Change Talk at iVillage.com

Change Talk at iVillage.com

Jolane Flanigan (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-863-0.ch017

Abstract

With the growing number of women going online, women-centered Internet sites have become more abundant. This case focuses on social support offered by relationship message board members at iVillage.com, a popular and pioneering site for women. Findings suggest that community members promote a form of individualism that reflects a dominant United States (US) cultural understanding of self. Read against research that suggests US females tend to have a more relational than individual sense of self, the promotion of an individual self may be an unhelpful aspect of the social support given on the relationship boards.
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Setting The Stage

The Internet has held many exciting possibilities for gender and communication research. As a medium of communication, the Internet provides for gender ambiguity and anonymity by rendering invisible many of the social cues that mark gender—such as one’s physical appearance and the tone of one’s voice. Thus, computer-mediated communication presents users with an opportunity to adopt different gender identities and styles of communicating than they do offline. For this reason, computer-mediated communication has been studied for its potential to liberate women from off-line gender roles and identities, for the resources people utilize to establish online gender identities, as well as for the fluidity and the play of gender in computer-mediated communication.

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