Peer-Surveillance and Management of Uncertainty through SNS in Japan: Obligation of Keeping Good Company and Its Impasse

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 6:00 PM
Room: 303
Oral Presentation
Kiyoshi ABE , Sociology, Kwansei Gakuin University, Nishinomiya, Japan
When the usage of the Internet became prevalent in 1990s, scholars and critics envisioned a coming future where people can expressively interact to each other as Netizen (net-citizen). As two decades have passed since then, many of the Internet dreams have come true thanks to rapid innovations of information and communication technologies. But, the reality of the Net in which we now live is a little bit different from the hopeful vision that the enthusiastic proponents of the digital dream have proposed.

 The rapid diffusion and prevalent usage of SNS can be regarded as the realization of long-lasting digital dream. However, paying close attention to what is actually going on through the usage of SNS, we come to discern the moment of peer-surveillance that contradicts the ideal of free, expressive and autonomous communication.

 The usage of SNS seems to be a sort of ritualized practice of everyday life among the younger generation in Japan. As the previous studies have clarified, the on-line relationship formed in SNS has closely related to the social activities practiced off-line. For many users of SNS in Japan, the main purpose of engaging in SNS is more to keep good company through checking and surveilling the detail of everyday life practice to each other rather than to express their opinions and discuss with other people on the Web.

 In this paper I will discuss how university students perceive the meaning of their using the Net and in what sense it makes them feel obliged to engage in SNS so that they can keep on good company with off-line friends. Even though they sometimes feel reluctant to keep on ritualized practice of SNS, it is almost impossible for them not to participate in that as it causes the rising sense of uncertainty in making relationship with friends.