Social Media and Social Order: A Comparative North European Study

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 13:30
Oral Presentation
David HERBERT, Kingston University London, United Kingdom
This paper reflects on the findings of a 3 year Norwegian Research Council project which has investigated how social media is reshaping social relations in multi-ethnic neighbourhoods of cities in Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, looking especially at how cultural conflict and social order are generated, reinforced and challenged both on social media platforms and at their intersection with life in the physical city. We have focused on the platforms Facebook (most widely used) and Instagram (most visually curated), examining their use in urban environments using mixed methods, including social media analytics (heat maps and network analysis), content analysis (of posts, photos and text) and interviews. Using these methods, we have investigated the online/offline lives of a variety of groups, including ethnic Danish converts to Islam and lifestyle clusters in Amsterdam and Kristiansand. Our evidence suggests that whereas many accounts emphasise the egalitarian and polarising potentials of social media, we find that social media platforms are more likely to reinforce existing power relations, distribution of resources and prevailing social consensus than to disrupt them.