Technoself-Presentation on Social Networks: A Gender-Based Approach

Technoself-Presentation on Social Networks: A Gender-Based Approach

Antonio García-Gómez (University of Alcalá de Henares, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2211-1.ch021
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This chapter examines social networking sites from a sociological and discursive perspective in order to highlight how users engage with them in the construction of their identities. In order to do so it focuses on the different strategies users of Facebook take advantage of in order both to construct their gender identity and control the way they self-represent. The results shed light on the range of identity claims both men and women tend to make in a non-anonymous online setting. In addition, this study aims to increase understanding of identity construction in the online environment in general and gender identity construction in particular.
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Literature Review

Coon (1994, p.471) defines self-concept as the ‘total subjective perception of oneself, including an image of one's body and impressions of one's personality, capabilities, and so on’. Michener, DeLamater, and Myers (2004, p. 79) add that:

Self-concept (or self-schema) is the organized structure of cognitions or thoughts that we have about ourselves. It includes the perceptions we have of our social identities and personal qualities, as well as our generalizations about the self based on experience.

These definitions accord with Mead’s (1934) idea that the self is reflexive, meaning a person can perceive him/herself as both the individual doing the acting and the object on which action occurs. Therefore, self-concept and identity refer to ideas about the self. Let us discuss both self-concept and identity separately.

Self-concept is made up of cognitive components. Early views of self-concept were concerned only with self-evaluation. Self-concept was often connected with self-esteem (i.e. one’s evaluation of oneself in either positive or negative terms) (cf. Rosenberg, 1979). This narrow view of the concept was later elaborated and broadened to suggest that self-concept is made of meaning, and can be said to be a symbolic, social, linguistic phenomenon. As acknowledged in the literature, there are no self-concepts without symbols and language. A review of current literature shows, however, that self-concept is constructed from a complex process which involves not only how we see ourselves and how we behave but also includes the inferences we draw from how people behave towards us. In other words, self-concept is the result of the reflected appraisal process (Gecas & Burke, 1995). There is no consensus, however, on whether self-views are a product of direct experience with the environment or whether most of the knowledge we think we have about ourselves comes from others. Authors such as Baron and Byrne (1997), on the one hand, argue that our self-views are built up in terms of the positive or negative appraisals we obtain from people around us. Conversely, there is a line of thought which claims that our self-concepts do not resemble how others actually see us, but are filtered through our perceptions and, therefore, resemble how we think others see us (Shrauger & Schoeneman, 1979).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gender-Identity: Gender identity is defined as a personal conception of oneself as male or female (or both or neither). Masculinity and femininity are thought to be products of nurture or how individuals are brought up.

Accentuation Effect: It is the tendency to overestimate similarities between people within a category and dissimilarities between people from different categories

Self-Enhancement: The motivation to promote a favourable image of self.

Technoself-Presentation: A deliberate effort to act in ways that create a particular impression, usually favourable, of oneself on Social Networks.

Disembodiment: This is the idea that once the user is online, the need for the body is no longer required, and the user can participate separately from it. This ultimately relates to a sense of detachment from the identity defined by the physical body.

Online Self-Disclosure: It is the sharing of intimate information and feelings with another person on the Internet.

Technoself: It is the outcome of combining Social Networking Sites’ technology and the self considered as a reflective, discursive entity.

Online Commitment: It is the desire or intention to continue an interpersonal relationship online.

Online-Identity: It is the information on the Internet about an individual.

Online Social-Comparison: It is the process of comparing one’s behaviour and opinions with those of others in order to establish the correct or socially approved way of thinking or behaving.

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