Pathfinding Discourses of Self in Social Network Sites

Pathfinding Discourses of Self in Social Network Sites

Mariza Georgalou (Lancaster University, United Kingdom)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch504


It has been argued that social network sites (SNSs) constitute a cultural arena which gives rise to the processes of self-presentation, impression management and friendship performance (boyd & Ellison, 2007). Based on the tenets of discourse-centered online ethnography, this study investigates how identity can be discursively generated, reproduced and co-constructed within the genre of SNSs, taking as a case in point Pathfinder, a Greek portal which incorporates social networking features. The tendencies suggested by interviewing a Pathfinder web developer as well as by a pilot survey on social networking are traced in a popular Pathfinder networker’s profile. Adopting Zhao et al.’s (2008) sociological model of implicit and explicit identity claims on SNSs and leaning on critical discourse analytical tools (Fairclough, 2003; Reisigl & Wodak, 2001), the chapter explores how the online self can be cemented and disseminated in narrative, enumerative and visual terms via an armory of linguistic and multimodal strategies. In this fashion, SNSs should not be approached as a sheer technological artefact, but as a “space for growth” (Turkle, 1997) that encourages users to have agency shaping collaboratively their own linguistic, social and psychological development.

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