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25 perspectives on social networking June 1, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Social Networking.

Last night I was out giving one of my Arto-lectures on a school in Aalborg. This is always a nice input in everyday academic life making me see new approaches to social networking. The comments and questions from the people in the audience, who were mainly school teachers and principals, made me think of the many different ways to view social networking sites.

Therefore, here are twenty-five perspectives on online social networking:

  1. The consumer perspective
    Social networking sites are money-making machines creating a need for added value among young people causing them to spend all their pocket money on extra features such as VIP profiles, widgets, gifts for friends and so on.
  2. The youth perspective
    Social networking sites are places that help young people be young and let them “practice” youth. Therefore, the sites are mainly a reflection of youth culture.
  3. The friendship perspective
    Social networking sites are places where young people can maintain and nurse their existing (offline) friendships and create new (online) friendships.
  4. The identity perspective
    Social networking sites are spaces for identity construction. Here, young people are continuously constructing, re-constructing and displaying their self-image and identity. Also, the network sites make them co-constructors of each other’s identities.
  5. The body and sex perspective
    Social networking sites are sexual playgrounds for young people where they portray themselves in a provocative or soft porn-style manner. It is all about appearance and body making the youngsters superficial and shallow.
  6. The paedophile and predator perspective
    Social networking sites are an eldorado for paedophiles and predators who want to harm young people. The people behind the sites are not in control of safety and do not put enough effort into keeping predators out of the sites.
  7. The bullying perspective
    Social networking sites are places where young people bully and threaten each other and the sites are reinforcing and urging bullying between young people.
  8. The reassurance perspective
    Social networking sites are forums for reassurance and confirmatory messages between young people constantly reminding them that they are all right and someone likes them.
  9. The genre perspective
    Social networking sites are places where young people imitate and copy different genres, e.g. fashion magazines, music videos, song lyrics, commercials etc. which can be found in their profile texts.
  10. The branding perspective
    Social networking sites are places where young people learn the mechanism of branding and learn to sell and brand themselves in a positive manner.
  11. The network perspective
    Social networking sites are places where young people learn the crucial importance of being able to network which they can benefit from in their future professional life.
  12. The love perspective
    Social networking sites allow young people to express themselves in a loving manner, thus creating a space for a love discourse that do not exist outside cyberspace.
  13. The source critique perspective
    Social networking sites force young people to be sceptical of what they see and read online. They know that people can create faker profiles which make them extra aware of the identity of the people they communicate with.
  14. The sincerity perspective
    Social networking sites make young people present themselves in a sincere manner in order to avoid being mistaken for a faker. This also creates a sincerity discourse among the users and people who do not follow this are disciplined.
  15. The democratic perspective
    Social networking sites are places that allow young people to have a voice in society. Here, they can be heard and express their opinions.
  16. The materialistic perspective
    Social networking sites are all about materialism and about having the right brands. Youngsters need to be successful with the right clothes and things in order to be accepted on social networking sites.
  17. The language perspective
    Social networking sites aggravate the written language of young people. They develop bad habits of misspelling on purpose, which makes them unable to write correctly. On the other hand, their online language is really creative and they do know how to tell right from wrong.
  18. The public perspective
    Social networking sites are “open diaries” of young people, but they do not think about the fact that the whole world can read their text and see their pictures online.
  19. The surveillance perspective
    Social networking sites are surveillance. Everything young people write online are saved and can be used (against them) by marketing people, future employers and so on.
  20. The group work perspective
    Social networking sites reinforce group work mechanism and young people often work together on profiles and are often willing to help each other.
  21. The time consuming perspectives
    Social networking sites are places where young people spend way to much time preventing them from preforming healthy spare time activities such as sports and outdoor time.
  22. The anti-social perspective
    Social networking sites make young people anti-social and incapable of communication with others face to face. They loose important social competences.
  23. The social perspective
    Social networking sites make young people more social and help them communicate with others. Especially, the sites help youngsters cope with shyness or loneliness.
  24. The generation-gap perspective
    Social networking sites are creating a greater gap between young people and adults such as their parents and teachers who do not understand the youngsters’ need to be online all the time.
  25. The learning perspective
    Social networking sites are places where young people gain important IT competences such as HTML design, layout and graphics.

I have touched upon many of these perspectives during my research, but some of the views are still to be explored. However, I must say that I certainly do not agree with all of the mentioned perspectives, but some of them do represent the opinions (or prejudices) I hear when I am out giving lectures to adults.

