This article entails a research study that describes the manner in which the rancheros, a population subgroup of the Mexican farmers, use language to communicate in Facebook and construct their identity. The larger Mexican society perceives the rancheros as a group that holds some contradictory ideas. In all the other Mexican subpopulations, the rancheros are considered the lowest social class, along with the indigenous Mexicans. Their status in society is manifested by the pejorative treatments that are directed to them by the larger society. The Mexican Government perceives the ranchero communities as the most dynamic in terms of their desire for private property ownership (such as land), geographical mobility, patriarchy, and endogamy (Christiansen 689). This study seeks to explore rancheros’ language use on Facebook and how they mockingly use Spanish terms to separate themselves from a traditional ranchero identity and construct their own new personalities. The essay reviews the work by Martha Sidury Christiansen, A Ondi Queras’: Ranchero Identity Construction by U.S. Born Mexicans on Facebook to meet the aim of the study.
Five participants who reside in Mexico, Chicago, and Michigan, and are considered part of the transnational social network were selected to participate in the study (Christiansen 692). Moreover, the selection of the participants was also based on the centrality within the social network and age. The study revealed that the participants spent a lot of time on Facebook, displaying music videos and photos to express their ranchero identities.
The significant finding of this study is that most of the respondents use the traditional and non-transnational ranchero Spanish to such an extent that the other party who does not contemplate the ranchero Spanish cannot understand what the participants are talking about. For example, one of the five participants, Renata, posts an image on her Facebook page, showing her cousin and her enjoying American food (Christiansen 693). The comments from her friends are in ranchero Spanish; however, none of the participants or their friends who commented on Facebook used the term ranchero to describe themselves. Avoiding the term shows the extent to which the participants are determined to distance themselves from the ranchero identity. Moreover, the participants and other members of their Facebook friend lists are interested in mocking each other using ranchero Spanish. The weakness of the study is the author`s characterization of the participants and the other members in Facebook as rude, uneducated, and proud rural individuals because they used ranchero Spanish, a traditional and a non-transnational language, to mock each other, which shows the author’s biasness (Christiansen 695). According to Christiansen, the participants and their friends have not abandoned their old ways of communicating (696). Therefore, it is common for people of the same ethnicity and age to mock each other on social media platforms.
Moreover, the work of Christiansen relates to the study of Lee and Hecht, who stipulated that ethnic identification can be established by behavioral acculturation constructs such as language use and generational status (203). Moreover, Lee and Hecht defined that the rapid growth of social media platforms and Spanish language media helps identify Spanish speakers more effectively (204).
It is evident that the participants of this study constructed their ranchero identities by using stigmatized ways of ranchero Spanish on Facebook. Therefore, future studies need to conduct more research concerning the same topic by exploring the behaviors of other ethnic groups. Consecutively, there is a need to use a larger sample size to reduce the biasness of the study.
Christiansen, Martha Sidury. “A Ondi Queras’: Ranchero Identity Construction by U.S. Born Mexicans on Facebook.” Journal of Sociolinguistics, vol. 19, no. 5, 2015, pp. 688-702.
Lee, Jeong Kyu, and Michael L. Hecht. “Media Influences on Mexican-Heritage Youth Alcohol Use: Moderating Role of Language Preference and Ethnic Identification.” Howard Journal of Communications, vol. 21, no. 3, 2010, pp.199–223.