whether Latinoization (my term not hers) is much more of an imagined process mythisized by US scholars, political actors, journalists and entertainment media (Oboler). Oboler posits that the social value of the term Hispanic, "must be found through exploring the specific context of US society that fostered the emergence of this ethic label as an ideological construct Ð a label that is thus specific to the political and daily life of this nation, to its past ideological self-image and identity as a "melting pot" of immigrants, and to its current redefinition as an "ethnic mosaic"," (Oboler:18).

While news from Latin American countries are a component of Univision and Telemundo's programming, these corporations work to produce a cohesive US Latino audience, thus possibly furthering a process of Latinoization and helping to create a unified Latino culture/community. Mainstream Spanish-language television may respond to some of the dynamics of US Latinos Ð certainly far more than most English-language programs. Yet, content produced for national groups such as Cuban-Americans, and Puerto Ricans are limited, except perhaps where those groups make up sizable proportions of the audience.

The internal politics since the birth of Univision attests to the real and heated contestation (for cultural resources) between the most powerful/numerous Latino groups, Cuban- and Mexican-Americans. For the most part, Telemundo and Univision, as well as a majority of print and large scale music distributors of Latino cultural products, appeal to and target the broader US Latino market. Although some Spanish-language programs might focus on the perceived concerns of one group such as Cuban-Americans, the overall "grammar of production through which the media universalize a style of life" (Martin-Barbero, 1993a:142) is that of the lowest possible cultural denominator, the hodge-podge of US Latinos.

Thus again, both theoretical and real life contradictions clearly arise between active audiences' selective uses and the fact that various media uses and text production occur within broader power relations. The construction of resistance identities for some Latinos who seek to preserve national (often Latin American) and other cultural heritages thus may involve resistances to the process of Latinoization facilitated by Spanish-language television. News about a home country are distinguished and more cherished than news from other Latin American regions. Oboler maintains that difference among Latino cultural groups and difference to other minorities and the dominant culture are accentuated in the cultural/social mosaic within the US and further the resistance identities situated within the unique cultural origins and values of each group, which are grounded and given context against the various "others." Thus within any acculturation hypothesis, the active, selective nature of individual uses and gratifications, and social uses, must not be ignored. Many US Latinos appropriate Spanish-language messages in different ways for cultural maintenance and do find and or create positive cultural resources from these communication channels (Rios and Gains, 1997).


Media-transmitted ideology in any political-economic-cultural context is represented partly in language and articulated and interpreted through language and other highly elaborated codes and modes - including visual forms and music - which are further interpreted and used by people in routine social interaction (Morley and Robins, 1995:47).

The transnationalization of culture brought about by communication technologies, their reach, and their efficiently are better appreciated as part of the recomposition of urban cultures, along with the migrations and tourism that soften national borders and redefine the concepts of nation, people, and identity (Garcia-Canclini, 1995:10).

The creation of new social and political-economic geographies necessitates (as Canclini suggests above) new strategies of community self-conceptualization and identity. So far I have has worked to problematize the power of commercial communication as the most powerful authority in late-modernity to affect cultural identity. All notions of set reality and identity, created through combinations of hegemonic and active selective processes, are ultimately imagined yet cohesive entities. Locally positioned and negotiated imaginations, however, offer the most specific differentiations to other sources of cultural power, by being situated in authentic collective experiences and cultural projects for the enrichment of communal understandings and identity. "Authenticity here does not imply a privileged space of truth that is bounded by the inauthentic. Rather, it refers to the specific pleasures of familiarity, to the capacity of cultural forms to connect with and express vicissitudes of everyday life" (Hawkins, 1993:27).

This view posits the local as a logical sight for the cultivation of cultural products and meanings. It is at the local site of reception where television texts (for example) are shifted through individual and where group epistemologies and meanings/interpretations are produced. Within many communities today, however, most of the technologies of social and political communication and cultural expression are owned and utilized by private capitalists interests, as this proposal has discussed. Therefore, as mentioned above, one of the major tasks of my thesis has been to discuss the beneficial uses of these texts, such as with television, and the breadth of options and potential for expression and empowerment through Internet use.

In summary/conclusion, a main goal of my thesis has been to study the nature of Spanish-language television and Internet technologies, how they interact with the active mediations of Latino audiences and how this plays out to influence US Latino cultural identities. Participatory communication (Ria­o, 1994; Vargas, 1995; Goulet, 1979) and empowerment scholars (Scherwin, 1987; Rappaport, 1995) have posited that groups and individuals that have taken active roles in social communication in their communities are participating in empowerment processes at various levels. This in turn can imply the emergence of collective 'project identities' that serve to assert the legitimacy and actualization of Latino communities' cultural and civil rights, in resistance to their marginalization within the dominate US culture and society.

To summarize, the following portions of this thesis will explore and expand on the following assumptions, some of which have discussed to a limited extent already:
(1) US Latinos' use of dominate audiovisual spaces vary by ethnic subgroup, national, familial, economic, gender and other ties.
(2) While the use of Spanish-language television for cultural maintenance and cultural identity construction involve selectively produced benefits, the hegemonic political-economy of audiovisual text production do have some effects, both selectively mediated and otherwise, that encourage social, political and ideological acculturation towards legitimizing identity and Latinoization.
(3) Experienced inequalities and perceived differences from other Latino groups and other members of society, however, facilitate the development of resistance identity. Selective media use, use of alternative resources and creation of more meaningful cultural products are active strategies of resistance.[9]
(4) Some US Latinos have begun to use the Internet for cultural production and cultural identity construction. I hypothesize that analysis of these cases will reveal expressions of collective resistance identity and cultural differentiation that are offered to Latino groups as new resources for information and cultural and identity maintenance and other uses. Those Internet initiatives that engage in participatory community communication, and, or create texts that are critical of macro- and micro socio-economic and political problems can facilitate the emergence of project identity and other types of empowerment. Indeed, it seems likely that increased access to resources and cultural production are themselves processes of project identity.

III. Television

The goal of this chapter is to discuss and explore the cultural significance of television use. To begin with, several literatures concerned with the effects, social roles and audience uses of television will be reviewed. The later half of the chapter will seek to contextualize the possible cultural uses of Spanish-language television by some US Latino groups within an exploration of this transnational cultural industry. The main question to be considered is how television might be used in cultural identity maintenance, and more specifically the role of Spanish-language television use in the cultural identity maintenance of some US Latinos. Manual Castells' theories will also be revisited in an exploration of how television texts may be used in the collective and cultural identity construction of different groups. Several ideas, or hypotheses, are discussed. The first is that dominant television channels, in general, are more important to the construction of legitimizing identity and mainstream cultural identity for members of the dominant society. Cultural identity for members of marginalized groups are part of collective resistance identities, where cultural identity is learned within specialized and protected social spaces. Thus, the second hypothesis is that the accessibility, availability and level of cultural specialization of cultural spaces will affect how and why certain spaces such as Spanish-language television or the Internet are used for cultural identity maintenance. These concepts of cultural uses of television and how these cultural uses interact with collective and cultural identities (which have been developed in this chapter and previous chapters) are used in chapters Five and Six (along with the results of the pilot survey) to discuss the cultural uses of Internet information and communication technologies.

There has been a wide range of scholarship conducted in the last few decades that has sought to better understand how media, especially television, affect people and culture. On one extreme, for example, some socialist feminist researchers posit that television and film have almost autonomous power to transform culture, which thus implies great influences on cultural identities. At another extreme, the school of effects research has found it difficult to prove that television exposure has consistent effects on behavior, such as violent behavior in children. Both of these research traditions have been criticized as having limitations and can to a certain extent be seen as suffering from academic tunnel-vision. While in some ways feminist media studies are often obsessed with looking to the text for all the answers, effects researchers who utilize only research methods from behavior sciences are forced to greatly limit their consideration of multiple sources of causation.

Cultural identity and engendered behavior will never be easily studied or tested. Before electronic media, there was a multiplicity of cultural and social environments in which individuals and groups learned roles and identified with cultural events and meanings. For most people the text was the event, the experience, the weekly or annual ritual. For some there were letters, books and, later, magazines. Today, in most societies, electronic media provide cultural spaces that have only been available for a short while (at least in comparison to the history of human societies). Certainly people build personal identity, understandings of cultural identity, and behavior patterns based on culture consumed thorough television, film and electronic music, but interactions with family, peers and other social situations are equally, if not more important to the development of identity.

Culture is endlessly recycled and reconstituted. Texts and ideologies produced in the media, in homes, in the street and in various social institutions are decoded by individuals and groups who carry those meanings with them Ð sometimes embodying them in behavior, sometimes in personal ideologies and identities, and sometimes they create new texts that are influenced by those consumed earlier. Cultural processes are cyclical. Understandings of both the political economy and practices of text production and the motivations and results of reception are vital. Too often they are studied in isolation without much respect for the whole.

If television is only one site, one cultural space in which identity is constructed, why does it receive so much attention from academia? To answer this question you must look at the spatially biased nature of television production. Whereas, until recently cultural products were produced and consumed within local communities, electronic media, like television, are produced in the local, but broadcast and consumed in national and global markets. Though sexist and violent attitudes of parents are likely to be reproduced by their children, the potential efficacy of these attitudes distributed within television texts are much more great. Due to the accessibility that television as a medium enjoys to private homes, broadcasters are viewed as having responsibility to police content for the protection of children and community standards. Certainly it can be argued that the FCC has catered more to the interests of the networks than to community or multicultural interests. The limitations that are followed have not hindered the networks from distributing texts that distort reality in attempts to attract certain audiences. Not only have scholars sought to demonstrate this distortion through quantitative content analysis and qualitative textual analysis, but many have also advocated the production of more realistic and positive representations.

In the US, television has come to be a dominant cultural space, taking up a disproportionate amount of time over other social and cultural spaces. Douglas Kellner sees television as functioning as a modern conveyer of cultural myths and mythologies. He sees the myths of society as being the bearers of social ideology regardless of the medium of distribution. Kellner distinguishes between televisions role as a conveyor of (1) myths, and (2) mythologies (Kellner, 1992). Myths work to articulate and resolve social contradictions within society. Levi-Strauss theorized that since myths can not totally resolve the real contradictions in social reality, new mythical themes are constantly arising. Many of today's myths, told through television shows and genres, idealize youth, hippness, blackness, sexuality and new roles for womanhood (albeit in often stereotypical ways) while social hierarchies, traditional families and relationships, perceived middle class values and cultural authorities are preserved. These myths are attempting to reconcile the strands of modern collective cultural identities with new generational and group identities and values. Mythologies on the other hand do not deal with social contradictions. Mythologies function to glorify and naturalize the dominant social order. They are ahistorical idealizations which cover up contradictions within society (Kellner, 1992).

Seeing television as an important medium for social myth and mythology helps to illustrate its significance as a cultural space. Where song and dance and later theater were principal mediums for coveying myths, now film, electronic music and television are dominant. Raymond Williams termed this shift, "mobile privatization" : the process of the privatization of the domestic sphere and the development of advanced communication and transportation technologies which works to allow experiences and consumption of public information and culture within the isolated, private home (Williams, 1992). Williams considered the real power of television as located in its ability to offer a vast "visual mobility" to audiences. Despite whatever constraining social, political or economic confines people have to deal with in their daily lives, television provides vicarious experiences of fantasy lands, wealthy lifestyles, and exotic cultures, as well as national and regional information.

Since the 1970s, several critics have argued that, as modern carriers of social myths and mythologies, the principal effect of the media is to construct or frame viewer's perceptions of social reality. One of these critics, Herbert Schiller, posits that "America's media managers create, refine, and preside over the circulation of images and information which determine our beliefs and attitudes and, ultimately, our behavior..." (Schiller, 1996: 172). Schiller maintains that there are five myths that structure news media content in the US: (1) the myth of individualism and personal choice, (2) the myth of neutrality of social and political institutions, (3) the myth of unchanging human nature (competitive, greedy, violent, etc..), (4) the myth of the absence of social conflict, and (5) the myth of modern pluralism (that a diversity of viewpoints and information channels are accessible to all (Schiller, 1996). As people are exposed to media texts, they come to accept these myths, and other more specific framings of reality, as the way things really are. Other scholars have shown that this is what happens when consumers produce dominant readings/interpretations of media texts.10 Legitimizing identity, and mainstream cultural identities can be seen as being facilitated in this way. For some (particularly marginalized) groups, however, the culture and reality presented in the mainstream media are too alien and not representative of local realities.

The work of Schiller and other media critics have been influential in guiding mass communication research of what came to be known as the "cultivation hypothesis," which basically states that media exposure affects the construction of social reality. Yet researchers attempting to test the cultivation hypothesis found it very difficult to operationalize the variables involved (Stilling, 1997). Operationalizations of the cultivation effect have ranged from (1) socialization (i.e. enculturation), (2) fear of victimization, and (3) the "mainstream effect" (Stilling, 1997). This last definition of cultivation, the mainstream effect, posits that media use causes cultural homogeneity Ð common self-identification with socio-economic groups or political philosophies. Despite attempts to prove that television per se has certain cultivation effects, the most useful studies have tried to understand the particular roles that television and other media have played in the enculturation and acculturation of particular groups. Processes of enculturation (the learning of cultural meanings and patterns of one's own cultural group) and acculturation (the learning of new, alien cultural meanings) are multifaceted and dynamic. In a recent study, Eric Stilling, posits that use of television programs available in a host-country is one possible source of acculturation for immigrant groups. Stilling writes that, "On a conceptual level, the electronic melting pot hypothesis asserts that immigrants who view a large quantity of host-community television programming acculturate more quickly than those who view a lesser quantity of host community programming" (Stilling:81). To support this hypothesis, Stilling surveyed Latinos who have been living in the US for different periods of time.

