Cultural societies and information needs: Croats in New Zealand

Publication Date24 November 2019
Date24 November 2019
AuthorMaja Krtalić,Ivana Hebrang Grgić
SubjectLibrary & information science
Cultural societies and information
needs: Croats in New Zealand
Maja Krtali
Victoria Business School, School of Information Management,
Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, and
Ivana Hebrang Grgi
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences,
Department of Information and Communication Sciences, University of Zagreb,
Zagreb, Croatia
Purpose The purpose of this paper was to explore how smallimmigrant communities in host countries
collect, disseminate and present informationabout their home country and their community, and the role of
formal societiesand clubs in it.
Design/methodology/approach This paper presents the results of a case study of the Croatian
community in New Zealand. To illustrate how cultural and technological changes affected information
dissemination andcommunication within the community, the case study presents bothhistorical and current
situations. Methodsused in this case study included a content analysis of historicalnewspapers published in
New Zealand by the Croatian community,content analysis of current webpages and social networking sites,
and interviews with participants who have management rolesin Croatian societies and communities in New
Zealand.Data were collected from December 2018 to February 2019.
Findings Formally established clubs and societies, but also informal groups of immigrants and their
descendants can playa signicant role in providingtheir members with information about the culture, social
life and events of the home country. They alsoplay a signicant role in preserving part of the history and
heritage which is relevant, not only for a speciccommunity but also for the history and culture of a home
Originality/value The methodologyused in the research is based on data from community archivesand
can be used for studying other small immigrant communities in New Zealand or abroad. The case study
presentedin the paper illustrates how the information environmentof small immigrant communities develops
and changes over the yearsunder the inuence of diverse political, social and technologicalchanges.
Keywords Immigrants, New Zealand, Information, Community archives, Croats, Cultural societies,
Paper type Research paper
Introduction and previous work
Immigrant communities have diverse information needs when it comes to keeping
connections to their home countriesand staying informed about historic and current culture
and events. These needs and methods of addressing them vary dependingon the migration
circumstances, everyday life conditions, stage of migration, generation of descendants and
all the nuances of interaction between those factors. Any research on an immigrant
population faces the challenge of studying such a diverse and heterogeneous study
population (Caidi et al.,2010, p. 498). Our research aims to show how the information
environment of small immigrant communities develops and changes over the years under
the inuence of diverse political, social and technological changes. Cultural societies are an
Received14 February 2019
Revised24 May 2019
Accepted1 July 2019
GlobalKnowledge, Memory and
Vol.68 No. 8/9, 2019
pp. 652-673
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/GKMC-02-2019-0017
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
important part of that environment. Community archives within these societies serve as
records of those changesas well as sources of current information for their members.
In this section, we discuss previous works on immigrant communities in relation to
information needs and information sources, information environments and community
archives. As all three aspectsare well represented in the literature and are wide and complex
in its essence, it is not the intention of this paper to cover previous works extensively, but
rather to point to the main argumentsthat guided our research.
Literature shows that information needs and sources, especially for the new arrivals,
mainly revolve around everyday life context.For example, Sirikul and Dorner (2016, p. 535)
concluded from their study on information behaviour of the Thai immigrants in New
Zealand that main information needs of the participants were for employment, English
language learning, housing,health and making connections and that their main information
sources during settlement were family, friends and the internet. These ndings are very
much in line with a number of other research papers (Shoham and Strauss, 2007), even if
they studied different national groups, and in different geographical and other contexts.
Sibal and Foo (2016) examined the information behaviour of the diasporic Filipino
community, bringing into discussion public governance, education and the pedagogical
component of technologyuse. They concluded that that a majority of their participants were
already digitally connected, but found the need to introduce them to a plurality of
information sources including the institutionalised and authoritative ones manned by the
government(p. 1582). Previous researchers show that the internet is often immigrants
main source of information. In addition, social networking sites (SNSs) (such as Facebook)
play a signicant role not only in seeking and using information but also in forming
connections and contributingto social inclusion in general. Khoir et al. (2015, p. 95) argued in
their study, Capability in information behaviour will generally result in a positive
settlement process that reects social inclusion.Personal connections are often used as
trusted sources of information (Fisher et al., 2004;Su and Conaway, 1995). Silvio (2006)
researched information needs of immigrant southern Sudanese youths and showed that
participants seek easily accessible information, preferably from interpersonal sources.
Ethnic local newspapers are also perceived as trusted sources of information, abroad and
locally (Karanl, 2007). Lin and Song (2006), forexample, investigated the ethnic press and
how it tells geo-ethnic storieswhich are culturally relevant and locally vital information to
immigrants in the hostsociety.An interesting point they raise is about the mindset of many
media publishers who targetprimarily rst-generation readers.
In previous research, information behaviour of immigrants is explored both from the
aspects of new and settled immigrants and their descendants.The latter is not as present in
the literature as the former. However, the descendantsnotions of home and host country are
quite different from what their parents and grandparents experienced. That difference
means that the strength of their informationneeds and their topics of interest will also differ
from previous generations in their family. Authors such as Boyd (2002),Alba (2005), and
Waldinger and Feliciano(2004) explored a second- and third-generation immigrants. Waters
et al. (2010) examined theories of immigrant assimilation by exploring the effect of
acculturation types on socioeconomic outcomes in young adulthood. The question of
boundaries is raised by Alba (2005,p. 41) who points:
[...] the construction of immigrant native boundaries is, in each society, a path-dependent process
that hinges on the materials available in the social-structural, cultural, legal, and other
institutional domains of the receiving society, as well as on characteristics and histories that the
immigrants themselves present.
Croats in New

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