Tobechukwu Nneli

Thesis Title: Diaspora Social Media Use and State Legitimacy in Nigeria

Abstract: With an estimated population of over 215 million, Nigeria has one of the most established diaspora communities globally. These Nigerians (estimated to be about 15 million) often send money home to support their loved ones and other socio-economic development initiatives in their communities. However, evidence from academic literature suggest that beyond remittances, the Nigerian diaspora are also interested in every-day politics (including election campaigns and separatist agitations) in their home country. This project examines the extent to which diaspora Nigerians have or can do this by exploring the link between diaspora politics, social media, and citizens’ perception of state legitimacy in Nigeria using Igbo people, one of Nigeria’s main ethnic groups, as a case study. Specifically, the study seeks to understand historical and cultural factors that shape citizens’ perceptions of state legitimacy; interrogate debates on how social media provides agency for citizens at home and in the diaspora to engage themselves and the state; explore how such relations determine political/development outcomes in the home country; and assess how these are applicable in Nigeria. By selecting a highly politically active diaspora (such as the Igbo diaspora) as a case study and by focusing on how they use social media to engage in political debates at home, this study will make an original contribution to theoretical debates on citizenship, diaspora relations, political communication, and state legitimacy. Additionally, the study could highlight lessons for governments and policy communities given the increasing role that social media plays in politics and political behaviour; and as diaspora relations have become quite central to state ambitions and policymaking.

First Supervisor: Dr Portia Roelofs

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