Can anyone think of other perspectives?


1. Social Networking Bulletin - » 25 perspectives on social networking - June 1, 2007

[…] More: Malene Charlotte Larsen […]

2. Golagha - June 1, 2007

Interesting! Could you plese provide a reference? Or is it just your ideas?

3. Malene Charlotte Larsen - June 1, 2007

Hi Golagha,
Yeah, these are my ideas. One reference could be my thesis (Larsen, 2005) where I write a lot about the identity perspective, the love perspective, the sincerity perspective, the body perspective, the branding perspective and the friendship perspective which are based on my ethnographical study on http://www.arto.dk. Also, I have been talking about the other perspectives in my lectures on young people and online social networking.

4. Golagha - June 5, 2007

Thanks for info. Unfortunately they seem to be Danish. 🙂 I can not understand even a word. :-/ Thanks anyway.

5. Kelli Matthews - June 6, 2007


Great list! I would love to read your thesis in English if ever available. kmatthew(at)oregon.edu

6. links for 2007-06-07 « tilt! - June 7, 2007

[…] 25 perspectives on social networking « My PhD Blog (tags: social.software Web2.0 Comunidad social.media)   […]

7. Malene Charlotte Larsen - June 7, 2007

Hi Kelli and Golagha,
I’m not sure if I will ever have my thesis translated into English (it’s more than 400 pages). There is however an English abstract in the thesis (page 6-8).

At the moment I am working on a paper for the aoir-konference in Vancuver in October. So I will definitely have new papers on the subject coming up.

8. BizToo - June 12, 2007

Very interesting article! What you have to say about business social networking?

Global Entrepreneurs Social Network

9. shevy.dk » Mine del.icio.us-links den 11. juni - June 12, 2007

[…] 25 perspectives on social networking « My PhD Blog – Malene Charlotte Larsens 25 perspektiver pÃ¥ social networking […]

10. albrechtslund.net » 21 perspectives on surveillance - June 13, 2007

[…] good friend and colleague, Malene Charlotte Larsen, has produced an interesting list of perspectives on social networking. To me, it seems like a good way to get an overview of a given subject and I would like to do […]

11. hovedetpaabloggen.dk » Blog Archive » 25 perspektiver på sociale netværk - June 17, 2007

[…] med sociale netværk på nettet blandt unge (tjenester som Arto og MySpace) – og nu har hun samlet 25 perspektiver på sociale netværk på sin […]

12. 25 perspectives on social networking - part II « My PhD Blog - June 17, 2007

[…] Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Social Networking. trackback Ever since I wrote the post on 25 perspectives on social networking I have been thinking about the many perspectives that I did not include in my list. Therefore, here […]

13. erasmusa - June 17, 2007

Thanks for sharing this. I’ll be working on my MA dissertation soon, and this makes me feel positive about working on it. Good to discover a Danish blog in English, too.

14. GotzeBlogged » Canonicalization of Democracy? - June 18, 2007

[…] trend is serendipitous, ambiguous and heterogeneous. For example, Malene Charlotte Larsen offers 25, no, 35, perspectives on online social networking. And that’s just for […]

15. jeremy hunsinger - June 18, 2007

I’m seeing more and more of this concept of ‘my ideas’…. I find it to be interesting that I could probably drop 3-10 citation on almost every category above, but yet they remain yours…. Perhaps it is remix culture, but I’m not sure there is a category of ‘my ideas’ above, just your composition of many ideas. Certainly it is great and noteworthy, and I appreciate the efforts, but the rhetorical position of ‘mine’ is to me… problematic.

16. Malene Charlotte Larsen - June 18, 2007

Hi Jeremy,
I see what you mean. Perhaps “my ideas” was the wrong choice of words when responding to the first question. What I meant was that these were just my thoughts when trying to put together the many different perspectives that people have on online social networking and youth. I certainly did not mean to say that I had come up with every single perspective.

I was however trying to explain to Golagha that it was “my idea” to map all of the different perspectives in a list (and thereby creating “a composition of many ideas”) and that I did not have a reference for it (the list, that is) in form of an article, a book etc.

That being said I actually primarily had my own experiences with Danish social networking sites in mind when writing the list, including:
1) My analysis of the biggest social networking site for youngsters in Denmark, http://www.arto.dk.
2) My empirical data (participatory observations, interviews, questionnaires).
3) The questions and comments I get from parents, teachers etc. when I’m out giving talks on Arto.
4) The Danish media coverage of social networking sites.

