9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN07 Sociology of Culture

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Old and New Individualisms II Building II, C4.07

Social Network Sites and the rise of networked individualism

The rise of individualism has been recently described in terms of ?networked individualism? or ?individualized networking? (Wellman, Castells). The new patterns of sociability seem to be built on me-centred networks: each person ?becomes a communication and information switchboard, between persons, networks, and institutions? (Wellman, 2004: 127).
Digital technology is not determining this process: it is rather enabling each person to build and manage their own social networks, both on- and offline.
The recent popularity of Social Network Sites such as My Space, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. shows that there is a growing interest in articulating, making visible, and managing personal or professional relationships through technology-enabled environments. The phenomenon addressed is wider than Social Network Sites, and includes the wide variety of ways in which people are linked to each other.
The purpose of the proposed presentation is to examine Social Network Sites by focusing on personal profiles and ?friendships?, in order to underline the ways in which people articulate their social relations and the related individualised identity performances.
Profiles are powerful tools of self-presentation: a social network profile?s list of interests publicly articulates how tastes contribute to identity building, leading to what has been defined as taste performance.
For a better understanding of the identity performances and of the ties? strength, we should not only focus on SNS, but rather consider the wider context. Nevertheless, SNS are powerful playgrounds, both for the user and for the researcher.
The proposed presentation is based on empirical research, both quantitative and qualitative, conducted since June 2008 at the University of Rome, Sapienza.