Online Identity (Brief) – First Post   no comments

Posted at 5:38 pm in Sociology



A very interesting issue for research would be to investigate the concept of identity on the Web and the possible consequences of potential anonymity – such as ‘Flaming.’

Identity on the Web is an important area to be examined, as people may be able to portray a different identity online than in the physical world. Therefore, it may enable people to voice an opinion without constraints, or depict a variant identity online – for example how an individual may use a social networking site.

In the Foundations of Web Science Module there was a sociology lecture focused on this area entitled: ‘Social Structures.’ Furthermore, there was also a politics lecture that centred on the concept of privacy on the Web and possible concealment of identity. Therefore, it would be very appealing to examine how both the sociological and political views on the Web in regards to identity are similar and compare these disciplines’ methodologies.

Intial Research Areas:

  • Does the potential anonymity the Web affords offer an opportunity for individuals to express their real-selves? Or can it be used for exaggeration – such as, individuals portraying themselves as how they would like to act in the physical world, and over the top aggressive behaviour (‘flaming.’)
  • Do individuals have a separate online identity? Is an individual’s identity online a reflection of their real-self, or an exaggeration?
  • ‘Gender-Switching’
  • How has the Web impacted on our identity? Does the way identity is viewed differ from before the Web?
  • How does the ability to create anonymous identities and allow people to pretend to be other real-world identities create new issues such as cyber-stalking and online defamation?
  • Can anonymity allow individuals a better way to express their real beliefs about Government and policy?

Preliminary Sociology Research:

What is Sociology?

University of Southampton: BSc Sociology – The Modules

A Breakdown of the Available Modules

Current Reading:

Green, E. and Adam, A, ‘Virtual Gender: Technology, Consumption and Identity,’ (Routledge, London, 2001)

This book contains interesting studies in regards to ‘gender-switching’ on the Web. Why might a female individual wish to portray a male identity online – and vice versa?

Jones, P, ‘Introducing Social Theory,’ (Polity Press, Cambridge, 2003)

This book offers an overview of sociological theory; however, it has become apparent that there are many different schools of thought in regards to the concept of identity. For example, on one hand it is argued that ‘body-centredness’ governs the concept of identity, whereas other theorists believe that due to the modern age and ‘consumer culture,’ material belongings are now used in its expression.

Other Reading:

Sassen, S, ‘A Sociology of Globalization,’ (Norton & Company, London, 2007)

Nunes, M, ‘Cyberspaces of Everyday Life,’ (University of Minnesota Press, London, 2006)

Lull, J, (Eds.,) ‘Culture in the Communication Age,’ (Routledge, London, 2001)

Written by Laura German on February 19th, 2010

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