Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Summer 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Mass Communications

First Advisor

Judy Polumbaum

Abstract

This study examines identity presentations on the online social networking site, Facebook.com. The two-phase research design includes a period of participant observation of a sample of 346 college students and recent graduates followed by an interview period with a sample subset of 48 interviewees. The study analyzes key performance components on the site using a symbolic interaction perspective, to determine common characteristics of Facebook profiles, importance of performance components, and categories of identity performance.

Identity performance components are broken into two general categories, static and dynamic. Dynamic components, those that are updated frequently and drive much of the activity online, are far more important in terms of identity performance. Dynamic components on Facebook found to be important in this study are status updates, use of bumper stickers and pieces of flair, giving gifts, and photos.

Analysis of these components supports the symbolic interaction literature in general and the works of George H. Mead specifically. The Facebook news feed allows Facebookers to continually observe identity performances of others as well as to give and receive feedback on performances. This continual flow of information allows for the development of a generalized other, used as the basis for anticipating reactions from others to potential activity. Based on these anticipations, in an effort to reduce misinterpretations, Facebookers develop exaggerated performances that serve to distinguish in-groups from out-groups.

Keywords

Computer-mediated, Identity, Online Community, Social Network, Symbolic Interaction

Pages

vi, 247 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 232-241).

Comments

This thesis has been optimized for improved web viewing. If you require the original version, contact the University Archives at the University of Iowa: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/sc/contact/.

Copyright

Copyright 2009 Lee Keenan Farquhar

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