One question this research suggests concerns how acculturation affects the cultural identity of immigrant groups. For example, does the acculturation of newly arrived Latinos into the US Latino culture influence the unique cultural identities of these new arrivals? Are those groups who watch more Spanish-language television likely to cultivate cultural identities similar to other US Latinos? In other words, does Spanish-language television use help to facilitate Latinoization to the point of affecting cultural identity? As discussed earlier, Suzanne Oboler maintains that difference among Latino cultural groups and difference to other minorities and the dominant culture are accentuated in the cultural/social mosaic within the US and further the resistance identities situated within the unique cultural origins and values of each group, which are grounded and given context against these various "others." Yet we must remember that resistance identity, as Castells theorizes, is constructed on collective group identity that is accentuated against the mainstream, dominant culture/society. Watching US English-language television can certainly inform US Latinos, or anyone else, about the dominant US culture. Individual Latinos can identify with aspects of this mainstream culture experienced on TV and in other social and cultural spaces. The concept of difference posits, however, that experiences of other cultures helps to established aesthetic and semantic boundaries between "my" culture, or "our" culture, and other cultures. For Castells, "Latino" is a site of resistance from the dominant Ð a site where collective identity is constructed. From this view, Spanish-language television can be seen as helping to solidify US Latino identities (Latinoization) since it is a distinct Latino cultural space. Yet, cultural identity is a collective identity in many ways, and individual's personal identity can be engaged with several different collective group identities. Groups that can foster a collective identity include families (extended and nuclear), clubs, communities, generations, social movements and cultural or ethnic groups. Thus a person can identify with a collective US Latino identity, while her or his cultural identity could draw from US Latino culture(s) and other specialized cultural/social spaces as well.

Although these questions can never be answered definitively, one arena of research that can be utilized to supply some answers is reception studies. Students of receptions studies have sought to understand the wide variety of cultural, social and popular uses of media. David Morley, for example, who has been particularly influential in reception research, has studied the significance of the social context of media consumption. He notes that in the past questions of media interpretation have been investigated by literary scholars while questions of uses and gratifications of media were addressed by scholars in "leisure studies" (Morley). In Family Television (1986), Morley seeks to "consider the problems of audience decoding/choice in the context of family leisure," i.e. in the context of domestic, social consumption (Morley:1). Through a nation-wide study of family television viewing, Morley sought to better understand how family structures, cultural backgrounds and individual motivations influence which programs are viewed, why these programs are viewed, and the various interpretations that are derived from viewing.

For a large portion of the US population domestic media consumption is integrated into the daily lives of families. At times the television provides important information to be used that day, such as the weather forecast and traffic reports. At other times the television provides a kind of companionship while other tasks are performed. The networks structure their programming to provide for different perceived needs and the changing demographics of the perceived television audience over the course of the day and the week. And yet while these text are designed to provoke desired decodings, there is often a social context to the viewing experience. The presence, interaction and attitudes of family members, friends or colleagues inevitably influences the meaning that individuals derive from consumption. Morely writes that, in the past, "television was seen to have direct effects on viewers. Things got a little better when people thought in terms of mediation Ð where, rather than television having direct effects on people, television's effects were seen to be mediated by the family Ð so that, in effect, the family structure was taken to be a complex of intervening variables, which acted as a filter between the individual and the screen" (Morley, 1991:23). The mediation of decoding obviously varies according to the beliefs, attitudes and behavior of the individuals in an environment where media is consumed.

Motivation for viewing is also important to how a text is interpreted. When a group chooses to watch a program there is almost always some sort of cultural significant driving these choices. As Raymond Williams observed, the television offers us experiences of "our" culture or "other" cultures. The situations depicted are often not available for the real life experiences of viewers. People thus participate in many cultural events through television.

The drama of the ER, the high speed chase, the million dollar estate, and professional and college sports, are examples. People identify with different experiences offered on television and integrate these into fantasies and personal identity. My point here is that television texts are created within and with cultural products and meanings. By showing us cultural events, whether authentic or fabricated through high-tech sets and actors, television producers and advertisers rely on aspects of culture to provoke desired decodings from media consumers. For aspects of media texts to be used within personal and cultural identity construction, mediations must take place to reinforce particularly strong identifications or recognitions. The desire of a young boy who wants to be a professional basketball player does not come solely from watching these athletes on TV, but through interaction with peers and older children with the same dream. Feelings of nationalism felt during a media event, are similarly not inherent, but are rather taught, learned and reinforced through multiple socializations Ð some electronic, others not, but all mediated.

The notion of mediation has been studied within inquiries seeking better understandings of "social uses" of media. Morley's family television viewing research is an example. Social uses imply how groups Òhelp themselves to what media offers" (Munoz, 1994:94). In discussing the complex interaction of Colombian women with telenovelas, Sonia Mu­oz posits that "any text, regardless of its process of production (industrial or artistanal) or its form of production (cultivated or mass) takes form only when it is read" (Munoz:90).

The medium, the act of communication, is not just about the technology but how the text is made into a meaning by and for the reader. As Jesus Martin-Barbero observes, researchers must look to media genres to understand how these relate to specific audiences that develop cultural, symbolic competencies through their interactions with individual genres such as telenovelas or Spanish-language nightly news. Mu­oz shows that these mediations of meaning and uses occur very intimately for the individual, but group level negotiations can also be vibrant. Thus, the concept of social uses points out that a certain viewing or household group can have collective motivations and uses of media. Re-creating narratives and meanings are the norm Ð in some cases, through mediation of meaning and collective motivations for consumption. Viewing television as a means for accessing symbols and information that helps to sustain and construct cultural identity is likely to be, in many instances, a process of social uses. This might be especially true in the home where one of the goals of "family viewing" is to help children cultivate strong identifications with specific cultural events and information.

This process of re-creation (and mediation and negotiation) is not just a way of making meaning and use of external texts. The traditions and cultures of these active individuals and groups are also being re-negotiated and re-created. This process has been termed by several scholars as hybridization Ð the breakup and mixing of cultural systems, the delocalization of the symbolic process and the expansion of new and adapted genres (Garcia-Canclini, 1995:207). Hybridization can be particularly understood in relation to those Latino groups who can be considered as part of a Latin American Diaspora. This is not to suggest that older, more nationally established Chicano and Puerto Rican communities (for example) are culturally stagnant. Indeed, all societies are in some ways multicultural and these intermingled cultures are constantly influencing each other at the level of individual actor's evolving epistemologies and acts of cultural production. However, newly arrived or settling-down immigrants are forced to deal with new symbolic and behavior systems. A research team at Victoria University (Australia) offered this further explanation of Diasporas and hybridization:

Diasporic culture is this the product of the constantly configuring, never-ending and complex process which occurs when immigrant or otherwise displaced cultures selectively adapt to host cultures, intermixing and evolving to form a 'new' culture, a culture related to but distinct from both the original and host cultures. This transcultural fusion can be described as 'hybridization' (Sinclair, Pookong, Fox, Yue, 1997).

If cultural identity can ever be influenced by media, it seems that social mediations must play an important, if not vital, role in this. The use of media for cultural maintenance occurs for the most part within patterns of domestic consumption, cultivated through what has been called "the moral economy of the household" (Silverstone, et al., 1994). In the moral economy of the household, commodities are appropriated into the culture and politics of the domestic sphere. Cultural products such as those offered by media in the home, are utilized according to the household's own values and interests. The moral economy of the household unit helps to determine the "degrees of freedom accorded to the consumer (in theory and in practice) to use the products and commodities of late capitalism to define and express his or her own identity, status and membership of a wider group" (Silverstone et al., 1994: 4).

The internal politics and culture of the household affect how and when to household members use media; who gets to use or chose a program; when to buy a new, or another, product; and what kind of meaning household members place during and after consumption. All of these variables are partially affected by the medium in question. Negotiations and mediations concerning television use can be very different than home computer and Internet use. Some mediums may have more cultural significance to the family or household unit, whereas others may be more important to certain individuals. The extent to which a medium is important for a family's cultural identity maintenance depends on that group's cultural and social identification and the content of available media. Yet the moral economy of the household should not be seen as separate from external systems. The dynamics of the home are affected by political, economic and social factors. As discusses above, the social position of a group helps to drive both its media choices and the nature of collective identity formation.

The way individuals within a household use media certainly distinguish personal identity. Teenagers are often infamous (as far as older generations are usually concerned) for their choice and use of music. After all, specialized knowledge and skills can be very important for (1) inclusion and acceptance in teen peer-groups, (2) maintenance of a particular identity, and (3) a sense of belonging, friendship, etc... Processes of cultural maintenance can involve similar processes, although the motivations and knoweldges involved are likely to be more deeply rooted, especially where cultural identity is involved. Media use by the family as a whole can involve appropriations that reinforce collective family and cultural identity. Indeed an important function of the moral economy of the household can be value creation. Appropriate media texts are used, and mediated to help instill children with values important to the parents and their culture. It is likely that children raised within frameworks of resistance identity will have a better grasp on what their culture or cultural identity is, because their parents and other community members emphasize (both consciously and unconsciously) teaching this to their children.

For marginalized groups, after all, many cultural spaces are dominated by the products of another culture. Personal identity construction involves the recognition that ones social and cultural group are devalued in society. Thus, collective identification is built upon the group's psychological, cultural and social resistance against oppression (both real and immagined). I would venture to guess that a general survey of US peoples would find that a far greater number of members of the dominant society (Caucasian, middle to upper class, Christian, heterosexual) do not have a very cohesive idea of what their cultural identity may be. Castells argues that most members of a dominant society share a collective legitimizing identity that is part of their individual personal identities and is constructed upon the values, culture and social institutions of the dominant society. Collective identification with members of the dominant group and the dominant culture as a whole are not as strong since there are no obstacles or struggles through which such bonds could form. This is not to say that there are not collective group identities to which members of the dominant society are firmly bound. Identification with religious and sub-cultural groups are examples of collective group identities that are important to some members of the dominant society and which can also be partially maintained through the use of television and other media texts.

In summary, television can be used culturally in many different ways. In general, television can be important for both personal identity maintenance and for collective cultural identity. Every time the TV is turned on a new cultural product is being introduced into the household, although it may be used in a wide variety of ways. For many US Latinos, collective knowledge, ways of being and symbols that are important to their cultural identity are found both here and there. Parents, relatives and community members are vital in the process of teaching language, customs, beliefs, values and other pieces of heritage. Other aspects of culture, however, are to be found within one or more Latin American countries, and other parts of the USA. One of the main advantages of global television for dispersed cultural groups is that it can provide a space for aspects of a culture, or a mixture of cultures, to be accessed. Although some US Latinos do not chose to use Spanish-language television, it can provide texts for households to appropriate, decode and mediate in ways that affect personal identities and help with the construction and maintenance of cultural identity.

US Spanish-language television does not provide all of the cultural information that all US Latinos could possibly want. As discusses earlier, there are many diverse groups in the US that can be classified as Latino. Furthermore, there are only two main Spanish-language networks in the USA. The following section will to contextualize the industry which is responsible for encoding/producing the majority of Spanish-language television products available in the USA. This industry is situated within, and is indeed a part of, the political-economy of late-capitalism. Cultural texts that are important to many US Latinos are produced within this environment according to the logic of capitalism and commercial television. This is not to say that the producers and journalists who produce these text do not feel any responsibility to their audiences. Yet, only a limited number of texts are produced, and these must cater to multicultural US Latino groups. The final section in this chapter will discuss research that addresses more specifically US Latinos' use of these texts for cultural maintenance.

US Spanish-language Television

This thesis has worked so far to describe television as a cultural space important to the construction and maintenance of various identities. The US Spanish-language television industry is particularly interesting because it produces a mainstream cultural space although it caters to a marginalized set of groups in the US. In some ways, both English-language and Spanish-language television producers in the US face similar obstacles in that they are creating texts for increasingly multicultural societies that are made up of groups with varying amounts of economic power. The success of Spanish-language television in the USA has come about due to its ability to provide cultural programming to a growing market that the English-language networks have chosen to ignore (i.e. US Latinos).

The Spanish-language market was developed and dominated at first by the Mexican media conglomerate Televisa, whose skill in producing high quality products corresponded with the language and cultural preferences of many US Latinos. In the 1960s, with boosted investment, technological development and success in selling advertisement, TSM (Televisa's predecessor) was able to expand its television assets into the US, beginning with the purchase of San Antonio Channel 41. Starting here, Emilio Azcarraga, the primary owner of TSM, carefully built a US Spanish-language monopoly. To by-pass the FCC law prohibiting "alien" ownership of broadcast facilities, Azcarraga became one of the primary investors in Rene Anselmo's Spanish International Communications Corporation (SICC). Emilio subsequently set up the Spanish International Network (SIN) which purchased and provided programming (mostly TSM products made in Mexico) and arranged advertising for SICC (Subervi-Velez, 1994:336). Mergers, expansions and reorganizations ensued in the later 60s and 70s, which included SIN's control of Televisa station broadcasts across the Mexican-US border to major US cities in the Southwest where a large Mexican-American market was already established. In these early days of Spanish-language television, SIN and the local broadcasters struggled to make a profit, and were continually bankrolled by Azcarraga.11 Unlike Mexico, where the majority of revenues came from government advertising coffers, commercial advertising is basically the sole means of support for the television industries in the US. Thus, SIN and the SICC stations had to work hard to show major US ad agencies that they could attract sizable Latino audiences/consumers.

The year 1976 was a watershed for SIN and its parent organization Televisa in furthering their dominance in US Spanish-language television. In that year, SIN moved ahead of the US English-language networks to became the first company to distribute programming to its broadcasting affiliates directly from satellite. Before this time video-taped programs where shipped to Spanish-language stations affiliated with SIN. By the early 80s, SIN found that paying cable companies to carry these satellite signals was another effective strategy for increasing their exposure to audiences where Spanish-language broadcasts were not available or of poor quality. By 1983, the SIN network reached 3.3 million Spanish-speaking households in the US. Gutierrez and Schement state that at that time 90% of Latinos in the US could receive SIN material on television (Gutierrez and Schement, 1984:249). Furthermore, 1976 also saw Televisa's creation of Univision to provide live, direct Spanish-language programming to word-wide audiences. A main focus of Univision was the US market. By 1977, Univision was broadcasting through urban stations about 20 hours a week of live variety shows, sports and daily late-night newscasts of "24 Horas" from Mexico City (Gutierrez and Schement, 1984). Audience researched showed that about two-thirds of Univision's audience in the 1980s were Mexican-Americans (Rodriguez, 1997).

