The aim of this study was to understand the role of viral narratives and the involvement of social media into the invention of tradition. We took as an example the recently highly promoted Ivan-chaj, a tea made from the fermented leaves of willowherb, a plant little known and used in Europe until a few years ago. Relying on a wide variety of sources circulating on the Internet (videos, various texts and visuals) and robust empirical field research results, we used mixed methods to analyze this specific case in order to understand if people adopt new teachings and if their acceptance leads to practical output. The results showed that the new teachings spread quickly, supported by narratives based on a wide variety of interaction points that viralized the message, also causing an economic impact. It is clear that the change of status and the economic success that Ivan-chaj now enjoys is due to the virality of the narrative, which has reshaped the image of Ivan-chaj from an "outcast" imitation and tea substitute into the national healthy drink. Having appeared in Russia, mostly as a Russian cultural marker, the narrative went viral and spread beyond its borders where neighbors have tried in turn to embrace Ivan-chaj as their own cultural marker by proclaiming it a local tradition. Indeed, narratives regarding Ivan-chaj spread easily in countries sharing some linguistic, historical and/or cultural elements with Russia (via the nexus of the Soviet Union).

Re-written narrative: transformation of the image of Ivan-chaj in Eastern Europe

PrakofyevaY.
;
Belichenko O.;Kolosova V.;Soukand R.
2020-01-01

Abstract

The aim of this study was to understand the role of viral narratives and the involvement of social media into the invention of tradition. We took as an example the recently highly promoted Ivan-chaj, a tea made from the fermented leaves of willowherb, a plant little known and used in Europe until a few years ago. Relying on a wide variety of sources circulating on the Internet (videos, various texts and visuals) and robust empirical field research results, we used mixed methods to analyze this specific case in order to understand if people adopt new teachings and if their acceptance leads to practical output. The results showed that the new teachings spread quickly, supported by narratives based on a wide variety of interaction points that viralized the message, also causing an economic impact. It is clear that the change of status and the economic success that Ivan-chaj now enjoys is due to the virality of the narrative, which has reshaped the image of Ivan-chaj from an "outcast" imitation and tea substitute into the national healthy drink. Having appeared in Russia, mostly as a Russian cultural marker, the narrative went viral and spread beyond its borders where neighbors have tried in turn to embrace Ivan-chaj as their own cultural marker by proclaiming it a local tradition. Indeed, narratives regarding Ivan-chaj spread easily in countries sharing some linguistic, historical and/or cultural elements with Russia (via the nexus of the Soviet Union).
2020
6
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3729761
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