A comparison of Facebook groups: How is regional identity of Saxony and Moravia illustrated by social media?, Antje König, Tereza Melicharová

1. Summary

Main goal of our research project for the workshop “Regional identity in Moravia and Saxony” was to find out if regional identities loose relevance in times of networking and global interconnectedness. Internet as part of new media plays an important role in the research process of evaluating people’s behavior and thoughts. By social media, “users” begin to present and share interests and aims. During the last years the networking service “Facebook” developed to the most significant platform. Therefore we decided to do a comparative study by contrasting groups, which are either established by Facebook users or constitute an official fan page. However, we want to find out how Facebook groups are used to present regional identity and if differences of Saxony and Moravia can be illustrated.
The following article presents our theoretical approach of regional identity as well as the comparison of Facebook groups between Moravia and Saxony.


2. Regional identity

Regional identification is the amount of positive feelings or attitudes of people towards a region.1


Speaking about regional identity includes the question “what is identity”. Answering this question means to ask “who am I?”. Identity is bound on several factors: individual(s), social environment, personal experiences and personal development. We assume that every individual who presents its regional identity e.g. in a group of Facebook, connects positive feelings towards a region. In our project this affective allegiance to a region is defined as pride belonging to a region or a group. Processes of identity are not reflections of reality but an expression of expected reality. Identities are not static but react towards impulses from the outside. These impulses include emotions like quality of living, economic success of a region and factors of socialization (family, friends).2 Moreover, multiple regional identities are possible. If a person is moving from one region to another, he or she is able to identify with the “new” region, because of positive experiences.

According to our workshop topic we ask, how regional identity is occurring. Thus we expound regional identity via  „collective identities“. This approach is structured into three models: social identity, cultural identity and political identity. Our focus is set on the first two models. Social identity means a group is establishing itself by individuals. Hence, regional identity is triggering out personal identities of people with a region, e.g. naming a region „home“ (Heimat). The concept of cultural identity remarks dependence from a so-called social kitt, whereby people share a common history, traditions, values, cultural practices, symbols etc. The last model of political identity determines that the mediation of identity is dependent to real perceptions (humans experience their environment – which can be changed by politics – and begin to define themselves ).
To approximate popular culture of regional identity, we need to comment on several “every-day” issues. Means how do people ordinary deal with their identity? The following diagram shows the items we concentrated on during our research project:

3. Social Media and Regional Identity

Meanwhile, more than 500 million active users have a profile on Facebook. Recently, the fastest growing Facebook markets have been in Central and Eastern Europe, like the Czech Republic. Why is Facebook reaching such a huge accomplishment, especially for the younger generation?
With using Facebook, people stay in contact with others, share information and even more important, they edit their profile and present characteristic attitudes. By simply pressing the “Like”-Button, people show their favor to a certain interest and place their sense of identification. In fact, Facebook represents a so-called public room, where cognitive and emotional feelings are expressed. A room-related identity is developing by mainly three issues: cognition (realization of the environment, regional consciousness – “know-how” about the region), identification (of values, ideas, conviction with groups) and communication (interaction of interests). Room-related identity is remarked by “the identity of a group”3. By using a “room” – meaning Facebook – individuals begin to identify with others and a “we-feeling” is occurring as well as growing. Summarized, a group that is interacting in a room with a certain social tool (Facebook tools) is intensifying a common identity. Constructed rooms (pages, group sites) compress the group, which is able to establish and create attention. Regional identity as result of an amplification process is developing via social networking.


4. Comparison and Outcome

As shown in the diagram, we concentrated on six items during our research of Facebook groups in comparison of Saxony and Moravia. The following table outlines groups which were interesting to our research project.

Name of Group



Region: Saxony



A group for people who are from, who have visited, or just happen to admire the wonderful beauty and the serene atmosphere Saxony

Discussions about “home” and Saxon dialect as “not that bad”

Sachsen weltweit“


All people from Saxony who are now anywhere in the world, find a place in this group“

Discussions about where people from Saxony live now

City: Leipzig



Discussions about economy, the development (solar energy) and satisfaction of the people

Leipzig is the most beautiful city in the world”

Dates for leisure; Discussions about best places, where to go, hometown

Mein Leipzig”

April 2011:


May 2011:


admirer of Leipzig”

No Discussions.