SIN's major role was importing Televisa's programming to feed to Spanish-language broadcasters, primarily the SICC stations in urban centers in the southwest and also cable companies (Gutierrez and Schement, 1984). In 1979, for example, every 50 of 64 hours of programming distributed by SIN was produced in Televisa's studios in Mexico city. These programs were ultimately created for Mexican audiences. Both SIN and Univision sold advertising in Mexico with the bonus of the ads being shown in the US as part of the deal. By the 1970s, SIN and the SICC stations were turning a sizable profit. Spanish-language television revenues jumped from around $40 million in 1972 to between 60 and 70 million in 1977 and over 160 million by the early 80s (Gutierrez and Schement, 1984:253). SIN's ad revenues for the US market in 1982 were over $35 million (Walker, 1983). This success gave SIN the financial resources needed to upgrade its US news and public affairs programs to focus more on the concerns of US Latinos and the political unity of these communities.

In the 1980s, many US Latinos voiced concerns about the domination of Mexican programming and Mexican employees in the SIN and Univision networks (Gutierrez and Schement, 1984). Latino journalists, for example, have been particularly active in combating Televisa's influence in setting any agenda or Mexican/Televisa model of news gathering and news casting. "Noticiero SIN" SIN's news program worked hard to produce comprehensive newscasts through US modeled journalistic practices, covering Latin America (approx.45% of all stories), US Latino (33%) and more mainstream US issues (Rodriguez, 1997). In 1986 over 35 employees of "Noticiero SIN" resigned when Jacobo Zabludovsky, Televisa's longtime news anchor on "24 Horas" was appointed to take over SIN's US news operations (Subervi-Velez, 1994:338). Noticiero's efforts were successful in keeping Zabludovsky and Televisa's news agendas in Mexico.

SICC was denied a broadcasting license renewal in 1986 by an FCC appointed judge who felt that Televisa's influence on these stations superseded US broadcast laws. In January of 1987, SICC and SIN were merged into Univision, and the headquarters and production studios of this conglomeration was moved to Miami. Galavision (cable), which was part of the old Univision was separated into its own company so that Televisa could maintain control after selling its SICC interests and SIN to Hallmark cards, Inc. later that year (Subervi-Velez, 1994:339). Under Hallmark, Univision continued to expand its facilities in Miami amid protests from Mexican-Americans who feared increased Cuban-American influences and news bias.

Although Univision made strides in producing domestic programming, Hallmark was never satisfied with the company's profit margins. In 1992 Hallmark, announced that it was negotiating a sale of Univision to an investor group that included Emilo Azcarraga and Gustavo and Ricardo Cisneros (owners of the most powerful broadcast corporation in Venezuela, Venevision) (Subervi-Velez, 1994). Both Univision employees, who attempted a counter buyout bid, and others in US Latino communities protested the sale fearing increased encroachment of foreign control, employees and programming. These groups lobbied the FCC not to approve the sale (Subervi-Velez, 1994). Several of Univision's top executives moved to Telemundo before the transfer. The new Univision did cut US productions of programs that did not do well in the Nielson Hispanic Television Index. These slots were mostly filled with Televisa shows from Mexico. With the Televisa corporation and Venevision's greater interests and assets in Latin America, by 1994 Univision was accessible in 17 Latin American countries. In the US, Univision reached 91% of the Hispanic population through over 600 cable affiliates and 36 broadcast stations (Subervi-Velez, 1994:349).

Univision's major competitor in the 1990s, Telemundo, was founded under the initiative of the Reliance Capital Group, headed by Saul Stienberg and Henry Silverman (who was eventually the president of Telemundo). Realizing the potential profitability of the "Hispanic" television market, Reliance acquired floundering television stations in San Juan Puerto Rico, Miami, Houston, San Antonio, San Francisco, Los Angles and the greater NYC metropolitan area (Subervi-Velez, 1994). By 1990, Telemundo was potentially accessible by over 80% of the US Hispanic population. Although a majority of the network's programming was at first imported telenovelas, Telemundo was also innovative in its domestic programming. Examples of original programming include "MTV-International" and "Angelica, Mi Vida," a telenovela made in Puerto Rico which wove the lives of Puerto Rican, Mexican and Cuban families into a US Latino setting (Subervi-Velez, 1994). Despite financial difficulties due to a large debt left over from the company's acquisition phase, Telemundo has joined Univision in seeking to become a diversified global player in Spanish-language markets. In 1993, Telemundo began working with Reuters to produce a 24 international television news service in Spanish (Subervi-Velez, 1994:35).

The expansion of US Spanish-language networks in the 1990s represents their interests in creating a larger profit margin as opposed to offering an cultural resource for Latino communities. In areas where Latino populations are small there is little motive for cable companies to include a Spanish-language channel in local services. Recent research has showed that Spanish-language television can be especially important for recent Latino immigrants who speak little or no English. This medium is an important cultural resource, even if there are other Latino media available in a certain area. We live in an era when many children and adults alike use television for a variety of purposes. Television is both part of our culture(s) and an important conveyor of cultural texts. As the Kerner comission found, one of our greatest failures as a multicultural society has been to demand and mandate that the cultural resources within our communities, particularly television, begin to mirror the cultural diversity of our communities. This failure is largely the responsibility of the dominant society, the corporate media and law-makers at each level of government.

Spanish-language Television and US Latinos

Not much research has been conducted concerning the media use of different US Latino groups. Of the work covered here, one of the principal conclusions is that television use can vary greatly depending on the length of time a family has lived in the US. For groups that have only recently arrived in the US, Spanish-language television, if available, is likely to be one of the few sources of Latino culture(s) that is accessible. This is particularly true for mono-lingual immigrants. It is possible that while immigrant Latinos use Spanish-language television for cultural maintenance, that this use also facilitates acculturation into a broader US Latino culture. In general, however, longitudinal acculturation studies have failed to identify whether certain media choices increase acculturation, or whether various sources of acculturation influence media choices (Johnson, 1996).

In an analysis of the "Impact of Gender and Ethnic Subgroup Membership on Mexican-Americans' Use of Mass Media for Cultural Maintenance," Diana Rios and Stanley Gains argue against the notion of Latinoization (they refer to de-ethnicization). Instead, they posit that Mexican-Americans get the most out of mainstream broadcasts that is possible through selective exposure, while also turning to alternatives for cultural resources that are more detailed and relevant to their experiences and cultural identities. These uses can vary greatly even within ethnic, national, cultural, class and gender groups. Some US Latinas, for example, have reported that both English- and Spanish-language television use helps them to ameliorate and to adapt to "language barriers, discrimination, lack of employment, and financial strains" which exacerbate acculturation stress, i.e. culture shock and lack of cultural competencies" (Johnson, 1996). Several scholars have suggested that some Mexican-American women see themselves as caretakers of Mexican heritage and culture and have used Spanish-language television as resources for exposing their children to Mexican symbols.12 Until recently, Mexican media products were commonly, and still to some extent are, broadcast on US Spanish-language channels. Thus, certain types of media uses for cultural maintenance might be more common within Mexican-American households than for other Latino groups due to the prevalence of Mexican cultural products on some Spanish-language channels (such as Univision). Some local stations cater to sizable Latino populations within their broadcasting area, such as Puerto Ricans and Dominican-Americans in New York and Cuban-Americans in southern Florida.

Rios and Gains' report in their conclusions that cluster analysis subjects identified as having "high Mexican cultural heritage" found Spanish-language television very useful (Rios and Gains, 1997:212). Members of the high heritage cluster were more likely to be recent immigrants and of lower sauce-economic class than the bicultural and low heritage groups. Some of the uses described here are therefore better understood as more likely for recent immigrants from the South Ð groups that can be considered part of a Latin American Diaspora.

This term has been used increasingly to describe various historic migrations from national or regional "homelands" to dispersed parts of the world, usually for reasons of political and economic hardships. Although immigrants from Latin American nations to the USA in the past few decades represent heterogeneous backgrounds, similarly diverse Diasporas have been studied in this manner. The Australian research team mentioned earlier, for example, analyzed the media uses of Australian Chinese communities originating from Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and mainland China, etc.. These researchers see globalization of national media industries as responding to mass migrations: "Like flows of people, media flows travel not just from the metropolises to their peripheries, but can originate within and even help to define major world regions, including 'geolinguistic regions', that is, regions across which there are linguistic and cultural similarities" (Sinclair, Pookong, Fox, Yue, 1997:2).

In the next chapter, some of the cultural implication of Internet use will be discussed. The increased proleferation of the Internet and the integration of domestic electronic information and communication technologies necesitates the synthasis of new, or revised, theoretical (and methodological) models for understanding how and why people use these new media. One of the principal goals of this thesis is to work out what some of the main differences in the cultural uses of television and Internet are. By drawing from the many useful concepts that have been developed through television and media use studies, we can begin to explore how new media such as the Internet are being used in similar and unique ways. The concepts discussed in this chapter and those preceeding it will be used along with the results of the poilet study to suggest the begginings of a theoretical model concerning the cultural uses of the Internet.

There are two central themes with which the concepts that this thesis deals with are concerned. The first is the nature of processes of cultural identification. This process has undoubtedly either evolved (due to), or been affected by, the increasing prevelance of multicultural societies and varrous cultural spaces (information and communication technologies) available. Castells' catagories of collective identity formation is particularly helpful in understanding how different groups develope identity in referance to the dominant society. The use of differant cultural spaces for identity formation and maintenance is of course part of such processes. Theories of resistance and legitamising identity are limited, however, in explaining the great variety and details involved in cultural ues of media. For this we have looked to asecond central theme: the nature of the encoding/decoding process. With each differant information and communication technology, this process, or more accuratly, this cycle of processes, is unique. Infact, each time a media product is created, and each time a product is consumed that particular process is unique to all others. When we look at the encoding side of a particular medium or production unit, we should seek to know who is creating the product(s), why they are doing so, who is able to participate in production, and the range of cultural products available, while exploring the political-economy of text production. On the decoding side, understanding why and how a cultural product or space is used, must be explored in the context of how those messages are mediated and made sense of in social viewing contexts.

In the United States, the cultural diversity of television texts is not great and certainly does not come close to matching the cultural diversity of the US population. The reasons for this are many, including the commercial nature of the industry, the pivotal roles and demands of advertisers, the costs of high-tech production and the socio-economic marginalization of many minority cultural groups. For some groups, the process of creating positive cultural meaning out of television texts involves seek out a scarce number of images or texts that address, or partially address, their cultural presferences. Those technologies and spaces that are found to be most useful for cultural (and other) purposes are likely to be used the most.

IV. The Internet

The Internet is best described as a network of computers which allow individuals to participate in a number of communication methods: sending and receiving email, viewing and creating Web pages, having discussions through usenets, using chat rooms for real time text conversations etc...13 Studies have estimated that at the beginning of 1996, 30 million people worldwide had Internet access. By the year 2000 that number could grow to 250 million (Killen). The Internet's rate of growth has frequently been cited as "exponential." In August, 1996, InterNet Info reported that commercial domains14 in the United States had increased over 139 percent during the first half of the year alone (Homepage of WhyNot.Com). Whether you conceive of the Internet as a global communication tool, a cyberspace of international communities and cultures, or both, this new technology has implications for international business and commerce, advertising, journalism, production of dominant and oppositional cultural texts, cross-cultural communication, education, democratic structures, entertainment, sociology, anthropology, the formation of virtual communities, self-expression and identity formation and development, among other examples. You need not "surf" for long on the net, or "lurk" among usenet rooms to encounter a lot of hyped up positivist or even pessimistic predictions about the current and future implications that the advent of the Internet will have on human civilization.

Many of these opinions laud the democratizing and empowering forms of communication that Internet access can offer through forms of horizontal communication15 (usenet, email), and individual publication of expressive and cultural texts on the World Wide Web. Figures as diverse and well-known as Tony Benn (former British Minister of Technology) and Timothy Leary have argued that computer-mediated communication technology (via the Internet) will provide the means for an effective and truly participatory democracy (Ramsch). Typically these claims argue that the non-hierarchical structure of Internet communications, as well as the lack of visual identity cues that predict social dominance (gender, race, age, class, etc...) are absent in computer-mediated communications (hereafter CMC) such as the Internet. While early research into CMC supported this concept, more recent studies, particularly feminist research, have begun to document that the engendered nature of human communication does not necessarily dissipate in CMC environments. In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, social psychologists studied how CMC affects group decision making, group socialization and individual behavior.

Social psychology research comparing CMC groups and face-to-face groups, has found that: (1) social equalization was higher in CMC groups; (2) group members participated more equally in discussions regardless of social demographics; and (3) that individuals were more uninhibited in CMC. While the concept of the equalizing effects of CMC has since bloomed in popular euphoria for the communications revolution of the Internet, some social psychologists have presented an alternative model that predicts that CMC can foster equal, horizontal exchange, as well as communication that is closer to face-to-face, hierarchical and socially determined processes. In their inquiry into the socialization process in CMC, Spears and Lea question the body of evidence emerging from social psychological studies that suggest that CMC can serve to reduce some of the cultural and social barriers to communication, such as status differentials (race, ethnicity, gender, age), resulting in greater equality of participation (Spears and Lea, 1994). Their research attempts to show that CMC can serve to both reduce and reinforce power relations (Spears and Lea: 428). Stressing the permanence of social factors, they posit that identity and interaction in CMC are grounded in the realities of identities, relations and cultural contexts beyond CMC, which pervade our social lives (Spears and Lea: 429). Early CMC research has been instrumental in establishing theoretical and methodological frameworks and models for the analysis of text-based, networked communication technologies. These technologies, such as MUDs (ÒMulti User DungeonsÓ) and IRC (Internet Relay Chat, i.e. chat rooms) have become increasingly popular with the growth of the Internet and other technologies that use the Internet (like the World Wide Web). MUDs are virtual environments where users from different locations can interact according to the specifications or virtual architecture controlled by MUD applications. Most MUDs are basically networked, multi-user games. Elizabeth Reid has is particularly noted for her ground-braking research of MUD environments. She concludes that:

MUD usage forces users to deconstruct many of the cultural tools and understandings that form the basis of more conventional systems of interaction. Unable to rely on physical cues as a channel of meaning, users of MUDs have developed ways of substituting for or by-passing them, resulting in novel methods of textualising the non- verbal (Reid).

