Understanding the role of Social Media in Contemporary Society by Chris Hine

Uploaded on

Understanding the role of Social Media in Contemporary Society by Chris Hine - a presentation from the BSA Teaching Group Regional Conference at the University of Surrey on 31 May 2014.

Understanding the role of Social Media in Contemporary Society by Chris Hine - a presentation from the BSA Teaching Group Regional Conference at the University of Surrey on 31 May 2014.

More in: Education
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
No Downloads


Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds



Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

    No notes for slide


  • 1. 09/06/2014 1 Understanding the role of social media in contemporary society Christine Hine Department of Sociology, University of Surrey c.hine@surrey.ac.uk http://www.theguardian.com/housing- network/2012/nov/05/social-housing-tenants-free-broadband http://www.pewresearch.org/2013/03/04/twitter-reaction- to-events-often-at-odds-with-overall-public-opinion/ http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2011/111710.html
  • 2. 09/06/2014 2 Understanding the role of social media in contemporary society Internet research connects with two core A Level themes – Socialisation, culture and identity… The Internet as a site for identity formation, political action, cultural expression… – Social differentiation, power and stratification…The Internet as a site of inequality, reflecting and exacerbating social divisions Socialisation, culture and identity: the Internet Internet as culture – A site where significant, complex, meaningful social interaction happens Internet as cultural artefact – A technology with meaning within wider society – A focus of diverse cultural symbolisms and connotations Socialisation, culture and identity: the Internet • We do not use technologies only for their straightforward functionality. We use them also for what they do for us socially in terms of identity and belonging • We learn how to use technologies as part of peer networks for whom the technology has come to have a particular meaning • Those meanings can vary… Teen socialization – networked publics and bedroom culture • Teenagerhood experienced as a process of “becoming” – developing a sense of identity and learning expertise in social relations • Teenage “hanging out” very important in allowing for these processes of socialization • Public discourses of risk and danger surround teenagers • Teenagers’ need for private spaces away from adults often conflicts with adults’ need to keep them under surveillance in the interests of safety
  • 3. 09/06/2014 3 Teen socialization – networked publics and bedroom culture • “Bedroom culture” emerges as the safe space in which teenagers maintain some privacy and exert control over their physical surroundings • Increasingly, the bedroom has become media saturated, and connected to an outside world via social media • Experiences and practices in social networking sites can substitute for hanging out in physical space. Here, as in the bedroom, a space for identity formation separate from adult influence can be maintained Teen socialization – networked publics and bedroom culture • Teenagers can hang out in virtual space, just as their predecessors hung out in shopping malls etc • In the context of an ongoing identity project, apparently trivial social interactions are significant • However, unlike hanging out in physical spaces, online hanging out does carry some risks • Online interactions can be persistent, replicable, searchable and performed to invisible audiences… so sometimes they can have unexpected consequences Social differentiation, power and stratification • There are enduring inequalities in access to and use of the Internet • These inequalities both reflect aspects of wider social differentiation and have the potential to exacerbate them • Surveys describe and interpret inequalities in Internet access and use, and map the changing picture – Oxford Internet Survey http://oxis.oii.ox.ac.uk/ – Pew Internet and American Life Project http://www.pewinternet.org/ – World Internet Statistics http://www.internetworldstats.com/ – Alexa –information on individual web site audiences http://www.alexa.com/ Discussing headlice on mumsnet Qualitative research explores social differentiation by looking at the dynamics of online spaces and the emergence of new forms of expertise online •Mumsnet: advice “by parents and for parents” • A site where many taboo issues of parenting are openly discussed • Demographic is older, more predominantly female and more educated on average than the general Internet population (and hence, also a biased sample of the population as a whole) • A distinctive set of values and practices (online community?)
  • 4. 09/06/2014 4 Discussing headlice on mumsnet • Treatment positioned as a requirement of responsible parenthood • Emotional register of disgust • Risks associated with “chemicals” • Notions of parenthood as involving limitless labour on behalf of one’s child, positioning treatment by combing as a preferred option • Healthcare professionals positioned not as experts, but as sources of free treatment products Discussing headlice on mumsnet • A distinctive social setting where, unusually, detailed discussion of headlice is sanctioned. • Everyday knowledge is inseparable from salient identities and contexts of expression • A new form of expertise – according to Eysenbach (2008), apomediation rather than intermediation • Credibility judgments made according to different criteria from traditional expertise • New forms of expertise and expression online, feeding into social differentiation between digital haves and have-nots Understanding the role of social media in contemporary society • A substantive topic in its own right – the Internet as reflective of social change, as a site for experience of change, and as a facilitator of change • A site for exploring key sociological topics, exploring dynamics of social differentiation, socialization, identity, deviance, social capital… • A resource for study of interpersonal dynamics, identity and community formation, credibility, authenticity and expertise References Boyd, D. (2007). Why youth (heart) social network sites: The role of networked publics in teenage social life. MacArthur foundation series on digital learning–Youth, identity, and digital media volume, 119-142. http://sjudmc.net/lyons/civicmedia1/wp- content/uploads/2013/09/boyd-Why-teens-heart-social-media.pdf Eysenbach, G. (2008). Medicine 2.0: Social Networking, Collaboration, Participation, Apomediation, and Openness. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 10(3), e22. http://www.jmir.org/2008/3/e22/?ref=nf Hine, C. (2012). Headlice eradication as everyday engagement with science: An analysis of online parenting discussions. Public Understanding of Science, 0963662512453419. http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/763796/