Unserschönes Leipzig”


No Discussions.


Sächsisch ist säxy“


Yes, we from Saxony can be „säxy“, although not everybody understands our dialect“

Wall posts in written dialect



No public content.

Wir Sachsen haben den besten Dialekt ;)!”


No Discussions.

Qaiilster Dialect, hübsche Mädels, schlaue Jungs Das ist Sachsen!“


All from Saxony must join this group if they agree with the name of the group“

Wall Post: „Miss my home“

Local Product (Beer)



Explanation and eulogy of the regional beer Sternburg.

Personification of the name and illustrating it as a symbol of Leipzig.



April 2011: 2918

May 2011:4 3173

Explanation where to buy Sternburg for people who are not (anymore) in Leipzig or Saxony.

Wall Posts: Experiences with the Beer; extolments

Local Sport (Football)

1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig”

April 2011: 1097

May 2011: 1454

General: No groups with negative slogans

Discussions about Leipzig against Saxony

FC Sachsen Leipzig 1990 e.V.”

April 2011: 1097

May 2011: 1278

Use to decrease information plus show current news

Local Freak

Sachsen-Paule Fanclub”

April 2011:


May 2011: 171

All of the groups are established just for fun. “Sachsen-Paule” is a guy who became famous because he used his Saxon dialect very offensive and wanted to become a porn star. He is a real figure who established an image of a “stupid, dumb” Saxon guy.

Sachsen-Paule is not in Media anymore, but people still remind him as an extraordinary person.

Key Points:

  • wanted to start a porn career

  • famous because of his dialect which he used as “brand”

  • popularity end of 90s

  • Has been in Big Brother Container/ House

  • Today less popularity

Da Sachsen Paule is unser Held”


Sachsen Heiko”

April 2011:


May 2011: 42

Sachsen Paule for President”


Region: Moravia

Naša Morava”

  1. 000

moravian nationality, not division OF CZ, flag

  • moravian dialect –language (name OF the group), using the language,

  • we feeling“ defend our business against the Czech, especially when it has Moravian origin and it is called Czech (and all the state is called Czech republic), that is the most significant thing

Why being proud? Historical reasons: „Morava existed sooner than the presence OF german tribes. We have the right to our land more than Czechs do.“ (12 like

City: Brno

BRNO-moravské hlavní město“ (Brno-capital of Moravia)


Brno has been Moravian metropolis since 17th century.

We are not from a city, we are from BRNO!“

I love Brno“

4 125

Brno is neither small village nor giant metropolis.

Actualities, culture, info

Brno aneb Štatl“ (Brno aka Štatl)


This group was originally called „Is there 10. 000 people who like Brno more than Prague?“

photos of Brno monuments, advertisement,movie stars loving Brno (for more – see below)


Brněnské Hantec”

6 457

Hantec is a slang used in Brno. It originated in the course of several centuries as a mixture of Czech and German languages. It was used by lower social classes during 19th century and on the biggining of 20th century. Today the original form of Hantec is not so common, but there are certain expressions widely used.“

Chceme Fejsbuk v hantecu – We wanna add Hantec as the official FB language“


Local Product (Beer)


11 089

Quality beer with tradition“

Discussions about kinds of Starobrno

Local Sport (Ice hockey)

HC Kometa Brno“

21 811

Official – interviews, articles about club

Kometa Brno”

13 048

Unofficial – posts from fans, advertisement

Local Fool

Brněnský výpravčí” (Dispatcher)

10 561

Talking about personal experience with him

Arguing him

Cool dude, killer, indispensable

Compared to Moravian groups, all groups belonging to the main category Saxony are very small. The largest group is the group “Leipzig” with roughly 28.000 members. Content of Saxon groups is mainly the “feeling of home”. People share greetings, cultural events but also express the regions economic growth, which makes most of the people feeling very proud. Economic success is a main item people share their regional identity with. Despite Saxony is one out of 16 Bundesländer in Germany, it experienced the division of Germany by being part of the former GDR. Economic growth in the region of Saxony is an important issue to overcome historical cut-off of West Germany which experiences fast economic growth due to its open relations to the West during global dichotomy4. With the development and modernization of Saxony, people begin to show their regional identification more proudly. However, the public illustration of regional pride in Facebook is growing, but compared to Moravia encouragement is quite small.