In a way, Reid is describing the process that users go through of developing new social and cultural competencies in MUD environments. MUDs and IRC are certainly part of many usersÕ virtual experiences, yet the frameworks of these studies are not designed to understand how and why people use the variety of technologies that are now common place on the Internet for cultural interaction and expression.

The Internet is now a multimedia environment proliferating with products of various technologies, various cultures, various uses and various users. As Bruce Overby explains in his study of social identity in usenet environments, "cyberspace...can be understood as a vast territory, a space of representations. While human beings have inhabited representational spaces for a very long time, we have never been able to create representations with the ease and flexibility possible in cyberspace" (Overby). It is this flexibility of expression and the ability to form expressive relationships that have enticed many individuals into this habitat. In the few years since the Internet has enjoyed exponential growth, new subcultures and old subcultures have emerged, taking advantage of all that cyberspace has to offer. It is in this light that the evolution of media use is taking place via the Internet. Participation in media is not longer limited to the audience's active engagement in the interpretation of texts. Now many types of horizontal dialogue are possible through email, chat rooms, discussion boards and usenet, and real-time audio and video conferencing. Furthermore, full self-management of personal and group Web sites allows for almost any type of cultural and personal information to be published (either for the general public or for a select, private group). When you consider this in conjunction with the fact that the potential number and variety of choices (sites) is almost endless, it is easy to get excited at the cultural implications of this.

Despite all of this potential, it is important to gather a succinct idea of what the Net is actually being used for. Is it a vast kaleidoscope of opinions and cultures, or more of a pipeline for corporate communication needs? At present, the largest factor limiting the proliferation of the Internet is the cost of its infrastructure and of the hardware (i.e. computers) needed to use it. The majority of Internet users live in North America or Western Europe. These countries have relatively large middle-classes and already established telephone and fiber-optics networks that the Internet can run on. For most of the rest of the world, modernization is a consistent process that governments invest in to further their countries' positions in the global political-economic system. Although "being connected" is often part of this agenda, many scholars of development and modernization argue that the social costs of neoliberal economics and rampant, thoughtless industrialization are not justifiable. In this light, this research not does support or advocate access projects outside of sustainable development.

So far, very little research has been done on what gratifications users are getting out of the information and communication technologies of the Internet. Likewise the cultural impact of Internet use has not been analyzed to the extent of other mediums such as television. At Georgia Tech, the Graphics, Visualization, & Usability (GVU) Center has been conducting general surveys of Internet users for several years. One significant finding of this research is that most of the respondents to their surveys report accessing the Internet from home. In the USA, 60 percent of those surveyed in early 1997 used the Internet from home (Graphics, Visualization, & Usability Center, 1997a). Thus, many Internet interactions take place within the moral economy of the household which influences the cultural and social mediations of media use and interpretations. This does not mean that home Internet use is mediated in the same way as television. Family group viewing of television, for example, can be common place, while using a computer to access the Internet could be more frequently an individual process.

A GVU survey conducted in early 1997 also asked about personal uses of the World Wide Web. The most common Web activities reported were gathering information (86.03%), browsing (61.29%), work (54.05%), education (52.21%), communication (47.02%), and entertainment (45.48%) (Graphics, Visualization, & Usability Center, 1997a). Since survey subjects were allowed to chose several categories as their most common type of use, and since these categories do not seem mutually exclusive, it is difficult to draw conclusions from this data. Each category can include using the Web for cultural maintenance and expression (with the exception perhaps of work). The GVU surveys have helped, however, to show that some individuals use the Internet instead of, and as a replacement for, television. Of respondents in the US (again from an early 1997 survey) over 35 percent claim that they use the Web instead of watching television on a daily basis (Graphics, Visualization, & Usability Center, 1997a).

Considering that most of these users have only had Internet access for a few years or less, the growing importance of this technology over other domestic media is quite amazing. The authors of the GVU survey results conclude that "These numbers when used in conjunction with the use of the email as being on equal par with the phone paint a tremendously strong picture of the rapid integration of the Internet and World Wide Web into the fabric of the lives of those who currently use it" (Graphics, Visualization, & Usability Center, 1997a). The most recent survey (fall 1997) shows that email (84%) and the Web (82%) are by far the most used technologies (via the Internet) (Graphics, Visualization, & Usability Center, 1997b). 43 percent of those surveyed have created a personal Web pages (more that half of men and about one-third women users).

Like all other Internet users, US Latinos who have access use a variety of different technologies when they are online. I have been unable to find statistics of the number of US Latinos who use the Internet, or studies of what specific Internet technologies some of them use and why. There is a sizable population of US Latinos who are poor or live in poverty. Like all Internet users, those US Latinos who have access are likely to middle and upper class. Ultimately the cultural and empowering potential of the Internet cannot be truly realized while only relatively wealthy individuals and families have access. The information and communication possibilities offered by these technologies actually helps to further marginalize many groups who are being left behind and ignored in the information age.

The presence of (mostly middle class) US Latinos on the Web is however prominent and easily located. One of the best ways to study the Latino presence on the Internet is to visit the myriad of personal and group/organizations Web pages that are available to anyone with a connection and a Web browser. A closer look at one of these sites can offer some examples of the type of cultural expression that Internet (in this case World Wide Web) use can facilitate and how aspects of personal and cultural identity are integrated into these new cultural texts. One page encountered during the course of this research that I found particularly interesting was "a Chicana feminist homepage," which was created and is maintained by Susanna Gallardo. Like many of the US Latinos who maintain Web pages, Gallardo is affiliated with a University. Her Web page html and email account are both stored on university servers. A copy of her introduction page is included as Appendix C. Gallardo writes in a welcome statement that her site is "just one Chicana's efforts at providing an introduction to Chicana and Chicano cultures and issues in Chicana feminisms through a collection of educational and cultural resources" (Gallardo). This site provides links to a variety of Latino resources on the Web as well as information on the author's personal views and interests. One of the most interesting pages on her site gives brief biographies on famous/important Chicanas. Two that are covered are Emma Tennayuca, an activist for Mexican farmworkers in Texas in the 1930s and Yvonne Trevino the World Super Flyweight boxing champion.

Susanna Gallardo's site is literally filled with information about Chicanas and US Latino culture. She includes links and reviews about Latino movies, bands, television shows and novels. There are also links to papers and Web sites dealing with Chicana studies and literature. Yet Susanna's site is not just about her interests, it is an expression of her identity and her culture. It is a statement of who she is and what she values as a young Chicana and as a unique individual. At the same time this site allows her to reach out to other Chicanas, US Latinos and people who want to learn more about Chicanas. While Susanna is engaged in her daily life, Web users can engage the texts that she has created. Her site is an active product, a piece of Chicana culture in the vast cultural space of the World Wide Web. This site in particular is a partial index of Chicana and US Latino cultural products that exist within varies cultural spaces(mediums) and stakes a claim on what it is to be Chicana and Latino. When non-Latinos think of Chicanas, their ideas and definitions may be influenced by this site. US Latino Web users may go there to access other resources, Chicana Studies pages, or to learn more about famous Chicanas.


V. Results of the Pilot Study Survey

Along with the data gathered with the email survey of US Latino Internet users, this chapter presents some preliminary observations and conclusions about these results. The answers to each question and related series of questions are discussed. Chapter Six uses the data presented here along with the concepts delineated and developed in Chapters Two and Three to address and answer the primary research question and to sketch out some ideas for a future theoretical framework studying cultural uses of Internet technologies.

The results presented below are from thirteen completed surveys that were returned to me. One other survey was actually returned, but the respondent did not seem to understand several of the questions. Overall, nineteen surveys were sent to volunteers, and over fifty inquiries were sent via email to US Latino Internet users asking them to participate in the survey. The limitations of some of the survey questions and ideas for future survey questions are offered in the discussion sections.

The thirteen survey participants come from a variety of backgrounds. Five of them were born outside of the continental United States. Alberto, Carlo and Lolia were all born in the Dominican Republic. Alberto is now 46 and is divorced. The highest level of education that he achieved was a Master's degree. He also asked that his current city of residence be withheld from publication. Carlo was born in the city of Santo Domingo in 1949. He lives in Arizona, is married and has children. Carlo has earned both a M.D. and a M.B.A. degree. Lolia is a more recent immigrant, having been born in Santiago in 1976. She is now a sophomore at a college in Maryland. In retrospect, I think that it would have been useful have asked the age at which these respondents moved to the USA. It would also be helpful to find out how often they return to the country in which they were born. The two other participants that immigrated are Yvonne and Maria. Yvonne is 54, middle class and has a Ph.D. As for Maria, she asked that her personal information not be used.

Of the other eight respondents, most are in their thirties and consider themselves middle class. Rudy was born in Los Angeles and was partially raised by Mexican relatives. Sofia lives in Milwaukee, was born in Chicago and is 37. She also has two children and a Bachelors of Science. Enrique has a college degree, but considers himself lower middle class. He is 30, single, and lives in Austin Texas. Another respondent, Rico, also lives in Austin. Both he and Enrique were born in Texas as well. Rico is in his mid-thirties and has earned a M.B.A. A third participant who was born in Texas is Anna. She currently lives in California, has a college degree, husband and kids. Nate works with inner-city Latino youth in Boston. Mary is a college student in Boston. The youngest respondent is Rich (about 20 years old). He attends college in Philadelphia.

Full participant biographical profiles are offered at the end of the chapter. Although I am pleased with the results gathered by the survey, I believe that more in-depth personal information for each respondent would have been useful for analyzing and understanding their answers to the main survey questions. The following sections present the responses gathered for these main questions and discussions on some of the implications of these results

---------- Questions One through Three: Media Use

1. What US Latino/Hispanic media do you use regularly? a) magazines b) television c)newspapers d) radio
Rich - b,d Enrique - b Rudy - a,b,c
Anna - b  Maria - a,b,d Mary - b 
Sofia - all Rico - a  Alberto - all
Nate - all Yvonne - a
magazines = 7
television = 8
n. papers = 4
radio = 2

2. Do you use US Spanish-language media? a) not at all b) sometimes c) frequently
Rich - a Enrique - b Lolia - c
Anna - a Maria - c Rudy - b
Mary - c  Sofia - b Rico - b
Alberto - c Nate - b Yvonne - a
not at all = 3
sometimes = 5
frequently = 4

2.1. If so, what Spanish-language media do you use? (chose those that apply) a) magazines b) television c) newspapers d) radio e) list others
Mary - all Enrique - all Rico - b
Maria - a,b,d  Sofia - all
Alberto - a,b,c,d & Internet Rudy - b,c 
magazines = 5
television = 8
n. papers = 5
radio = 6
other = 1

3. Do you consider Spanish-language television to be a viable cultural resource?
Rich - Yes. Enrique - Yes. Lolia - Yes.
Anna - Yes. Maria - Yes. Rudy - Yes.
Mary - Yes.  Alberto - Yes. Rico - No.
Carlo - Yes. Nate - Mostly not. Sofia - Yes. Spanish speaking television helps me to develop my ear linguistically for the language. 

3.1. If so, why?

Anna - Because it provides the people with a connection to their people, culture..and news...It also gives the younger American/Hispanic youths a visualization of their race.

Mary - It keeps Latinos in the United States connected with Latinos in Latin America. It also promotes the use of the Spanish-language and of Latin American culture.

Rico - It's just reruns of programming created by Televisa, the powerful Mexican monopoly. It's not relevant to the US Latino experience. And all US programming is created by Cubans in Miami, people whose experience is foreign to mine.

Nate - I feel that Spanish-language TV plays into a lot of stereotypes especially in the depiction of women as blonde, light skinned, large breasted etc. I would love to see more diversity in particular with the women. Also Spanish-language TV's news could be much better.

Enrique - As a member of what's considered to be a minority group I don't always have the opportunity to speak Spanish or listen to Spanish music so television fulfills this void.

Maria - It is a viable cultural source because not only does it let us preserve our culture and language, it also teaches others. For those individuals who are curious about the Latino culture and want to learn Spanish, I believe that Spanish-language television would benefit them.

Alberto - Because the Spanish culture is very multifaceted due to its multinational character but common roots in Spain. Through Spain we are connected to traditional Western civilization. Through Latin America we are an expression of modern Western civilization.

Sofia - Spanish-language television helps me to develop my ear linguistically for the language.

Carlo - It is the link and the expression of our culture.

Lolia - It allows not only native speakers to learn about the different Latin American cultures and customs but also individuals that are not familiar with whom we are.

Rudy - I watch a lot soccer, and the only consistent coverage outside of cable TV. comes through Spanish-language media. Also, from time to time I watch Spanish-language news to get a different spin - sometimes even a whole different world of news - from mainstream US English media.


The answers to question one reveal that all of the respondents turn to Latino oriented media for one reason or another. This question might have offered more succinct data if it had asked what English-language Latino media is used. Furthermore, it is not possible from this data to tell which Latino media (aside from Spanish-language TV and Internet technologies) are consumed to meet different uses and gratifications. Most of the respondents used some Spanish-language media as well, with Spanish-language television being one of the most commonly used mediums. In the future, finding out how many hours a week are spent using each medium, would be useful. This is particularly important if we are to find out if uses of Internet technologies are superseding the consumption of other domestic media. Also, most felt that Spanish-language television was a valuable cultural resource. Several saw the access to cultural events from Latin American countries and the fact that it is a medium where Spanish is used as being particularly important. Nate and Rico, however, viewed Spanish-language TV as not realistically portraying US Latino lives and culture. In looking at their other responses, both find Internet use more culturally and socially significant and useful than most mainstream media and Spanish-language media as well. While several of the respondents seemed to feel that Spanish-language television represented aspects of US Latino culture, Rico felt that it is overly controlled by Cuban-American interests.

----- Question Four: Marginalization

4. Do you feel that your culture, the cultural background and heritage that you and your family identify with, is marginalized or underrepresented within the mainstream culture in the US? Please explain.

