Online Life and Gender Dynamics

Online Life and Gender Dynamics

Jonathan Marshall (University of Technology Sydney, Australia)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch146
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Abstract

The study of gendered interaction online grows out of studies of gendered interaction off-line and will probably be found to be a cultural variable changing with off-line gender behaviour in different social groupings. However, this does not dispose of the issues of gender’s influences on online behaviour, or of whether gender behaviour online is transformed in relation to behaviour off-line. The relevance of gender may vary in different contexts: with class, religion, place, proportions, type of online forum, topic of discussion, and so on. These contexts could overwhelm gender identities existing outside them and their effects need to be investigated. Power ratios between people of various genders may also vary within different contexts and cannot be assumed in advance. Gender both enables and restricts behaviour; it is neither merely positive nor merely negative. In the West (at least), gender seems to be constantly in flux and interrogation, and it is not surprising if such interrogations and uncertainties occur online. Despite this interrogation, gender in off-line life seems to be treated as an essential part of a person’s being or identity, and it guides reaction to others.

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