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The Flow Between Spaces: The Experiences of International Doctoral Candidates Negotiation and Construction of Professional Identity on Social Media

Flax, Tracey Naomi (2019) The Flow Between Spaces: The Experiences of International Doctoral Candidates Negotiation and Construction of Professional Identity on Social Media. EdD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This doctoral thesis explores the experiences and practices of seven international doctoral candidates in the UK use social media for professional identity development. It analyses, too, what challenges (if any) are encountered navigating personal and professional selves on social media, and how such issues are navigated. Addressing such issues involved knowledge of social media, doctoral education, professional identity development, and international learners’ experiences. Doctoral education is a period of becoming and negotiating new environments, roles, expectations, and attitudes. Along this path, a greater sense of personal and professional self is expected to develop. For international doctoral candidates, however, this process is fraught with unique and complex challenges as they develop their identity between the intersections of doctoral study and cross-cultural communities. Vertovec (1999) concept of transnationalism and Castells (1996) networked society were used to understand the motivation, social interactions, and identity development of international doctoral candidates’ practices on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A digital ethnography approach was employed to answer the research questions within the context of social media. Data collection entailed online observation of social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), and two rounds of interviews. The study found that international doctoral candidates appeared to be supporting the development of professional identity through belonging, strategic networking, mentoring, and professional branding on social media. Negotiating social media between cross-cultural communities led to complex issues of privacy, content collapse, imagined audience, and collective pressure. These issues were alleviated through compartmentalisation and controlling the online narrative. This calculated and self-directed approach to social media indicates that self-reflexivity, agency, and imagined-self were motivating factors in developing their professional identity in online social spaces. International doctoral candidates in this study demonstrated a favourable approach towards social media as a transnational space in which borders, identities, and notions of imagination become more fluid.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Keywords: Social Media, Digital Education, International Students, Professional Identity
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Education (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.806827
Depositing User: Unnamed user #19840
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2020 06:19
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2020 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/26507

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