Rich - Speaking for all minorities, a particular cultural background is represented in the mainstream culture in the US only when it appeals to the (for lack of a better word, feel free to substitute) "white people." MTV is a great example, where hip-hop/rap has gained prominence because many whites have developed a likeness for it, not because MTV chose to air such artists (LL Cool J, 2-Pac, Puff Daddy, Wu-Tang Clan, etc.) and spread African-American culture. This last statement is inaccurate. I only chose to leave it because it represents what some may believe. The truth is that hip-hop represents an urban culture. It is a conglomeration of Blacks, Latinos, and even Indians. This urban culture also represents Whites, and was it not for them (groups such as the Beastie Boys), there wouldn't be such a large market for rap today. Hard core rappers are always knocked by the older, Whites of the country. It will be interesting to see in another fifty years what the outlook will be (whether it will change or not - I bet it will).

Anna - Yes, Our ethnic culture is falsely represented in the media, schools and in the majority of jobs. Our culture is constantly being chastised...falsely observed as an ethnic group that operates under the stereotypes that society perceives us Hispanics to be. Our heritage is falsely viewed. Other ethnic minorities have obtained a few notches ahead of racism and stereotypes ...but our Hispanic people have neglected to fight for remove any stereotypes that hinder our progress. Instead we have become silent. What will it take to awaken Us into ACTION....? Will it be a holocaust...or slavery ....when we will say enough?

Mary - Latino in general, and more specifically, Puerto Ricans, are invisible and ignored in the media. There are a few exemptions, but for the most part we are always portrayed in stereotypical roles.

Rico - Yes. I'm a fourth generation American of mestizo heritage Ð part European and part Native-American. It seems everywhere in American culture the presence and contributions of both Native-Americans and Hispanics, the first European explorers and settlers of 3/4s of the continental US, are unknown and trivialized. Worse, it's called foreign, when many of us have been here for generations, some for as long as 400 years.

Nate - Absolutely, as a Puerto Rican. Traditionally we are portrayed as criminals, drug dealers, welfare recipients, entertainers and the like. You would never see a positive Latino in traditional media (actually rarely). Working with youth I see how many kids use these stereotypes in the media to absorb and continue many of the negative things that are happening in the community and continue a cycle of self-victimization.

Enrique - Yes. On television you're always depicted in relation to the Law. Either as a cop/detective or as a thug/drug dealer type. Also, there are shows of anglo families and black families but every time there's one about Latinos they get canceled. That wouldn't matter so much if every once in a while there was a Latino Doctor or computer geek or something that doesn't require some menial service. Even the Hispanic people on TV, like Hector Elizondo, plays an Anglo character on Chicago Hope.

Maria - Yes. I believe that Latinos are underrepresented in the US. People fail to acknowledge the diversity of the Latino history as well as the many cultures that we represent. In a society that is based on a racial hierarchy of Black & White, Latinos are coerced into the Black category. While I have always acknowledged my African heritage, NOT putting less value on the Tainos or Spanish, I do not identify myself as Black.

Sofia - Yes. US society is mainly Eurocentric. Now that the Latino population is growing and is predicted to explode, it seems that the media is beginning to recognize this and hone in from an aspect of "Latino as consumer."

Alberto - It might be marginalized because it is underrepresented. Many of the Spanish speaking immigrants have a lower level of education. But once they access to higher education, they realize that the Anglo-Saxon culture is not superior, nor that the Spanish culture is inferior. We are both different expressions of a common Western civilization (as opposed to the Orient or Africa). Nevertheless, oral tradition in the Spanish culture is strong enough to keep a certain impermeability to typical cultural English values, especially those related to religion, community vs. family and the individual.

Yvonne - Yes. Because the media tends to portray Latinos as lazy, uneducated, with drug problems, at low income, unchallenging jobs, etc.

Carlo - I feel we are culturally underrepresented. A few American televisions and radio stations have Spanish programs.

Lolia - For the most part I think my culture is very marginalized in the New York area because for the most part all one hears about is the negative aspects of my culture very rarely are high qualified business individuals as well as students recognized for their hard work and commitment to the improvement of the economy and society of the USA.

Rudy - Yes. I didn't quite realize it until I watched an episode this year of Touched By Angel that featured not only Chicano actors but a Chicano-based storyline. I don't think much about TV's stereotypes, negative or positive, so I was actually surprised by how I felt about the episode. For me, as a Chicano, a Mexican-American, I look to neither the US English-language media nor to Latin America-oriented Spanish media for identity. I've accepted for a long time that "caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar," or "Traveler there is no road, you make the road as you walk." Am I callused, hardened? I hope not, and my reaction to this Touched by an Angel episode shows me I'm not. I would welcome more characters like those on the show. I don't want to see a bunch of gangbangers, nor movie stars, nor dancers and musicians. I just want to see real Chicanos making moral choices, sacrifices, and being concerned for all people.

Discussion The results of question four give a strong illustration of how resistance identity may be manifested in understandings of the realities of social and cultural marginalization and desires for more equal and positive group representations. It was very interesting to see that most of the responses discussed negative images of Latinos in the mainstream media, even though the question did not ask specifically about media representations (this may have been due to the subject matter of the survey and the earlier questions). While each respondent did feel that Latino culture is marginalized in the USA, offering cultural representations was not part of the purpose of each, or most, of the their Web pages.

---- Questions Five through Six: Length and Place of Access

5. How many years have you been using the Internet?
Rich - 4 Enrique - 10  Carlo - 2
Anna - 2 Maria - 4 Lolia - 4 Mary - 3 
Sofia - 8  Rudy - 4 Rico -6  Alberto - 5 or 6  Nate - 3 Yvonne - 4

6. From where do you have/get Internet access? a) home b) work c) library d) friend(s) e)list other 
Rich - a,d,e - school Enrique- a,b  Anna - a  Maria - a university
Mary - home Sofia - a,b Rico -a,b Alberto - a 
Nate - a,b  Yvonne - a,b  Lolia - a, c, d  Rudy - a,b

home = 11
work = 6
library = 1
friends = 2
school = 2


The average number of years that survey respondents have been using the Internet is about four years seven months (4.6). For those who have been online the longest (Rico, Enrique, Sofia) their early years most likely involved the use of text-based technologies such as email and usenet. Multimedia interfaces like the Web have only had wide-spread use since 1993 or 1994. Yet even for those who have only been using the Internet for a couple of years are likely to have developed several basic competencies, while learning what the different technologies have to offer. It is also significant that all the respondents, save one, have access from home. About half also have access at work. It is likely that the Internet use at home is of much more personal nature than at work, where the types of uses are often restricted. Future questions should be designed to see which technologies are used in different locations and what the purpose of these uses are.

All but one of the respondents do use networked information and communication technologies in the home and within the moral economy of the household. From looking at the respondents demographics biographies, it appears likely that three or four of those that have home Internet access and live in a family with children. One of the limitations of the survey is that it did not ask in-depth questions about the social environment of Internet use. Examples of further questions are: If you have access at home, then which members of the household regularly go online? Is the computer/Internet used by one person at a time (alone)? (and) What type of Internet use do household groups or pairs engage in? While questions such as these might gather helpful data, other methods such as observation of personal and group use in the household, might tell us more about social mediations which can affect cultural uses. Other types of "virtual" fieldwork could form the basis of excellent research on this subject as well. Observation of chat rooms, MUDs and discussion forums(like usenet and listserves) are methodologies that have been used to some extend and that must be explored further.

---- Questions Seven through Eight: Web Use

7. & 7.1 Do you have a personal or group web page?

Rich -
Anna -
Mary - Yes.
Rico - Yes.
Nate - and
Enrique -
Maria -
Sofia - I have a personal web page and am developing a web page for the community based organization and grade/midddle school where I teach.
Alberto - Yes.
Yvonne - Yes.
Carlo - It's under construction.
Lolia -
Rudy - Yes. I maintain a web page for my organization, Harambee Christian Family Center, and a personal home page for me and my wife, Kafi., Me and Wife:

8. What kind of content have you put on your Web page?

Rich - It is a hyper Latino page.
Anna - Personal information about my family and I...and a few psychology links...
Mary - Personal.
Rico - Resume.
Nate - Latino, educational, political links mostly along with personal info about myself, family, etc Much of it focuses on Puerto Ricans in the US.

Enrique - Things about how to use the internet, how to use your Macintosh, and a plethora of Chicano/Latino/Hispanic resources on the Internet.

Maria - Culture, politics,sexuality.
Alberto - Some articles on the Spanish Dominican language.
Yvonne - Professional information.
Carlo - Business information.
Lolia - Basically a brief personal history and some links to Dominican information.

Rudy - Harambee: stuff related to organization Me and Wife: resumes, photos, an archive of articles I've written, some links

8.1. Is your Web page important to you as a site for cultural expression?

Rich - Yes, but it should be noted that it in no way reflects who I am, 100%. It is a homepage which shows many of my interests. However, being a homepage it was developed with a specific view in order to make it exciting and/or disturbing for others.

Anna - Yes and no...not really specific on this one.
Mary -Yes and no, I made one just for fun, but I put a lot of stuff that has cultural relevance.
Rico - No.
Nate - Very much so.
Enrique - Yes.
Maria - Yes.
Sofia - Yes.
Alberto - Yes.
Yvonne - I do include links to Puerto Rico and in that sense it can be considered as a site for cultural expression, but not in its totality.

Carlo - Yes. Because it is another front for communication, business, and cultural exchange.
Rudy - No.

8.2. Why or why not?

Anna - The reason why my focus isn't on my culture is because in my's not an issue to display.

Rico - It's an expression of myself. I'm an American that just happens to be Latino.

Nate - It allows me to share what I know about my culture and politics and spread the word. Hopefully making it easier to develop connections and allow students and others to research Latinos and politics

Enrique - When you hear commercials about how the Internet removes all barriers, it's frustrating to hear the lie. The Internet is catered to a White, Male, Professional, English speaking elite. So in order to break into that void, I created my homepage in hopes that others like me who were looking for a sense of themselves out on the internet could find that in my pages. Maria - This page is a conglomeration of what I represent.
Sofia - It is my own space, defined by me, created by me.
Alberto - It allows me to reach an avant-garde that will be shaping the next cultural (r)evolution.
Lolia - Because some people can see that there are people my age from my culture working really hard to be excellent role models for our younger children.

Rudy - I had a web site for cultural expression, which I called all things genxlatino. I just quit maintaining it. No reason in particular, except for time.


Although every respondent had some sort of Web page, some wanted the URL of their sites to be confidential. There is a great variety between the subjects of what they decided to put on their pages and why. Some sought to manifest aspects of their personal identities. For a few this included explicitly cultural information. Nate, Enrique, Maria and Alberto were among those who wanted to provide Latino cultural resources. A little more than half of the total group see cultural expression as at least part of their motivation in creating a Web page. For several, their page is a space for expressing what they are and what they represent. Each offered important, yet personalized versions of who they are as US Latinos and as a unique individuals. The other respondents see their Web page as a space to publish "personal information" such as resumes, personal interests and links to favorite sites.

----- Questions Nine through Ten: Interactions with other US Latinos

9. Have you visited Web pages created by and for Latinos? Why?

Rich - Yes sometimes, just to see if they have a more vivid imagination!
Anna - Yes, in the beginning when I first came on to the internet....I searched for Latino homepages. I found few that addressed issues....mainly they were personal information about them.
Mary -I find that it is a good way to meet people with similar interest and cultural backgrounds.
Rico - Yes, to find and exchange information.
Nate - Yes, due to the Diaspora of Latino peoples it is good to share our individual experiences. On the web we are able to create and share our realities and struggles and realize the level of intelligence (and in some cases ignorance and insanity) of many of la gente. It makes research easier as well as connections for the work that we do.

Sofia - Yes, for research, contact with other locations, call for action, information. Enrique - Yes. People send me links all the time and ask me to add them to my index.

Maria - Yes I have. I wanted to see the various ways Latinos express themselves. I strongly believe that what a person adds onto their Webpages, or what they are most concerned about is a reflection of who they are.
Alberto - Yes. In order to see what are their primary ideas to communicate outside their immediate real life listeners/readers (as opposed to virtual).
Yvonne - Yes, because they give me quick access to interesting and important information .

Carlo - Because, I relate to its content. It usually talk about things that I am familiar with, and speak in a language that I understand well.
Lolia - Yes, because I like to interact and learn from what other individuals have to say and offer in general.

Rudy - Yes. I'm interested to see all the stuff going on. I dig news most, so the LatinoLink web site has been really helpful. I'm not so much into the "let's be proud of being raza" or "hooray for my gente" pages. I do like It's a crack-up. Visit the "Rate Your Pochisimo" page.

9.1. What is the cultural significance of Web pages created by and for Latinos?

Anna - I have found there to be only a few of significance...not much that relates to me...
Mary - I think it is used as form of self-expression, especially by young educated Latinos.
Rico - It is a way for us to share our similar experiences.
Nate - We have created a virtual community on the internet. Especially through the various universities etc...and Web pages set up by agencies and organizations.

Enrique - Most of the people who are Latino and on the Internet are at a University. Many are away from family and friends and their culture. Sometimes it's nice to be able to find that sense of familiarity if not locally , then at least on the Internet.

Maria - Latinos? People have different reasons for creating their Webpages, so I cannot answer this question.
Sofia - Language, art, theater, information, community.

Alberto - It has allowed many of us to reach the worldwide Spanish speaking community that lives outside an English speaking dominant environment.

Yvonne - We can share our cultural heritage. It is a source of pride to read about what other Latinos are doing and about the cultural activities taking place in different communities. It is also a way to expand networks among Latinos and to keep our cultural traditions alive.

Carlo - The cultural significance is that we can promote our ideas and culture, and we can also keep abreast with the advances of the technology.

Lolia - The cultural significance to me is to learn about each other and try to close the gap between the different Latino communities.

Rudy - The cultural significance of Web pages is that one, through a survey of these pages, might figure out what is REALLY happening in US Latino culture. The stereotypical idea of Latinos, both among mainstream dominated English media as well as Spanish-language media, is that there is an "ethnically correct" Latino. This is not true. I look to the web for expression of the culture and uniqueness of second and third generation Latinos, as well as for the expressions of bi-racial kids (I meet a lot of bi-racial Latinos these days when I speak at universities).

10. Have you interacted with other US Latinos via the Internet?
Rich - Yes, there are some web rings out there. (I am part of one) Anna - No. Mary - Yes. 
Rico - Yes. Nate - Yes, some that I know and other strangers. Enrique - Yes.
Maria - Yes.  Sofia - Yes. Alberto - Yes.  Yvonne - Yes. Carlo - Yes.  Lolia - Yes. Rudy - Yes.

