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Title:Living docility and dissent: U.S. small town girls' social media use within social marginalization
Author(s):Rickman, Aimee
Director of Research:Sandvig, Christian E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Larson, Reed W.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Sandvig, Christian E.; Oswald, Ramona F.; Kwon, Soo Ah; Jarrett, Robin L.; Gray, Mary L.
Department / Program:Human & Community Development
Discipline:Human & Community Development
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Social Media
New Media
Social Media Migration
Abstract:Following in a long history of social panic over females’ lack of safety with new communication technologies, in the US, society has defined adolescent-aged females using social media in a familiar binary fashion: they are either “at-risk” or “reckless” in their involvements (Cassell & Cramer, 2007; Standage, 1998). This dissertation is an ethnographic study of rural, teenaged American young women that challenges this view. It employs Lesko (2001) and Gray’s (2009) critical perspectives on youth identities to look beyond the fear and danger traditionally associated with adolescence and with girls’ sociality to consider the broad role social media play in their lives. This ethnography investigates the meaning and context of actions taken by young rural females on Facebook and Twitter that are judged by adults and institutions as risky from within the framing of adolescence. Looking closely at what is really risky within this milieu, this study finds these teens facing frustrations in restrictive, monitored, censoring, and contained life in their homes and communities are attempting to flee to “spaces” in social media where they are able to gain social involvement and perform their identities without fear of reprisal. Teens report that the poor treatment they receive in their day-to-day lives within the context of modern adolescence drives them into what I term “social media migration.” In the hopes of escaping offline containment, surveillance, and misinterpretation, these teens travel alone to and through online spaces to set up temporary walls of “public privacy” that allow them to perform desired identities away from parents’ watchful eyes. Social media migration is undertaken by these young women intentionally to claim social spaces that they feel will allow them new opportunities to interact, to gain visibility for non-childish identities, and to craft counternarratives to trouble their offline marginality. Writ large, this research suggests that these teens do, in fact, find themselves in perilous positions in their life in social media. However, it finds that other analyses failed to capture the actual risks entailed in young women’s social media use because researchers directed attention to youth blaming and re-tooling, and away from important larger structures of power involved in both social Internet technologies and adolescent marginality.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Aimee Rickman
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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