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Title: Social Exchanges in the Digital Media
Authors: Hassen, Hela E. M.
Supervisors: Fitchett, James
Smith Maguire, Jennifer
Award date: 19-Jun-2019
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This research explores how social relationships and exchanges in the digital sphere can be framed as gift practice. Many qualitative studies have been exploring the processes of social exchanges between individuals thanks to the concept of gift theory (Mauss, 1954). As result, this study aims to analyse the salient patterns of social exchanges on Instagram using the theoretical and conceptual framework of the gift-giving practice. I analysed the content of 15 face-to-face interviews and I conducted a netnography to appreciate the media users’ experience and social interactions on the Instagram platform. This research, led by an interpretive and phenomenological approach, focuses specifically on food-related contents to understand the forms and dynamics of social exchanges on Instagram. Previous research on digital media has given credence to reciprocal exchanges which encourages social relationships and boosts the users’ social capital. Reciprocal exchanges in a community can create unbalanced relationships and can lead to a sense of ‘indebtedness’ (Marcoux, 2009). Scholars provide evidence for this new tendency that challenges the idealised vision of the gift giving practice. Not only does the research aim to understand how the practice of giving online (sharing, posting, commenting, ‘liking’) create bonds and boost social capital but it also explores the notion of obligation in the digital social environment. The findings indicate that the use of Instagram can be both beneficial and detrimental for users’ sociality and psychological well-being. Digital exchanges can expand users’ social network, increase social capital, prompt users to feel that they belong actively to a social group, and ensure self-presentation. Nevertheless, the use of the digital platform reveals detrimental aspects, such as generating indebtedness, social comparison, jealousy, misunderstandings, anxiety and loneliness.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Leicester Theses
Theses, School of Management

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