10.1. What specific Internet technologies have you used to do this? (email, listserves, the Web, etc)

Rich - e-mail, Web
Mary - email, listserves, the Web
Rico - Chat, list serves, news groups, AOL message boards.
Nate - email, some list serves, www, ftp, html
Enrique - direct email, listserves, the Web, Internet relay chat.
Maria - email,listservs, the Internet, chatrooms
Sofia - email, listserves, Web search engines
Alberto - Listserves via email, IRC and the www
Yvonne - email, Listservers and the Web
Carlo - email and the Web
Lolia - All.
Rudy - Mostly email. Some AOL chat with my Latino friends. Some visit my Web pages.

10.2. Why are these interactions important to you? (culturally and otherwise)

Rich - They are not entirely important. However, it is nice to now that there are other people out there who feel the same way you do and enjoy the same things you do.

Anna - Because it reminds us of our heritage, culture and responsibility to our children to pass the pride in our ethnic to bury it....if we allow it to die so will our children.
Mary - Fun.
Rico - It's a source of information and sharing not found in the main stream media.
Nate - The establishment of virtual community and realizing that you are not isolated in the struggle for equality are important.

Enrique - It gives me an opportunity to get feedback on whether my work is worth the effort. Also, it makes me feel good to know that I've made someone happy just because they were able to find a Latino on the Internet. They tell me it makes them proud that a brother like me is making a presence on the internet.

Maria - It is important to me to interact with Latinos from other places besides the US or my university, etc. I believe that we learn from each other and exchange politics that help us understand issues that affect us in different ways. I have always said that we first need to solve the problems that exist within our culture before we are able to deal with other cultures. I believe that this cultural interaction and cultural-political interaction makes us as Latinos even stronger.
Sofia - They are important for inexpensive communication purposes, inexpensive, research and information sources. The information regarding political events in Southern Mexico is firsthand information. The media does not cover in-depth these events. The cost seems to be a large factor, the range of contact seems to be another. The technological Net reaches globally.

Alberto - Because for the first time persons of different education and backgrounds, but with a common language and common interest (curiosity about the limitless possibility of the Internet), are learning to establish a dialog based on ideas, interests, prejudices (or the lack of), without boundaries of a geographical nature or a time/framework.

Carlo - Business contact, old friends regardless of the location, new friends, learning about technology, news that impact in the Hispanic community.

Rudy - I actually make new friends this way, especially with up-and-coming, media savvy Latinos. I have significantly enhanced my relationships with Chicano syndicated columnists like myself. I am thirty, the other two are 31, and all of us have written for national syndicates. We are all busy, one is in a different state, but we continually exchange ideas and criticism. I have never spent much time with these guys in person. But we have spent tons of time on the Net, and our relationships are significant. I most certainly would not have built these friendships without email (to be more specific, without America Online. Note to Steve Case: Break me off, homey!)


This series of questions illustrates that both the Web and other Internet technologies are utilized for cultural exchange and for some cultural maintenance and identity affirmation. Most all the respondents enjoyed using Internet technologies to engage other US Latinos through personal communication and by visiting US Latino Web sites. These sites are seen as bringing Latinos together, offering US Latino experiences and cultural products, and functioning as windows to "what is REALLY happening in US Latino culture" (Rudy). While all of the respondents use other US Latino media, the Web offers a much greater range of viewpoints of what it is to be Latino. The data gathered in (10.1) show that most of the group use a variety of Internet technologies to communicate with other US Latinos. Most valued the ability to share personal experiences. This may be part of processes of identity maintenance and affirmation through communication with members of a shared or common cultural and social group. Unlike US Latino oriented media, Internet technologies facilitate horizontal communication with members of a common group or people who have different backgrounds. While the Web (to some extent) offers many types of information available in the mainstream media, communication technologies like email, chat rooms and listserves are used in many different types of cultural and personal communication. Most of the respondents see these technologies as enabling dialogue with others who would (for the most part) not be otherwise accessible. For some US Latinos, interaction with members of other US Latino groups who have both different and similar cultural and social perspectives may influence identification with and understandings of US Latino culture(s).

----- Questions Eleven through Thirteen: Latin American Interactions

11. Of the Latino oriented Web sites that you use (or have used), what percentage would you estimate are US sites, versus sites originating within Latin American countries?

Rich - Hard to say. 50%. Really. Because many Latin American countries just are not as technologically advanced as the US (at least this is what I believe - I've never been out of the country)

Mary - 95% US

Maria - 60%US, 40%LA

Rico - Most are US.

Nate - If you include Puerto Rico as part of the US I would say 90% are from inside the states. Maybe 70% from the continental US.

Enrique - 95% US

Sofia - 90% US

Lolia - 90% US

Alberto - 40% US / 60% Spain and Latin America

Yvonne - 80% US

Carlo - 75% US

Rudy - All the Latino-oriented web sites I use are US. based.

12. Do you use the Internet to communicate with people who live in Latin America?

Rich - No, not really. But the possibility is there (and so is the ease).
Anna - I would like to.
Mary - Yes.
Rico - Sometimes.
Nate - In Puerto Rico and with a friend in the Dominican Republic.
Enrique - Yes.
Maria - Yes.
Sofia - People in Mexico.
Alberto - Yes.
Yvonne - Yes.
Carlo - Yes.
Rudy - Yes.
Lolia - Yes.

13. Do you think that interaction with people and (Web) sites from Latin America influences your cultural identity? How so?

Rich - Sure.
Anna - Possibly, depends on what stuff you are interested in. If you are really into issues of Latin America as opposed to issues of Latinos in the Unites States then the Internet is a great way to learn about Latin America, cheaply!

Rico - Yes, because being a US Latino is something far different from being a citizen of Latin America. You can learn more about your heritage.

Nate - Not greatly, although access to Web sites does as I am allowed to see what is happening in Puerto Rico and the rest of Latin America especially through news sites.

Enrique - Yes. When I came to UT, I referred to myself as Mexican. I knew I was an American citizen, but that was about Patriotism. My identity, was Mexican. But through interaction with other Latinos that weren't of Mexican descent, my world view and personal identity changed to that of calling myself Latino. Before, I never would have called myself that.

Maria - Yes. It helps me keep an open mind. The life in Latin America is obviously different to that in the states. So are our politics differ.

Sofia - It reinforces my self definition and my purpose on Earth.
Alberto - Yes. Because we realize that we are facing common problems in a shrinking world where distances are not an obstacle to the flow of ideas and the fighting of bias and prejudices.
Yvonne - Very much so.
Carlo - Yes. We learn more about different Hispanic cultures, and also find out about histories and common roots.
Lolia - Not really because one is born with one's cultural identity. One tends to stress it more when one is in a country like the USA because there are so many cultures.

Rudy - Yes, my Web and email interactions with Latin America are with people I already know in person. I don't meet new Latin Americans over the Internet.


Five respondents were born in Latin American countries (this is if you consider Puerto Rico as being part of both Latin America and the USA). Four of these were among the most frequent users of Latin American Web sites. Of the respondents who were born in the USA, only Nate used Latin American sites more than ten percent of the time (this is as compared to US sites). Yet, most all of the group feel that interaction with people and Web sites (via Internet technologies) influences their cultural identity. Learning about cultural heritage and about differences between Latin American culture and US cultures were listed as motivations for these interactions.

---- Questions Fourteen and Fifteen: Effects on Perceptions and Cultural Identity

14. Has your perception of Latino communities and culture in the US been influenced by your Internet use?

Anna - Not yet that I'm aware of.
Mary - No.
Rico - Yes, I'm able to learn about experiences in other parts of the country that get scant attention in the media.
Nate - Yes.
Enrique - Yes, but mostly the language. Using Internet relay chat helped me learn subtle cultural differences in the ways different words are used in different countries. Maria - No.
Sofia - Yes.
Alberto - Yes.
Carlo - Yes, I Have learned about educated Hispanics. ( It breaks the stereotype that most Hispanic are not educated.
Rudy - I'm glad to see how many Latinos actually use AOL. The internet buttresses the idea that Latinos are Americans, too, are English speakers, are bicultural - all these things that most Americans and Spanish-media are slow to catch onto.

15. How has your identification with these cultures been influenced by your Internet use?

Mary - I don't think it has. It is not part of my identity Ð just a hobby.

Rico - It helps mend or strengthen the ties between people of diverse national origins Ð helping bridge the gap between the 3 largest groups, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans.

Nate - Greater identification with educated people who care about our people and want to share our culture and pride with everybody. Also the diversity of ideas that exist politically and socially. A greater pride and hope.

Enrique - Beyond identifying myself as Latino, not much.>br> Sofia - Yes.
Alberto - I have discovered that many "brains" have left their respective countries for economical reasons and that a brain trust, technologically advanced, native speakers of Spanish are interacting in an English speaking world, without losing their cultural identity in a give, take and share attitude.

Carlo - Learned about regionalisms, people interests, behaviors, ethnicity, etc.

Lolia - It has taught me about the different ways of living different Latinos have throughout the USA.

Rudy - I know more people, more places, more ideas. I already identified strongly. What I have now is evidence for others who are skeptical of my vision of Latino America.


Most of the respondents seem to feel that their understanding of US Latino culture and their identification with this culture have been somewhat affected by their Internet use. Learning about the experiences and views of other US Latinos was particularly important. They enjoyed the broad scope of other Latinos and cultural products that can be found via the Internet. Several, however, did not report any type of greater identification or new perceptions of US Latino communities.

----- Question Sixteen: Access for Poor Neighborhoods

16. Do you think Internet access projects in poorer Latino communities could be beneficial? Why or why not?

Rich - Yes.
Anna - Now this is my opinion, but currently the Internet doesn't provide our ethnic group anything of value for our communities or youth to come in contact with. The Internet from my perspective has bridged the gap from exposure to those who weren't exposed to before concerning the issue of pornography...and providing the victimizers with victims. So in this respect I am thankful that Internet access has not been poured out into our community. This might be a narrow perspective but it is from my exposure to the Internet. There is information on the Internet, but common information such as journals are still not accessible from a home computer unless you pay extra for that service which runs into the hundreds. From my perspective the information that is on the Internet can easily be found at a library without the harmful exposure to pornography.

Mary - I think it would be beneficial, especially for young kids, because it will give them an opportunity to access a world of learning as well as enhance their technological skills. Poorer communities already had a disadvantage educationally, now they will be disadvantaged in technology if their children are not aware of the power of computers and the internet.

Rico - Yes, it would be beneficial, but not as a way to empower the poor, but rather to help middle class and other social mobile individuals compete in the world marketplace.

Nate - Yes, I work with urban Latino youth and see the pride and self esteem that exist when they see their country "on the computer." Last year we attempted to do Web pages with the kids (writing in html no less) it would have been more effective if we had more than one computer with access. Latinos in the US would be able to catch up with the information age with computer access, job searches etc.. and attempt to do things for themselves.

Enrique - Yes. Kind of like TV. If kids in poor communities could see the possibilities of what's out there then maybe they'd be motivated to seek that out. Many kids never even leave their barrio. The Internet allows them to do that.

Maria - Yes. It would be beneficial because it would provide them with the information technology that they are not exposed to. But it would NOT bring them together.

Sofia - Yes. With the educational monopoly unbroken access to and instruction for technology is limited. Literacy must be developed to a functional capacity in order to be able to use technology capably.

Alberto - Yes. Because the better you know your roots and keep an own identity the better you can interact and accept mainstream US culture, as we learn that we have plenty in common. We certainly contribute to the wealth of US mainstream culture as American culture is an evolution of several European cultural expressions, where the Spanish heritage has an equal foot.

Yvonne - Yes. It opens the world to people with limited resources. Not only can the Internet increase the interaction among Latinos, but also between Latinos and other cultures that will enrich us all. Besides, there are many educational opportunities on the Internet that could be too expensive and out of reach for low income Latinos. The Internet has the potential to close the gap in terms of access to information between the different socioeconomic groups in the US.

Carlo - Yes. It will provide access to school papers, projects, and provide opportunities to learn from Hispanics that are model citizens.

Lolia - Yes, because children as well as adults will be able to learn about other Latinos Ð their needs and problems as well as the accomplishments of Latinos, therefore making these children strive for a better future.

Rudy - Yes. Email is the killer app. of the past, present and future. I have two Chicano junior highers in my youth program who are learning, right now, to use email, and it is blowing their minds. We don't have email access at my center. We go three blocks to the local Urban League. Already these kids' metaphors are switching to email-based images, and they are slowly expanding their vision of the world beyond Mexican soccer and their mom's cooking. So they don't even need a computer in their home to have their minds blown and expanded.


Question sixteen was asked to find out what kind of support there is for Internet access projects in poor neighborhoods. The vast majority of the responses are overwhelmingly positive. The only exception is Anne, who seems to be concerned mostly with the effects of access to pornography. Several of the respondents mentioned that the Internet is not only a place for Latino communities to find educational opportunities, but learning about other Latino groups and finding sources of cultural heritage were also important ways that access could be beneficial. I personally hope that advocacy for access projects in poor communities becomes a priority for community leaders and researchers alike.

----- Question Seventeen: Cultural Identity

17. Lastly, please describe your cultural identity, what you think it is and what influences it.

Rich - My upbringing influenced it up to a certain point. (teen years) From then on, it was up to me to decide whether I wanted to identify myself as a Latino or not. I grew up with the culture, I liked it, and so I'll continue to identify myself with it. But I was born in the United States. I am an American, first and foremost. Nothing is more important than that. I grew up here. I grew up liking rock and alternative music. I love hamburgers and fries, hot dogs, baseball, football, basketball, anything that you may label as being "American." So I am Hispanic second to being American (whatever that is). Everyone likes to identify with something. "I'm this and that." "My parents are this and that." So that's what I'm doing. That's what Americans are. A freakin' mix.

Anna - I'm a Hispanic.. second generation and born to parents who where born and raised in Mexico and migrated to the US at a young age. Thus, I am a Hispanic/American born in the US. This identity means I'm a practicing Hispanic woman in a American society Ð following the rules and norms of this country. My influences are my parents who constantly remind me of using proper Spanish, and remind me I'm first a Hispanic and all else the secondary.