The many different perspectives do belong to different actors (see part II of the list.)

17. NOWUSEIT.COM » Blog Archive » links for 2007-06-11 - June 18, 2007

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18. Grounded In Reality » Blog Archive » Culturally-bound perspectives? - June 20, 2007

[…] – are they specifically Danish perspectives? Some of the perspectives are generic, but how about no. 21 The Time Consuming Perspectives or no. 22 The Anti-social Perspective? Are they culturally bound? Does an American and South African teenager or teenage parent share […]

19. albrechtslund.net » What is a perspective? - June 24, 2007

[…] I posted 21 perspectives on surveillance and Malene Charlotte Larsen gave us 25 perspectives on social networking. So, I was wondering about the theoretical […]

20. LITA Blog » Blog Archive » Buzz buzz buzz - June 28, 2007

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[…] Bejune started us off with 25 perspectives on social networking. (There’s also a follow up – part II). He shared the results of his research into social […]

23. fosseng.info » 35 perspektiver på sosiale nettverkstjenester - July 24, 2007

[…] til å lage en slik liste etter en forelesning hun holdt og skrev opprinnelig en bloggpost med 25 perspektiver på sosiale nettverkstjenester. Deretter kom hun fram med ti nye perspektiver i tillegg. Som en […]

24. How To Start A Blog - September 5, 2007

How To Start A Blog

I couldn’t understand some parts of this article, but it sounds interesting

25. How Can I Make Money From Home - September 26, 2007

How Can I Make Money From Home

We are notably pleased that you’ve come upon our web page about myspace.

26. kemsvigmelm - October 23, 2007

A man is trying a very unusual way to propose to his girlfriend. He wants people to forward an email to as many people as possible and he hopes that it will eventually get to his girlfriend. Details here: http://www.proposal-to-mary.com

Here is what he wants people to send by email:

You could help me a lot to spread my proposal to Mary – it is important that it is distributed as widely as possible so that it eventually reaches Mary. If you would like to support my proposal to Mary, please send the following text by email to a lot of people 🙂

————- SNIP (email text end) —————


For a long time I have tried to find a special way to propose marriage to my girlfriend Mary, whom I know for five years now. I wanted it very special, romantic and memorable, something our grandchildren would still remember.

And here is my idea: I will send out the proposal to Mary to 50 complete strangers, people I don’t know – hoping, that they will forward my proposal to as many people as possible, which in turn forward it etc. And some day, I hope, it will reach Mary, after it has travelled a very long way. I know, it will take a long time and I am quite nervous…

From the poem MY Mary will know immediately that the proposal is for her.

I have created a homepage ( http://www.proposal-to-mary.com ) where you can find the current status of my quest. You can use the homepage to check if the proposal has already reached Mary (in that case it is not necessary anymore to forward the mail).

Once the proposal has reached Mary, I will put a note on these pages. Also I will publish there how many people have read the proposal so that everybody can see how far it has spread and that it is getting closer to Mary.

And of course you will find there what I am waiting for most: Mary’s answer! I can’t tell you, how nervous I am… Will she accept my proposal? Will she like the unusual way how she got it, through the hands of thousands of messengers all over the world?

Please cross your fingers for me! And please – help me by sending the mail to as many people as possible, to help it spread, so that it eventually reaches Mary.

And here is my proposal:

Mary, please forgive me, as you know English is not my native language. And I am not a poet. But I mean it from my heart.

My angel,

Five years ago, I will always remember the day When fate made us meet, blissful Alaskan moments in May Earth spun around us and a journey began Love, warmth, happiness, enough the years to span.

The longer it lasts the more grows our bond And with 80 still – of you I will be fond Whatever happens, I will stay at your side Through good and bad, together let us stride

No second with you was ever wasted
You are the sweetest I have ever tasted
We have spent so many years – why not a life?
Mary, will you marry me – and become my wife?

Mary, if you have received that and have recognized me, then give me a sign so that I can continue with the romantic part of my proposal…

————- SNIP (email text end) —————

27. link - October 28, 2007


wonderful post

28. toksee - February 1, 2008

There may be an integration/acceptance/tolerance perspective. As people join different groups and see that people have different interests that they relate to, they may find that they have more a common bond with those they may have never thought they had a bond with without the benefit of both being in the same group.

29. ahndunk - February 18, 2008

Hi Malene, can I ask you something..
Why I can’t get a lot of traffic although I bookmark my blog through social bookmarking site like onlywire.com?

