Internet Chatrooms: E-Space for Youth of the Risk Society

Internet Chatrooms: E-Space for Youth of the Risk Society

Cushla Kapitzke (University of Queensland, Australia)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-494-1.ch009
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This chapter uses Ulrich Beck’s (1992) concept of Risk Society to contextualize the current ‘youth problem’ and the emergence of the techno-genre, Internet relay chat (IRC), in advanced capitalist societies. It argues that unsympathetic social policies combined with increased levels of surveillance in physical environments have contributed to the uptake of virtual space and online chatrooms as a means of social contact and engagement for youth. To the uninitiated, ‘chat’ is an ungovernable space of indecipherable codes, virtual skulking, and suspect subcultures. The chapter begins with a description of the rhetorical conventions of chat and a review of extant literature on it. It examines adult responses to teen chat through investigation of their representation in newspapers and compares this with text from 100 chatrooms. The purpose of this was to investigate whether adult prohibitions about chat are justified. Data showed that chat is a discursive space with highly regulated protocols and social mores, and that its delegitimation can be construed as an exercise in social control and governance over the textualities and sexualities of youth.

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