Mary - My cultural identity is Puerto Rican. It is everything that I am and that I will be. My identity comes primarily form my family, living community and friends. I know that my culture is a mixture of many, which is why I love to learn more about it.

Rico - I'm a fourth generation American of Mexican heritage. I'm Mexican American, Tejano if you will. I'm most heavily influenced by my community in Texas, their styles and tastes and those of more recent immigrants and other factors.

Nate - Puerto Rican, nuyorican (I don't know if I understand this question)It is greatly influenced by my surroundings currently with many other Latinos, while when I was younger a mostly white area.

Enrique - I'm a little Tejanito. A Chicano of a unique flavor in that we have our Texas nationalistic pride. I don't think any other Mexican-American has as much nationalistic pride as a Tejano. What influences it is that pride, the color of my skin, the mixture of the English and Spanish languages, and the interactions I have with both Latino and non-Latino people.

Maria - I am Puerto Rican Ð we are three cultures in one, African, Taino & Spaniard. I represent a history of people, and of continuous struggles. What influences it are the characteristics that all three cultures have contributed into the Puerto Rican - those being the language, sense of family, diversity, and of course the politics of our being.

Sofia - I am a Mestiza. A (Chicano(Mexican(American female)

Alberto - I feel culturally a prototype of the Western person of the future, where national boundaries or allegiances are elements of limited political value, but where ideas might be expressed in different languages to stress the diversity of heritages as shaped by history, while building a new society under new parameters of "values", to communicate the same universal values we discover that we share. It is through my knowledge of my own tradition and cultural values that I get the needed basis and support upon which I can build a richer culture, because I can better understand others, when I know who I am and where I come from. Satellite TV and instant news, borderless inexpensive communication, travel facilities, the global economy, the environment, ecology... definitely influence my cultural identity from tribal/national identification to a larger and broader world view of universal values that I must express locally in my own language, whatever that happens to be.

Yvonne - I am a Puerto Rican. That is my cultural identity. My identity is influenced by my birthplace, the place and the way I was raised, the language that I use with my family, the food and music we prefer, and the traditions that we maintain.

Carlo - I am culturally identified, but not limited to the Hispanic culture (Caribbean Basin). Itself, it is mixture of different races (Spanish, Black, Arabs, Chinese, etc.) Hard worker people, happy by nature, traditionally deprived of adequate resources and opportunities.

Lolia - I am 100% pure Dominican. This is that we as a Caribbean island have lots of pride in it whether or not we were born there or here it is in the blood and genes. It is just my heritage my grandfather always said to me "remember where you come from and you will always know where you are headed." Since he told me those words they have been stuck in my head since. As long as one has and inner conflict such as to what ones identity is one cannot move forward thus impairing ones capabilities of success.

Rudy - I am a second-generation (born in the US., mother born in Mexico) Chicano, Mexican-American, born in L.A. and still living here. I am an American. I am a Mexican, though I am probably more Latino/Hispanic than Mexican, culturally. Many Mexicans, especially immigrants and their young children, identify not with pan-ethnic terms but with their country of origin. As we become more Americanized, acculturated, it's easier for us to attach ourselves to pan-ethnic labels. Foremost, however, is my identity as a Christian. I call myself a Christian first, a follower of Jesus Christ. Then comes my identity as a Latino/Chicano. Even then, I identify with the fullness of my Latino roots. My wife is African-American, and I identify openly with the African lineage I have because I am a Mexican (given that Mexican is not a race, but a mixture, mestizaje, of many races, including European, native American/Indian, Asian and African).


The responses to these questions reveal how ethnicity and collective group resistance identification are closely integrated what people feel their cultural identity is. For most of those born in Latin America, cultural identity was tied directly that heritage and culture. The responses for those born in the USA illustrated how multiple identifications with different groups, US Latinos, Mexicans (coming from family heritage), "America," and Christians, as examples, are uniquely integrated in feelings of personal and cultural identity.

Participant Biographical Profiles ----- "Rich" Currently lives in Philadelphia, PA. School - Long Island, NY - Home Born in Mineola, NY. 1978. Middle class. Single. No children Spanish use - frequently. In college.

---- "Anna" Current lives at Beale Air Force Base California. Born - Eagle Pass, Texas in 1965 Middle class. Married with children. Education- BA. Reads Spanish sometimes

---- "Mary" Currently lives in Boston. Born in Mass. in 1977. Lower middle class. Single with no children. In college. Frequently uses Spanish.

---- "Rico" Currently lives in Austin, Tx. Born in Houston in 1963. Middle class. Single w/o children. Education - MBA. Sometimes uses Spanish.

---- "Nate" Currently lives in Boston. Born in Wash. DC in 1967. Lower middle class. Education- MA. Uses Spanish sometimes.

----- "Enrique" Currently lives in Austin Texas. Born in Texas in 1968. Lower middle class. Single w/o children. College degree. Uses Spanish sometimes.

----- "Maria" Asked for personal information not to be included.

---- "Sofia" Currently living in Milwaukee. Born in Chicago in 1951. Middle class. Divorced w/ 2 children. Education - BS. Sometimes uses Spanish.

---- "Alberto" Born in the Dominican Republic in 1952. Upper middle class. Divorced with two children. Education - masters degree.

----- "Yvonne" Born in Puerto Rico in 1944. Middle class. Widow w/ children. Ph.D.. Uses Spanish frequently.

---- "Carlo" Currently lives in Arizona. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1949. Married with children. Education - MD & MBA.

---- "Lolia" Currently lives in Baltimore Maryland. Born in Santiago, Dominican Republic in 1976. Middle class. Single w/o children. In college. Uses Spanish frequently.

---- "Rudy" Currently lives in Los Angeles. Born in California in 1967. Middle class. Married w/o children. Education - BA. Uses Spanish sometimes.


VI. Implications and Conclusions

One of the purposes of this research was to gather concepts and data with which to suggest possible elements of a theoretical framework that can be applied to the study of cultural uses of new, networked information and communication technologies. This chapter discusses the implications of the research conducted for this thesis, while at the same time attempting to offer the beginnings of such as framework by drawing on concepts of collective and cultural identity, television/media use, and the data gathered in the pilot survey. These suggestions for a theoretical framework will hopefully be helpful for future studies of Internet use and implications.

Perhaps the most distinguished characteristic of Internet technologies that is fundamental to the understanding their use is the accessibility, and sometimes almost simultaneous influences, of multiple encoding and decoding environments. No members of the survey group, for example, reported using less than two of the many technologies available via the Internet. After all, almost all people who go online use both email and the Web (Graphics, Visualization, & Usability Center, 1997a). In the same way that television use cannot be understood outside of social viewing contexts, the use of one Internet technology cannot be understood outside of other Internet technologies commonly used by the same individual. This is particularly true since many probably use more than one technology during each "sitting" or session at a networked computer.

For Internet use, mediations of texts can take place in both the local environment of use and in the social environments of cyberspace. Dialogue in chat rooms, discussion forums, and email can mediate interpretations of cultural texts accessed through various Internet technologies. All of the survey respondents who viewed the Web as a significant source of cultural information also reported cultural and personal gratifications and uses for communication with other US Latinos through email and other technologies. Furthermore, simultaneous usage of Internet technologies is possible and can greatly influence the mediation of texts. For example, multimedia cyber-events are increasingly common phenomena on the Internet. Cyber-events are organized and designed for any number of purposes and often entail a live presentation, such as multicast audio broadcast of a concert or speech sent out over the Internet, with chat rooms and discussion forums set up for Internet users to participate. The chapter on television illustrated how groups can develop common uses of media. Scholars refer to this as "social uses."

Members of virtual communities do engage in types of social uses such as maintenance of a collective identity shared with other members of virtual communities. The survey results show that communication with other US Latinos for the purpose of sharing personal experiences and ideas about Latinos has been a valuable use of Internet technologies for most of the respondents. These types of "social uses" might be somewhat different than how this term has been defined in the study of other media audiences. The various types of social uses of new, networked information and communication technologies need to be analyzed, defined and understood through future research.

While a framework for understanding cultural uses of Internet technologies must account for a multiplicity and conglomeration of encoding/decoding environments, the concepts of dominant, negotiated and oppositional decodings are still primary and vital models to be used. The nature of the decoding of virtual texts is particularly tied to collective and personal identity, as are the choices that users make concerning which cultural spaces to access via Internet technologies. The data from the survey illustrates how perceptions of personal and cultural identity are integrated within the individual. Although Castells' theory of collective identity formation can help with some understandings of cultural uses of the Internet, the data shows how cultural identity is uniquely manifested in personal perceptions and Internet uses. The survey data supports the idea that cultural uses of Internet technologies are driven by collective group identification, the strength and perceptions of cultural identity (mostly established during youth) and other aspects of personal identity and personality. All of the respondents felt some sort of identification as a US Latino. This identity, as well as identification with particular US Latino groups (like Mexican-Americans) can be understood well within Castells' concept of resistance identity. This idea, although useful and not overly complex, however, has not progressed to the point of describing the different cultural and social mechanisms that foster a collective identity for a group as heterogeneous as US Latinos are.

As discussed in Chapter Three, both US Latino media and Spanish-language television can be seen as this sort of mechanism. The survey data shows that the use of Internet technologies can also be a mechanism for developing and maintaining parts of a collective or pan-ethnic US Latino identity. Acculturation into a broader US Latino collective identity and culture through different mechanisms such as Spanish-language television and Internet use has been referred to as Latinoization throughout this thesis. Rico, for example, writes that the Internet "helps mend or strengthen the ties between people of diverse national origins Ð helping bridge the gap between the 3 largest groups, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans."

While identity as a US Latino may be affirmed and maintained, this does not mean that cultural identity linked to heritage is weekened for the individual. Answers to the last survey question show that respondents feel that cultural identity is for them closely tied to ethnicity and family upbringing. Those respondents who were born in Latin American countries (the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) did in fact have the highest use of Latin American sites. For Latinos born in the US, absence of cultural and family ties to Latin America might facilitate the development of greater identification to US Latino culture. Rudy's answer on his cultural identity offers this insight: "

Many Mexicans, especially immigrants and their young children, identify not with pan-ethnic terms but with their country of origin. As we become more Americanized, acculturated, it's easier for us to attach ourselves to pan-ethnic labels." Yet, the results of the survey did show that cultural identity for most of the US born respondents was not only influenced by pan-ethnic identification as US Latinos, but also to specific ethnic origins. Several of these respondents, for example, highlighted the importance of their Mexican heritage. Overall there is more evidence from the survey results that illustrates the use of Internet technologies for development and maintenance of collective group identity than for cultural identity maintenance per se, but this latter process seems to be occurring as well. At a number of junctions, several survey respondents mentioned the importance of Latinos having Internet access as a way to get in touch with aspect of cultural heritage. In many ways cultural heritage and cultural identity are one in the same. Thus, this use of Internet technologies is likely realized some individuals and groups that go online.

There are many motivations for media use that are not only tied to collective identity but also to personal interests, behavior and lifestyles. The results show that some who use new, networked information and communication technologies will be enthusiastic and engaged by the vast potential for cultural expression, representation and different types of cultural communication available. Other users are likely not feel this way, whether they have strong cultural and resistance identities or not. It is therefore important to also note that a theoretical framework for studying and understanding Internet uses should not be over-determined.

Although, most uses of media and networked technologies are part of cultural processes and exchange, the influences of Internet use for cultural and personal identity maintenance probably vary greatly. A few of the survey respondents, for example, did not feel that Internet use was really that important for cultural expression and interaction with US Latinos and culture. Many are perhaps used to fulfilling these processes through local social involvement with community, friends, family and domestic media consumption. While much of the most exciting cultural projects flowering on the Net are the work of enthusiasts, we must also focus on those who only connect once or twice a week by finding out whether these users participate in cultural communication (and how and why they do so). Thus, a theoretical framework for understanding cultural uses of the Internet should recognize and seek to explore a wide gamut of social and individual uses.

Along with resistance identity, Castells' other concepts of collective identity construction, particularly project identity, can be useful in this framework when considering cultural uses of Internet technologies. Some postmodernists, such as Donna Haraway posit that individuals are creating postmodern identities in cyberspace (Haraway, 1991). They see the potential for cultural reproduction and personal identity development as offering mechanisms for personal liberation from social and cultural constrains on self-identification. Some members of marginalized groups who are active in cyberspace may be building new project identities as opposed to maintaining resistance identities. Many Internet users engage in virtual communities of interest and virtual identity groups where they can experiment with issues of identity (Bradlee, 1993).

To reiterate, Castells' defines project identity as a processes where social actors, using the cultural materials available to them, "build a new identity that redefines their position in society and, by doing so, seek the transformation of overall social structure" (Castells:8). It is difficult to say if a certain respondent might be engaged in a process of building a project identity, but it is certainly possible that many US Latinos who are deconstructing and hybridizing the diverse notions of US Latino identity, may be participating in this type of project. In some cases, the conscious construction of new identifications with US Latino people and culture through the use of Internet technologies may signify the development of project identities. For these individuals and groups, Internet technologies may be used to facilitate conscious hybridization of cultural texts which are reproduced according the preferences and particularities of project identities. If more in-depth data was collected on each participant in the pilot study, it might have been possible to speculate on the nature of individual identities.

Longitudinal studies of project and virtual group identities are needed to assess their longevity and effects on daily concepts of self outside of cyberspace. In fact, cultural consumption via the Net has gotten to the point where scholars must look at the effects of Internet use. While identity helps drive use, uses will likely also have some effects on identity. People can chose from a huge range of cultural products with which to explore the nature and boundaries of their interests and identities. But will they take these experimental identities back to the real-world or leave them in cyberspace? This question reiterates the need for a theoretical framework to recognize and seek to better understand the interaction between virtual and real-world practices and environments. Studies with multiple research methods are needed to get at different uses and socializations in cyberspace that are driven by personal and cultural identity, while positing how virtual decodings impact personal identity and behavior. Yet, returning to this research, the surveys suggest that changes to collective identity do last, however. Enrique, for example, reveals that originally, "My identity, was Mexican. But through interaction with other Latinos that weren't of Mexican descent, my world view and personal identity changed to that of calling myself Latino. Before, I never would have called myself that."

