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Front- and backstage in "social media"

Publiceringsår: 2010
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Konferensbidrag


Excessive generosity with information about one's private life or the private lives of others, known as ”oversharing”, appears to be an oft-noted phenomenon in the context of ”new” media. I have previously studied this phenomenon in connection with mobile phone conversations in public places. After having eavesdropped on, or maybe rather overheard, such conversations more systematically, I offered a number of different explanations for the intimacy that occasionally results from these conversations: Were such mobile phone users to be re-garded as inconsiderate individualists, or as communicating exhibitionists, or as absorbed communicators? It is against this background that I am studying, in this paper, oversharing in the context of social media such as Facebook, and attempting to answer the question: What is it in ”social media” as media and in the communicative situation of the person using them that constitutes front- and backstage and the border dividing them? The paper consists of a com-parative analysis of face-to-face interaction and interaction in social media in which I use Goffman's terms ”front- and backstage” and ”expressions given and expressions given off.” The two forms of interaction are also compared based on Goffman's system model of com-munication, which consists of eight different system requirements and system constraints. The results of the comparison between face-to-face interaction and interaction in social media has to do with differences in the natures of the two forms of interaction. When it comes to the communicative situation in which social media users find themselves, it appears to be para-doxical: on the one hand, the users can present themselves in a highly controlled manner while, on the other hand, the risk of oversharing appears to be great.


  • Educational Sciences
  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • sociology
  • Goffman
  • oversharing
  • social media
  • mobilephone calls
  • frontstage
  • backstage
  • sociologi
  • educational sciences
  • utbildningsvetenskap


XVII World Congress of Sociology, arranged by the International Sociological Association (ISA)

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