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Impression Management and the Problematic Self Online: Facebook, Friendship and Recognition

Flaxman, Kayleigh Louise Layla (2014) Impression Management and the Problematic Self Online: Facebook, Friendship and Recognition. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:47652)

Language: English
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Language: English
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[thumbnail of BIBLIOGRAPHY final corrections version.pdf]


This thesis broadly addresses the issue of identity management and performance online. The social networking site Facebook has been used as the primary research site due to its dominance on the World Wide Web and in individuals’ lives. Specifically this thesis seeks to understand how people negotiate their identity in a social space where a multitude of different friendship groups and associations are simultaneously present. The thesis makes extensive use of the premise originally made by Erving Goffman, that we give particular performances of self to particular groups of people and social situations, and extends this to our more intimate and interpersonal relationships. Further, an exploration is undertaken of the relevancy of early Internet theories concerning the fragmented self, and hypothesises that although these arguments are not redundant the opposite of this is equally plausible. This is to say that instead of identities becoming

segregated, the design and conditions of Facebook allows its users to present what is termed here as a recentred self: a self or identity that is an amalgamation of all relevant identities in order to satisfy a level of recognition in as many social groups and associations as possible.

Through an extensive observational online ethnography and a number of online interviews, the data revealed a complex relationship between the individual, their presentation of self, their relations with others and offline community integration. Using three case studies (Goth, eating disorders and fetishism) it emerged that

depending on the perceived taboo or deviant nature of the specific identity, the expected reactions of others and the integration of the identity in the offline individuals engage with highly variant forms of identity management. Using these different forms of management, that include the fragmented self, the re-centred

self and combinations of multiple strategies, individuals negotiate their way through a myriad of identities and audiences. Through successful identity management individuals aim to be able to protect themselves against potential repercussions from revelation of a problematic identity, and in turn maintain a comfortable level of


Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Miller, Vincent
Uncontrolled keywords: internet online identity recognition friendship Facebook fetish eating disorders goth
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2015 01:00 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2022 00:25 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Flaxman, Kayleigh Louise Layla.

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