A framework for understanding cultural uses of the Internet must also seek to understand how long term uses of new, networked technologies affect processes of enculturation and acculturation. This is particularly true for children who are growing up using the Internet. The diversity, range of viewpoints and communication options available can certainly be seen as threatening the cultural power and homogenization power of mainstream media. Will the networked generations of the near future build cultural and personal identification partially through Internet use Ð the same way some of us did/do with television? How does Internet use and the proliferation of cultures online and virtual communities challenge the cultural power of television? The proliferation of Internet use may also have an effect on legitimizing identity, with children of the dominant society increasingly using technologies that offer access to such a diversity of view-points.

In Chapter Three, I hypothesized that dominant television channels, in general, are more important to the construction of legitimizing identity and mainstream cultural identity for members of the dominant society than for the construction of resistance identity for other marginalized groups. The myths and framing of reality in mainstream television cater to the cultural and social biases of many members of dominant societies. Several of the survey participants remarked that through sampling diverse US Latino Web sites, and through communication via other technologies, the various Latino peoples in the USA are able to learn about their similarities and differences. "For the first time, persons of different education and backgrounds, but with a common language and common interest (curiosity about the limitless possibility of the Internet), are learning to establish a dialog based on ideas, interests, prejudices (or the lack of), without boundaries of a geographical nature or a time/framework" (Alberto). These persons that Alberto is referring to can be US Latinos or individuals that occupy many different social and cultural positions. It is possible that members of mainstream society who seek identification in cyberspace, may be helping to disengage their collective identities from the mechanisms that help maintain legitimizing identity (such as mainstream television).

Besides Hall's conceptualizations of the encoding/decoding process, other ideas presented in the chapter on television use can also be used to understand cultural processes that take place during the use of Internet technologies. In that chapter, some of Douglas Kellner's work was described for what it suggests about the role of television in the production and distribution of social myths and mythologies. It seems obvious that Internet technologies, particularly the Web, can and also serve similar functions. Yet, if this is so, some of what our survey results illustrate about Web use imply that these new virtual myths might function very differently than those offered by commercial television industries. Perhaps the biggest difference is that commercial television myths and mythologies are produced with encodings designed to provoke decodings that conform to the dominant ideologies of mainstream society and capitalism. The motive for commercial text production is profit. These texts are essentially cultural products that reproduce the dominant motifs and ideologies of mainstream society.

If you think about cultural texts that function as myths, what they are doing is telling stories about things that happen in a society, but with a particular bias. They create certain situations conforming to mainstream world views Ð often with a conflict which is resolved. They also chose their characters and situations according to what they (as writers and producers) think most (or many) members of the dominant society want to consume. Thus, according to this logic groups marginalized in a society are also marginalized by most media myths. Yet with the Internet, there is more room for the myths of the marginalized, people of different identity and cultural groups, to offer their personalized myths. In the myriad of virtual cultural spaces, there is no single logic or motive which determines how a text is framed. The survey respondents were aware of the marginalized status of Latino representations in the mainstream US media and also found the Internet to offer main alternatives to those inadequate spaces. Rico referred to the Internet as "a source of information and sharing not found in the mainstream media." Personal and group Web pages are often used to publish what can be considered modern myths in the form of narratives and poems - stories of US Latino experiences, culture and personal interests and fantasies. What is being illustrated is the use of Internet technologies for cultural reproduction.

The power of myth, does not lie in its fictional character (after all, the reality of a myth is decided by individual or group beliefs and world views). Rather what makes them important is that they tell us about the nature of ourselves and the nature of others. As Nate writes, "on the Web we are able to create and share our realities and struggles." The power of US Latino Web pages, and cultural uses of networked information and communication technologies, is that Latinos can offer their own cultural reproductions and others can access and use these texts as they wish. Yvonne values the Web because it allows Latinos to "share our cultural heritage." "It is a source of pride," she writes, "to read about what other Latinos are doing and about the cultural activities taking place in different communities. It is also a way to expand networks among Latinos and to keep our cultural traditions alive." For Nate, using a Web page as a site for cultural reproduction allows him to "share what I know about my culture and politics and to spread the word."

The results of the survey have shown, as illustrated by Nate and Yvonne, that cultural communication, group networking and cultural reproduction, are some of the most significant cultural uses of new, networked information and communication technologies. All of the survey respondents are participants in a virtual community of US Latinos. They have sought out representations of Latino cultures and communication with other US Latinos because they (in different ways) value these interactions. The research conducted for this thesis has offered a limited understanding of how personal and collective identity and cultural uses of Internet technologies are intertwined and has questioned what the differences between encoding/decoding environments possible for Internet technologies and those common with television consumption might imply for the future effects of new media use on identity and culture. One final area that this thesis has neglected so far is the political-economy of the architecture, infrastructure, hardware and software that make the networked information and communication technologies of the Internet possible. The development of these technologies are driven by corporate telecommunications and computer industries. Future research must assess how this situation influences the cultural uses and environments that people engage via new, networked information and communication technologies.

Lastly, there are several observations about the limitations of this thesis research that I would like to mention. The pilot survey itself was in some ways very successful, since many interesting and useful responses were gathered with it. Yet, considering that this thesis focused on cultural and identity issues, I think that more information on each respondent's background, world-view and specific uses of Internet technologies, would have enabled me to answer the research question more thoroughly. Overall, however, this study should be helpful for preliminary understandings of how and why individuals and groups use networked communication technologies for cultural purposes. The information gathered should be utilized for future research of Internet uses and policy considerations of access projects for marginalized communities. If networked information and communication technologies continue to be the exclusive privilege of the (relatively) wealthy, then the Internet will facilitate marginalization for poor groups rather than offering many cultural, educational and political uses.

VII. References

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VIII. Appendix A. Survey Email Used for Pilot Study

---- Hello/Hola, again.

Below is the survey that I am using for my thesis. The time it takes to complete it could vary depending on how long you want to take to do it. Twenty to thirty minutes might be a good suggested time, but more or less is fine. If you feel stimulated to write at length to answer some questions, that is great. If you can complete the survey and return it by next week sometime, that would also be great.

Thanks again for your participation. I will send you the URL of my finished thesis if you indicate that you are interested at the end of the survey. At the end of the survey you must chose a level of confidentiality. I have specified several levels. By choosing a level and returning the completed survey to me (as a reply email) you are giving me your permission to use the information you provide according to the level of confidentiality that you chose.


1. What US Latino/Hispanic media do you use regularly?
a) magazines b) television c)newspapers d) radio

2. Do you use US Spanish-language media?
a) not at all b) sometimes c) frequently

2.1. If so, what Spanish-language media do you use? (chose those that apply)
a) magazines b) television c) newspapers d) radio e) list others

3. Do you consider Spanish-language television to be a viable cultural resource?

3.1. If so, why?

4. Do you feel that your culture, the cultural background and heritage that you and your family identify with are marginalized or underrepresented within the mainstream culture in the US? Please explain.

5. How many years have you been using the Internet?

6. From where do you have/get Internet access?
a) home b) work c) library d) friend(s) e)list other

7. Do you have a personal or group web page?

7.1. If so what is the URL?

8. What kind of content have you put on your Web page?

8.1. Is your Web page important to you as a site for cultural expression?

8.2. Why or why not?

9. Have you visited Web pages created by and for Latinos? Why?

9.1. What is the cultural significance of Web pages created by and for Latinos?

10. Have you interacted with other US Latinos via the Internet?

10.1. What specific Internet technologies have you used to do this? (email, listserves, the Web, etc)

10.2. Why are these interactions important to you? (culturally and otherwise)

11. Of the Latino oriented Web sites that you use (or have used), what percentage would you estimate are US sites, verses sites originating within Latin American countries?

12. Do you use the Internet to communicate with people who live in Latin America?

13. Do you think that interaction with people and (Web) sites from Latin America influences your cultural identity? How so?

14. Has your perception of Latino communities and culture in the US been influenced by your Internet use?

15. How has your identification with these cultures been influenced by your Internet use?

16. Do you think Internet access projects in poorer Latino communities could be beneficial? Why or why not?

17. Lastly, please describe your cultural identity, what you think it is and what influences it.

Personal Demographics-

Current city/area of residence:

Place of Birth:

Year of Birth:

Economic class. Do you consider yourself-
a) poor b) lower middle class c) middle class d) upper middle class e)wealthy

Do you speak or read Spanish?
a)never b)sometimes c)frequently

Marriage Status:

Do you have any children?

Highest level of formal education:

Would you like for me to send you the URL for the results of this research when it is up on the web?

Part 2. Anonymity

When my thesis is completed, I plan to publish it on the Web so that a wider population can access it. I will honor any level of anonymity that you want. Please select a level of anonymity for the information that you are providing. Regardless of the level you chose, there are several procedures that I will go through to insure the privacy of your identity and the information that you are providing. Once I have finished with your survey it will be deleted from my mail server and from my hard-drive. Thanks.

Level One - No anonymity at all. Potentially all of the information you give me including email address, Web address and personal information could be on the web.

Level Two - I will use a pseudonym instead of your real name, but might include your email address, and Web page URL.

Level Three - I will use a pseudonym and no email address or web URL. Your answers may be used and available on the web under the false name.

Level Four - I will use a pseudonym for you. Your email address and web URL will not be used. I will para-phrase anything I write about your answers, and I will not make your specific answers accessible on the web.

Please specify the level you would like here:

Any preferred pseudonym?

Please include any other parameters that would like me to follow.

This is the end of the survey. Thanks again for your participation.

IX. Appendix B. Internet Terms [16]

Computer-mediated communication (CMC). Computer-mediated communication is any person-to-person communication that is conducted over large physical and/or perceptual distances using computer and telecommunications technology and limited to the exchange of alphanumeric words and images.

Cyberspace. The term cyberspace, which originates from the William Gibson science fiction novel Neuromancer, refers to the conceptual space occupied by people using CMC technology.

Flame. A flame is a piece of electronic mail or a Usenet article, the content of which is violently argumentative or critical.

Internet. The Internet is a concatenation of many individual campus, state, regional and national networks (such as the National Science Foundation's NSFnet, the U.S. Defense Department's ARPAnet, and the U.S. Army's Milnet) into one single logical network, all sharing a common addressing scheme.

Lurking. Refers to the act of viewing other peoples' conversations in a usenet room (for example) but not participating yourself.

MUDs. This stands for Multi-User Dungeons, which are text-based technologies that allow users from different locations to participate in a common game or text-based world (through CMC), where they can interact with other users who are logged onto the host computer. Generally the environments are game oriented.

Surfing. Browsing through different sites and pages on the World Wide Web.

Usenet. Usenet is an international network of machines that exchange articles categorized into a number of different topic areas known as news groups.

Virtual community. A virtual community is a social aggregation that emerges in a CMC environment when enough people carry on public discussions for long periods of time with significant amounts of human feeling, thus forming webs of personal relationships that exist in cyberspace (Rheingold, 1993).

X. Appendix C. Sample Web page

The following pages are a printout of the index section of Susanna Gallardo's Web site:

Gallardo, S. A Chicana Feminist Hompage. [Hompage of Susanna Gallardo], [Online]. Available: [3-25-98].


[1] This work also shows how local English-language newscasts in urban areas with large Latino populations, such as Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have made efforts to enhance their coverage of these communities, especially when faced with competition from Spanish-language channels.

[2] The 1990 census has been criticized for under estimating the number of Latinos living in the US.

[3] Oboler is criticizing the US Census Bureau, Population Division, Development of the Race and Ethnic Items for the 1990 Census, 51.

[4] All I am saying here is that many Latino journalist and politicians seek greater political unity of Latino groups, and the commercial television aim at Latinos seek to draw at the commonalties of these groups to gather the largest possible audience for advertisers.

[5] The research referred to here is: (Rios and Gains, 1996). These researchers, for the purpose of a study of US Latino's uses of television, defined "low Latin American Heritage" as those in their study who had been born in the USA or who had lived in the USA a significant number of years.

[6] Typically, the principal, or first, project of modernity has been considered by scholars as being the uses of power apparatuses by the state for the purpose of creating a modernized "nation-state." Thus, the increasing domination of transnational capitalists' interests over the autonomy and efficacy of national state governments, has sparked theories of a new era of late- or post-modernity. (Some areas of scholarship, however, offer much different explanations of what postmodernity is, or might be).

[7] The use of the term "cultural industry" has been established in communication literature to emphasize the dominate role that communication industries such as television, music, magazines, radio, etc...have now assumed in manipulating, recycling, and creating cultural symbols.

[8] Melissa Johnson offers some of the following resources on acculturation research: See Kim, Y.Y. (1977). Communication patterns of foreign immigrants in the process of acculturation. Human Communication Research, 4 (1), 66-77. See also , Berry, J.W. (1980). "Acculturation as varieties of adaptation." In A.M. Padilla (ed.) Acculturation Theory. models and some new findings , 9-25. Boulder, CO:Westview.

[9] These processes of cultural production and expression occur at the individual and group levels. Artwork, reenactment of celebrations and rituals, story-telling, and many other forms can be included here although the focus of my thesis cultural production via Internet use.

[10] See Hall, 1980.

[11] Investment for the Spanish-language stations was limited by FCC regulations to only permit 20% ownership and investment by foreigner interests. SIN however, since it was a provider of television content, and not itself a broadcaster with a license, was able to be completely funded by Azcarraga before it began to become more profitable in the 70s. There is no US law against foreign ownership of television networks (content providers).

[12] See Johnson, 1996.

[13] These are only among the most common communication technologies available by using the internet. See Appendix B, Internet Terms.

[14] Commercial domains are World Wide Web domain names with the commercial (".com") signature. Domains are areas of the Web with their own name. For example,, and are all distinct domains.

[15] The term Òhorizontal communicationÓ refers to communication not based in power inequalities based on social status due to position, gender, age, ethnic background, etc...which might be called Òhierarchical communication.Ó This term will emerge latter in the paper when discussing computer-mediated communication research and the theories of Paulo Freire.

[16] Several of these definitions are adapted from: Overby, Bruce. Identification and Validation of a Societal Model of Usenet. [Homepage of Bruce Overby], [Online]. Available: [3-8-97].