"My Face" - Identity and emotional structures on social networking websites

People choose information to discribe themselves on online network sites. It seems plausible to think that a person's emotional self-concept guides this choice.

Project No. G 103

André Hoever

For a while now social networking websites like MySpace or Facebook have offered the opportunity for translating oneself into profiles. Besides direct communication with friends, users are able to express and describe themselves in any way they like. This may be managed, for instance, through a static 'About Me' -field, or in a dynamic way, by answering the question 'What's on your mind?'.

In both cases, users choose which areas of their lives they will use to describe themselves. The way they do this is often emotionally structured. Emotional structures are understood as underlying the ways of presenting aspects of identity in a narrative way, e.g. talking about friends and family in order to show social embededness and that one is doing well, or making statements about life and destiny to show either independence or helplessness.

My research questions concerning these kinds of self-descriptions are:

1. What life-areas do people choose to talk about, and what ways do the use to do this?

2. What kind of emotional structures lie behind this selection process ?

3. How do these emotional structures differ depending on gender and level of education ?

Ultimately, I hope to discover what kinds of emotional structures are used by each social group in formulating their self-description and what this reveals about their self-concept.

Discipline

Sociology, Social pedagogy

Supervisor

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gerhards

Prof. Dr. Ronald Hitzler (Dortmund)

Prof. Dr. Christian von Scheve