30. feature: social networking « gingah - March 9, 2008

[…] source: Malene Charlotte Larsen’s PhD blog […]

31. Perspektiver på social software -hvor står vi? « medborger - March 21, 2008

[…] software -hvor står vi? Posted March 21, 2008 Malene Charlotte Larsen har udarbejdet 25 perspektiver på social software For at nærme os vores vinkel har jeg her plukket ud af de mest relevante for […]

32. Rhyo - May 10, 2008

Never thought about so many perspectives of social notworks

33. Natasha - May 30, 2008

this is a very good set of perspectives

34. Essay on Frontline « Vanathy13’s Weblog - June 9, 2008
35. Burak - September 16, 2008

In my opinion, there are some important facts about social networking.
They keep collecting information in every detail they can.Privacy is beeing harrassed and damaged, and in the near future people can face with really serious problems… (not just simple spams, more serious than that)

Check out this article what I mean is really clear :


36. Renjith - October 3, 2008
37. // age-brown :: BLOG » Blog Archive » Ways to view Social Networking… - October 16, 2008

[…] it with books…), but found this interesting blog post by a PHd student in Denmark, called Malene Charlotte Larsen. She had twenty five perspectives on online social networking, and having looked through a few of […]

38. Social Software Guy - March 12, 2009

I’m forwarding this link to our team of social networking website designers. Some Great perspectives here.

Thanks & Take Care.
Jon the Social Networking Software Guy

39. somsun kanyalong - February 14, 2011

I’m interested in online social networking issues.
Because I’m going to do postgraduate research. Field of research studies.
Thank you for offering to an interesting angle.

Mahasarakham University , Thailand

40. Tweets that mention 25 perspectives on social networking « My PhD Blog -- Topsy.com - February 14, 2011

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Keyvan Dolen, PhD Blog. PhD Blog said: Comment on 25 perspectives on social networking by somsun kanyalong #phd #comments http://ourl.com/ixzb […]

41. creepsquash - November 19, 2011

Intresting. Social networks can be dangerous.


42. extra ways to make money from home - April 11, 2012

love your post , write something about extra ways to make money from home

43. h.com - June 2, 2012


h.com - June 2, 2012


44. http://tinyurl.com/worlegan07828 - January 11, 2013

Thank you for taking time to post “25 perspectives on social networking My PhD
Blog”. Thank you so much yet again ,Christian

45. 'The Naked Generation'? | Connect Safely - April 10, 2013

[…] good, bad, or anything in between, but it's very individual. For the bigger picture, see "25 perspectives on social networking," by Malene Charlotte Larsen, a PhD student in psychology and communications at Aalborg […]

46. Omega 3 fish oil tablets - May 11, 2013

Great insights on social networking sites. The thing is that people find time to spend in social media sites neglecting their work. Interaction through social sites is good we must use it properly for our benefit. Don not just simply sit in front of your lap or mobile wasting your time. I moved from facebook to quora. And now I am addicted to it. Its simple great and informational. Think different !!

47. 'The Naked Generation'? - NetFamilyNews.org | NetFamilyNews.org - March 1, 2014

[…] bad, or anything in between, but it’s very individual. For the bigger picture, see “25 perspectives on social networking,” by Malene Charlotte Larsen, a PhD student in psychology and communications at Aalborg […]

48. elder scrolls online specs - July 27, 2014

Hey this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if
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Any help would be greatly appreciated!

49. The Tip Jar – 6/5/07 | Weinreich Communications - September 2, 2014

[…] in the same part of the world, Danish PhD student Malene Charlotte Larsen lists 25 different perspectives that people take on online social networking, such as the consumer perspective, the youth […]

50. sdorttuii plmnr - July 3, 2015

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51. Buzz buzz buzz – LITA Blog - November 16, 2016

[…] well-known such as couch surfing, webkinz (for children). Malene Charlotte Larsen has posted on 25 Perspectives on Social Networking. She has since added another ten […]

52. Social Networking - June 19, 2017

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53. 86Alfie - August 27, 2017

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54. Cherie Keri - September 30, 2017

I do like the way you have framed this particular difficulty plus it does indeed present me personally some fodder for consideration. On the other hand, from what I have experienced, I simply hope when other comments pile on that people today keep on point and in no way get started on a soap box regarding the news of the day. Anyway, thank you for this exceptional point and even though I do not really concur with it in totality, I respect the standpoint.

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