Young People's Understandings of Social Media : Changing Perceptions and Reflective Practices

Monday, 11 July 2016: 10:55
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Justine GANGNEUX, College of Social Sciences, The University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
This research explores young people's practices and understandings of social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. It uses qualitative interviews with young people aged 18-25 examining their digital practices on their personal devices. By adopting a critical perspective, the research transcends both top down approaches on social media, and binary frameworks that focus extensively on empowerment and participation, or solely on risks and online safety (van Dijck, 2013, Fuchs, 2014). Using Bourdieu's theory (1984, 1998), it provides more complex insights into young people's social media practices and how they perceive and negotiate these platforms. Thus the research investigates how social media platforms are both shaped by and reshaping young people's personal relationships, and how young people interrogate and reflect on these technologies in their everyday life.

The proliferation of social media coincides with the extension and individualisation of young people’s transitions to adulthood (Furlong & Cartmel, 1997), as well as with the expansion of education, an increasing mix of work and study and flexibility in the labour market, and the desynchronisation of young people's schedules (Woodman, 2012, Wyn & Woodman, 2014). It is also embedded in a wider economical context of assimilation of work and leisure, and increasing insecurity (Sennett, 1998 , Beck, 2001, Standing, 2011). Within this context, the research examines the impacts on young people's personal relationships of increased capacities for connectivity, self-management, peer scrutiny and checking practices that these technologies provide.

The research, in particular underlines the impacts of social media in young people's relationships in terms of social sorting (Bourdieu, 1984) and normalisation of scrutiny as well as entrepreneurial and reflective practices (Giddens, 1991, Kelly, 2006). It focuses on young people's understandings of social media and also importantly looks at the shifting perceptions, negotiations and legitimacies of their media practices in their everyday life.