Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

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Title:The Facebook Project: Social Capital and the Chief
Author(s):Ginger, Jeff
Social Capital
Social Movements
Chief Illiniwek
LLS496 F07
Abstract:In light of increasing racial tensions in recent years on the University of Illinois campus, the Ethnography of the University Initiative and Diversity Research Project have called for new assessments of campus climate in regards to race. This paper explores a new but crucial space of race related discourse that plays an important role in the everyday lives of undergraduate students: Social networking services extend social capital by impacting individuals and groups and Facebook in particular has amplified student support of Chief Illiniwek, the now deposed symbol of the University of Illinois. The pro-Chief social movement is a powerful example of the way Facebook can potentially be abused for a misguided cause. The Chief represents a myriad of issues relating to racial tensions, including disrespect and inappropriate representation of a racial minority group as well as a topic that provokes responses exemplary of colorblind racism or discrimination. Therefore Facebook is an environment where we need to establish sufficient and effective advocacy and empowerment as a method of social change. This paper draws upon previously established survey data (Ginger 2008) and exploratory qualitative content analysis (manifest and latent) to paint a picture of the contemporary and historical usage of Facebook related to the Chief. Student perceptions in regards to campus climate, actions taken in accordance with the Chief are examined in parallel with the character of groups surrounding the topic. Ultimately the findings and discussion render the suggestion to include more administrative and educator awareness and utilization of the same digital venues for social capital in Facebook for social change as well as a call for better communication processes (dialogue) between participants. Given the necessity to alter preferences in order to cause lasting effects on perceptions of race and the high caliber emotional content encountered in Chief-related groups it would seem these digital spaces are an crucial tool and context for actors leading social movements to understand and engage. See for more details. The Moodle listing only contains excerpts. Please see the Facebook Social Capital FINAL.pdf attachment.
Issue Date:2008-02-20
Course / Semester:LLS 496: Diversity Research Project: Assessing and Enhancing Campus Climate at UIUC, Prof. Jorge Chapa. The class begins with ethnographic research on the impact of the performances of "N*W*C*" and related events on the University of Illinois campus climate. As we are working on this initial collective effort, students also work on specifying their individual or group project for the semester. Examples include research on "cyberbullying" and "cyberhatred" i.e., internet postings that demean, insult, or threaten groups or individuals at UIUC; the self-segregation of UIUC students in social situations. Students are expected to create ethnographic "research process pages" with links to fieldnotes, interviews, maps, and other critical documents and to present their work at an EIU conference. This Diversity Research Project reviews the literature on actions and programs that comparable campuses have used to improve their campus climate. The goal of the Diversity Research Project will be to produce a report detailing these findings as they may be applied to UIUC. The course syllabus is available at:
Publication Status:unpublished
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-02-21

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Diversity on Campus/Equity and Access
    This collection examines ways in which the U.S. university and the American college experience are affected by diversity, and difference. In particular, these student projects examine experiences of diversity on campus, including important contemporary social, cultural, and political debates on equity and access to university resources.

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