An Integrated Approach to Interactions in Cyberplaces: The Presentation of Self in Blogs

An Integrated Approach to Interactions in Cyberplaces: The Presentation of Self in Blogs

Eleonora Brivio (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italy), Francesca Cilento Ibarra (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italy) and Carlo Galimberti (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch052
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Recently a change of perspective took place in online interaction research, shifting attention from technologies to what people actually do online. Therefore a new family of phenomena appeared: Psychology of Cyberspace was the first answer. Now the time has come to go further adopting an even more ‘social’ stance to study Cyberplaces giving birth to a Social Psychology of Cyberplaces. Combining three theoretical realms (objects, subjects, processes), three levels of analysis (local mediated interaction, everyday situation, social context) and two methodologies of data production (qualitative and quantitative), this chapter proposes an integrated approach to online interactions. An example of this is shown by discussing a research on Self Presentation in blogs.
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Objects: Cyberplaces

Studying mediated interaction and online life means focusing on something that is becoming common for many people. New ways of being and behaving are born, because NTs are used to perform old tasks in new, creative ways, and at the same time these new tools give birth to new possibilities and alternative solutions (Waskul, 2003). All these behaviours are performed in specific online environments and are cultural elements belonging to digital worlds (Fornäs, 1998). According to this perspective, the focus is not on technology, but on people using it. As Waskul notes, cyberspace has been considered for a long time for its technological features, but now cyberplace is preponderant: social dynamics are the focal point.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Context: one of the three levels of analysis to frame a research object with. Focal points are here the different dimensions of social context (interactional, relational, group related and organizational) and how these dimensions affects actors’ practice of use of artefacts.

Theory of Processes: one of the three roots used to frame social dynamics with, Theory of Processes focuses on interactions between Subjects themselves and Subjects and Artefacts. Examples of Theory of Processes are Positioning Theory, Subjectivity and Intersubjectivity.

Cyberplaces: Cyberplaces are the objects of research of Social Psychology when applied to virtual environments. Cyberplaces are environments where social dynamics and interactions outweight technological features of the artefacts used to create them. Cyberplaces are thus made of meanings co-produced by users. Social Psychology of Cyberplaces can be considered a theoretical approach to online interactions and virtual environments’ experiences complementary to Psychology of Cyberspace.

Integrated approach: variable combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies in different succession in order to produce and analyze data to frame and study a phenomenon. Three integrations are possible: in line (subsequent), in parallel, step-by-step (circular).

Everyday Situation: one of the three levels of analysis to frame an object of research with. It focuses on the here and now situation where mediated interactions take place.

Local Mediated Interaction: one of the three levels of analysis to study mediated interaction within. The focus is on the actor-actor, actor-artefact, actor-artefact-actor dynamics as realized within mediated environments.

Theory of Subjects: one of the three roots used to frame social dynamics with, Theory of Subjects focuses on Actors involved in mediated interactions and the links between them. Examples of conceptualizations within this frame are Collective Intelligence, Interbrainframe, Connective Intelligence.

Theory of Objects: one of the three roots used to frame social dynamics with, Theory of Objects focuses on Artefacts. According to this theory, Objects are both technological artefacts, but also endowed with cultural and social meanings build and managed by Actors.

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