25 perspectives on social networking – part II June 17, 2007Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Social Networking.
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 are ten more perspectives on online social networking:
- 26) The entertainment perspective
Social networking sites are places young people use for entertainment just like any other medium. Here they watch videos, play games, upload pictures, listen to music etc. Thus, for many youngsters social networking sites have replaced the function that the tv set had for previous generations.
- 27) The communication tool perspective
Social networking sites are merely a communication tool for young people and they use the sites similar to how they use their mobile phones. In this connection I can mention that the most frequent message I have seen displayed in young people’s guest books is “Hi, what are you doing?”.
- 28) The creative perspective
Social networking sites allow youngsters to be really creative and mix and play with different types of content. My colleague Thomas Ryberg refers to this as ‘patchwork’ or ‘remix’ culture in his upcoming PhD thesis on young people, ICT and learning.
- 29) The space and place perspective
Social networking sites are spaces that allow young people to create their own place(s). And those places are as real and important as the offline places where they meet. Also, young people talk about social networking sites as places referring to them as e.g.. “in here”.
- 30) The Nexus of Practice perspective
A social networking site could be seen as a ‘Nexus of Practice’. This concept comes from Ron Scollon and it “simultaneously signifies a genre of activity and the group of people who engage in that activity.” (Scollon, 2001). People are rather loosely connected in a ‘nexus of practice’ and I think it is a good metaphor for social networking. (I used the term defining Arto in my thesis.)
- 31) The Community of Practice perspective
Social networking sites are therefore not communities in the original sense of the word. However, they do provide the possibility that young people can join in more closely connected interest groups which in Etienne Wenger’s terms could be labelled Communities of Practice (CoP’s). Thus, a social networking site could be viewed as a ‘Nexus of Practice’ with numerous ‘CoP’s’ incorporated.
- 32) The collection perspective
Social networking sites are places for young people’s collection mania. Here they collect friends, guest book messages, picture comments etc. (Thanks to Jette Agerbo for pointing out this perspective on her blog.)
- 33) The fun perspective
Social networking sites are “just for fun”. Jette Agerbo also mentions this perspective calling it the ‘play perspective’. However, I must say that I do not include the more game or play oriented websites (like Habbo Hotel or Netstationen) in my definition of social networking sites. But of course some youngsters could be using a social networking site as a way of playing or just having fun.
- 34) The technological perspective
Social networking sites are part of the Web 2.0 and social software technology generation in which case focus on the technological possibilities is predominant.
- 35) The hardcore business perspective
Social networking sites are hardcore business for the big corporations behind the sites (like Fox). I don’t think I quite covered that perspective in my last list mentioning the consumer perspective.
Now, these are the additional perspectives I could think of. Maybe new ones will emerge later…
However, it is important to know that all of these different perspectives belong to different overall categories (or different actors or discourses). Based on my – now 35 – different perspectives I propose the following six overarching categories:
It this category we find e.g. the identity perspective, the youth perspective, the language perspective, the genre perspective, the materialistic perspective, the learning perspective, the creative perspective, the Community of Practice perspective and so on. All of those perspectives could (and should) be a way of researching online social networking and youth. (I am on it :))
In this category we find the point-of-view from the users of social networking, e.g. the social perspective, the friendship perspective, the democratic perspective, the love perspective, the reassurance perspective, the sincerity perspective, the public perspective etc. Those perspectives could also be viewed as different motives that the users have for using social networking sites.
Professional or learning perspectives
To this category belongs the perspectives that consider the learning possibilities of social networking or see how it can be used in a (future) professional life. We have here the network perspective, the group work perspective, the source critique perspective, the technological perspective, the creative perspective, the Community of Practice perspective and more.
Adult or parents perspectives
In this category we have the voices from the worried parents or other adults who have a hard time understanding why the youngsters spend so much time in front of the screen. This is for example the time-consuming perspective, the anti-social perspective, the generation gap perspective, the language perspective, the consumer perspective, the public perspective etc.
Moral panic or news media perspectives
Some perspectives emerge out of a public concern or a news media discourse where creating selling headlines comes into play. Thus, we have in this category the paedophile and predator perspective, the bullying perspective, the sex perspective, the network perspective, the youth perspective, the public perspective and so on.
In this category we find the marketing or business perspectives such as the consumer perspective, the materialistic perspective, the branding perspective, the surveillance perspective and the hardcore business perspective.
As can be seen from the above, some of the perspectives will fit into more than one category and could be taken up by several actors. But I do think it is important to know where one is coming from when talking about online social networking and youth. In any case, mapping out the different perspectives has been a good exercise for me as a researcher.
Also, check out my colleague Anders Albrechtslund’s 21 perspectives on surveillance.