With the emergence of social media that is interactive in nature, the concept of audience has changed to user. These media are global at the same time meaning they are necessary and possible, and anyone anywhere in the world can receive and produce content through them. Given the global nature of social media, they can be studied in the context of globalization theories. A set of theories principally derived from Marxist theories believe in a complete homogeneity of the globalized world. There is another theoretical approach which, while believing in the existence of homogeneities in globalization, stresses on the existence of a dialectic between particular and general matters, and considers the disappearance of all cultural and identity differences in globalization as a simplification of the problem (Golmohammadi, 2015:141-142). There are many ethnic identities in Iran. Nevertheless, which of the two theoretical approaches is being used by social media as a means of global communication is worth considering. Also, the paper will examine and analyze the coexistence of ethnic groups with global and national culture, the motive of ethnic separatism, the rethinking of ethnic groups and the presence or absence of motivation in them to resist global and national culture.
Considering the two different theoretical perspectives on globalization as well as the global and interactive nature of social media, this article intends to identify whether social media work to resolve cultural and identity differences of Iranian ethnic groups or they are being used by these ethnic groups to maintain and perpetuate themselves in different situations.
A qualitative approach and specifically the in-depth interview method have been used in the study. For that matter, eleven professors of social communication, anthropology and sociology were interviewed. For data analysis, MAXQDA 10 software was used and the findings were displayed in the form of clusters consisting of main categories and subcategories.
Seven main categories and related subcategories are derived from the interviews conducted on the subject. They include 1) preserving ethnic identity/globalization, 2) coexistence of ethnic groups with global culture, 3) coexistence of ethnic groups with other nationalities, 4) limited role of social media in ethnic separatism, 5) ethnic rethinking, 6) the little motivation of ethnic groups to resist global culture, and 7) the low motivation of ethnic groups to act against nationality. Social media have a dual function both in preserving and perpetuating Iranian ethnic identities and in some cases influencing them to global culture. Social media though have been effective in the coexistence of ethnic groups with global culture and nationality but were not enough. The issue of ethnic separatism has little to do with social media; rather it is related to political and economic factors. These media have been effective in ethnic rethinking but still are not enough, and even ethnic groups' motivation to resist global and national culture is limited in social media.
As a whole, the result of the research is close to specific and general dialectics theories that believe in complete cultural homogeneity of the globalized world. As global cultural generalities spread in the current world of globalization, so did cultural specificities that have brought into fore dialectic between specific and general matters. While social media have caused the Iranian ethnic groups to maintain and perpetuate their identity components, they are also influenced by global culture at the same time; a situation indicative of a cultural integration. The social media environment is soft and discourse in this regard and causes cultural coexistence rather than animosities. The motive for separatism in Iranian ethnic groups is more due to political and economic factors than to social media. Social media have also been effective in rethinking those ethnic beliefs and customs that have been wrong, although other institutions must make efforts in this regard. These media pave the way for Iranian ethnic groups to resist global and national culture, but ethnic motives for doing so are limited. Iran is a multicultural country and non-attention to cultural pluralism can lead at least some ethnic groups to centrifugal tendencies, so it is necessary to increase the media literacy of users on the one hand and policy on strengthening cultural plurality on the other.
The discussion of Iranian ethnic groups and social media has been studied taking into account the deepening method. Social media is relatively short-lived compared to the mainstream media, and the question of the way these ethnic groups are used in terms of whether they will be resolved in a global culture or that their interactive nature preserves and perpetuates ethnicity constitutes the innovative aspect of this article. The results of the research can be useful for media professionals, cultural policy makers, in particular and related cultural and political officials, in general.