Remaining relevant in the digital age: the role of the writer in contemporary Russia (the case of Tat'iana Tolstaia)
The present thesis studies Facebook publication activity of a popular contemporary Russian writer, Tat'iana Tolstaia. I argue that her posting contributes to the development of social capital (Bourdieu, 1986) among her readers and that she uses certain strategies to build both bridging and bonding social capital (Putnam, 2000). My research demonstrates that for Tolstaia the development of social capital is means of "remaining relevant"� (Wachtel, 2006): it is her way to gain authority and social respect and, consequently, to remain popular and commercially successful despite the economic and socio-cultural changes in post-Soviet Russia that have negatively affected the social status of the writer. Tat'iana Tolstaia is a broadly recognized Russian writer who in recent years has largely turned from print to Internet literature. At present Tolstaia actively develops her Facebook account: she updates her page almost daily and posts texts and media content that concerns a broad range of topics. Her page has over 170 000 followers and is open to comments. As a result, the writer's timeline has become a virtual space for public discussion and, consequently, an instrument for building social capital. Tolstaia's posts aim to develop both bridging (inclusive) and bonding (exclusive) social capital. In some publications the writer attempts to unify with all of her readers and involve everyone in the discussion, in the others she demonstrates her belonging to a distinguished social group (Russian intellectuals). In the comments to such publications Tolstaia singles out few of her readers whom she considers worthy of belonging to the same group. As a result she creates a community of contemporary Russian intellectuals. In the first case her actions develop bridging social capital, while in the second the representatives of the group share bonding social capital.
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