Interpretation of one group: Mein Leipzig

The biggest group “Mein Leipzig” places the logo “I love LE”, which is the main symbol for New York. The image can be interpreted in two ways. First, it presents Leipzig as a big (Big Apple) and important city everyone shall know. Second, it is a symbol of a city, which is famous, special, young and creative. In this group the number of members is growing fast. From April to May 201 the number changed from 1309 to 1482. Playing with the image “I love …” sets a symbolic character. People know the symbol and use it to present their pride towards their city. In case of Brno there is analogical group called I love Brno with almost the same profile picture.
Groups Moravia

Generally there is a large amount of groups containing higher number of members, although number of inhabitants of both regions is comparable. Among all groups the most remarkable topic is defending of Moravia (Brno) against Bohemia (Prague) connected with „we feeling“, especially in case of products or famous people having Moravian origin and called Czech. Moreover all the state is called Czech republic. In this case argumentation for legitimity of existence and importance of Moravia and Brno is based most on historical reasons. About content of these groups: some of them (like Brno – capital of Moravia) are based on pride of being Brno inhabitant, more often one can find there information about city, culture, actualities etc.

Interpretation of one group: Brno aka Štatl

This group was originally called „Is there 10. 000 people who like Brno more than Prague?“ and now is using local name for Brno in slang Hantec – Štatl. Pictures of those celebrities indicate worldwide famosity, importance, feeling of being attractive.

(Pictures downloaded from the Brno aka Štatl Facebook group site in the first half of the year 2011 as a part of research and used strictly for educational and scientific purposes.)


When comparing Saxony and Moravia it’s important to remind that Saxony is one of 16 Bundesländer in Germany, in Czech Republic there are only 3 counties and in case of Moravia some people do have inferiority complex from always being the second behind Bohemia and Prague.

In general, regional identities do not loose relevance in times of networking and global interconnectedness. Moreover, social media offers a platform to stay in touch with regional events even if individuals are not living there anymore. However, regional identity can be “learned”. People who are moving in a region might begin to feel part of it and present their affinity via social networking. The great advantage of Facebook is the connection of region and identity. Cultural and regional identity via social media/ Facebook can even intensify, because by using Facebook more times a week, the user faces contact and discussions about the region he or she is identifying with. The matter of “home” is beard in mind and basically by several group settings, individuals reveal their identification to a region. Group behavior in a public room influences attitudes of individuals. Our research outcome demonstrates, that the so-called “we-feeling” in Facebook groups is growing. Especially groups of Moravia show this phenomenon.

According to our research, social media, namely Facebook, does not yet have as much influence to illustrate or determine regional identity in Saxony. Still, local and regional media implements the main characteristics of illustrating regional identity. Hence we need to make the distinction, that social media in Saxony has not yet reached local media. But anyway, social media is altering to have a group character.

In summary, regional identity is the result of a process of personal or constructed personal networks. Those personal networks changed into interpersonal (social) networks. Within a group, even a fictional one, regional identity is able to grow instead of decrease.

1) Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Opp and Prof. Dr. Kurt Müller (University Leipzig), in: Abschlussbericht: Ursachen für die Identifikation von Bürgern mit ihrer Region und Wirkungen auf individuelles Handeln. 1999 – 2002 DFG Projekt „Ursachen für die Identifikation von Bürgern mit ihrer Region und Wirkungen auf ihr individuelles Handeln“; Projekt im Sonderforschungsbereich 417 „Regionale Identifikationsprozesse“.

2) It is assumed, that people grown up in a region with positive experiences show strong regional identity. In fact attitudes towards those experiences must be stable.

3) Weichart 1990, p. 23.

4) In any group we saw a change of members during the time of our research, we state the comparison of April and May 2011.

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