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Title: Identity Construction and Social Capital: A Qualitative Study of the Use of Facebook by Saudi Women
Authors: Alsaggaf, Rania Mohammed
Supervisors: Whiteman, Natasha
Simmons, Tracy
Award date: 1-Dec-2015
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This thesis is concerned with the formation of online identity and relationships on Facebook. It seeks to make a contribution to knowledge by examining the way that women in Saudi Arabia negotiate a complex terrain of expectations and possibilities as they engage in social networking activities on this site. The thesis reveals the strategies used in constructing and managing their identities, the issues they discuss and share with their audiences and the forms of social capital that their interactions produce. The thesis utilises a mix of qualitative methods of research. It is based on online/offline interviews and observations of the participants’ self-performances and activities on Facebook. The conceptual language of the thesis is informed by Goffman’s dramaturgical approach and Bourdieu’s concept of social capital. The analysis is positioned within a critical engagement with studies of identity construction, online deliberation, and social capital in social media environments. The findings reveal different aspects of identity formation and management of self and others on the site, suggesting that these are overshadowed by a high awareness of the gaze of known and unknown audiences. The study identified participants’ practices of distinguishing self from other, judging the self, and imagining being judged by others. Their identities were found to be constructed, gendered, and tightly managed as they addressed multiple audiences, with networks being formed in a way that has relatively narrowly defined boundaries. By examining the ways that cultural expectations shape participants’ online self-presentation and social activities, the thesis explores the continuities between their online and offline worlds. This thesis extends Goffman’s dramaturgical approach to consider more complex settings where the self is monitored and regulated, contexts “collapse,” and the audience is physically absent. This thesis also contributes to understandings of the blurring of the public/private distinction online and proposes extending the scope of ‘online deliberation’ beyond public political spheres to other, more private networked publics. The exploration of the connections made by participants between their online identities, expressions, and relationships and their offline lives, enables the study to consider how participants' Facebook use relates to their wider contexts of interaction.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, Dept. of Media and Communication
Leicester Theses

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