Anthropology of social networking
- A New Public Order: Network Politics and the Tea Party Movement
- Facebook in Trinidad
- Occupying Cyberspace: Indonesian Cyberactivism and Occupy Wall Street
- 'Online togetherness' of Brazilian migrants on social network sites
- Secret communication systems in Facebook
- Shifting Fields: Social Media, Religion and Popular Culture in Brazil and the Diaspora
- What 'friends' on the screen may mean: social networking shaping the Filipino diaspora
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Child in India? Sorry! No Facebook then!
Mon, 20 May 2013 11:57:07 +0000
The Delhi High Court had questioned the Union Government of India on why minors (children below 18 years of age) were on Facebook and Google. This was in response to a case filed by an ideologue of a major political party in India. The issue they wanted explained was how someone under the age of [...]
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What is social media about?
Thu, 09 May 2013 11:53:59 +0000
In this post I will summarise my individual interest in this project and how it relates to my previous work. In my PhD I discussed a particular and apparently individual reaction to the lack of appropriate alignment of the individual to the external forces that come from society. I showed that in rural southeast Romania [...]
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‘What is social media?’ – a definition
Tue, 30 Apr 2013 23:01:01 +0000
Having described our project as the Global Social Media Impact Study, we realised there was just one little thing we hadn’t actually done. This was to define, at least for our purposes, what we mean by the words ‘social media’. Our studies are ethnographies, there is pretty much nothing we would not wish to include. [...]
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The secret world of the inbox
Wed, 24 Apr 2013 20:03:35 +0000
This is my last week in my field site until 2014. I’ve been hussling to spend as much time with as many people as I can in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been invited to a wedding, a ceremony of Hindu prayers (a puja), a political rally, a cd launch by a local band and [...]
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Chinese ‘WeChat’ social media app will make the world look around and shake!
Mon, 22 Apr 2013 01:38:40 +0000
Two years is a long time in the world of social media. This point has been reinforced to me multiple times in the last few weeks since my return to China. When I was in the country carrying out research for my PhD in 2011, no-one in my fieldsite was talking about WeChat (威信 weixin). [...]Read more...
What 'friends' on the screen may mean: social networking shaping the Filipino diaspora
Dr Deirdre McKay
Senior Lecturer, Geography
William Smith Building
Staffordshire UK ST5 5NA
My current project studies social networking platforms as one locus among several in an ethnographic multisite in the broader Filipino diaspora. I’ve come to social networking as both site and research methodology because of my interest in much older forms of social organization – village and region – and my curiousity about the ways these forms persist and are being reinvigorated or transformed by polymedia and digital technologies. My recent book, Global Filipinos (2012) tracks migrants’ use of mobile phones as this new-to-respondents technology reshapes the intimate field of the village and its households. But this material is already history, with many of my current research participants having moved from texting home to their kids to ‘Facebooking’ them, combining webcam with chat and an image/video grab feed. As might be expected, it’s been my mobile and tech-savvy Filipino migrant respondents – including Ruel Bimuyag (photo 1) - who have motivated me to move my work on-line, not the other way around. My work on social networking is thus embedded in what are questions of intimacy, indigenous identities and distance – the ways people think and feel about themselves in and through a digitally-mediated world.
Because this research project is situated in what is already a well-characterized social field – the Kankana-ey ‘ili’ or village and regional Igorot cultures - I’m able to use my findings to challenge what are some persistent preconceptions about social networking by showing some of the various ways it may be taken up and appropriated to a cultural field characterized by long-established translocal connections. For example, I have shown that social networking is not simply ‘networked individualism’ but able to express and recompose forms of Filpino extended personhood that persist from the pre-colonial era (McKay, 2011). I’ve made this argument by analysing the appropriation of historical images as profile photographs. I have found such images on ‘friends’ lists that largely capture ties of kinship and propinquity, recreating a sense of village-ness for migrants now scattered across a number of receiving nations. Yet networks also work against these ties. I’ve been exploring the ways social networks facilitate the activities of ‘cutting the network’ (Strathern, 1996), excluding individuals from these same exchange relations, kin or community groups while also documenting new affiliations with churches or host nationals instead. While the temptation to read networks as open and expansive persists, analyzing practices of image posting and tagging reveals how digital platforms are now being used to give clear messages about belonging and its limits. Digital exclusions – the cropping of photographs and not-tagging of their subjects – is a powerful tool for shaping relationship and a public disciplinary strategy, amenable to practices of translocal surveillance. Increasingly, important ritual and life-course events are hosted digitally and are framed as ‘global’ in the village or regional sense only if they are evidently networked across village members posting comments from two or three different migrant-receiving nations and being ‘tagged’ to show not only those present, but to name those absent and indicate where they ought to be in the image. Finally, I’ve just started to examine the ways social networking platforms are being utilized for entrepreneurial activity, largely by young women who curate and resell second-hand clothes, some of which are sourced for them and sent ‘home’ by migrants working overseas (image 2).
McKay, Deirdre. (2012) Global Filipinos: Migrants’ Lives in the Virtual Village (Bloomington: Indiana University Press.) (Expected 19/6/2012)
McKay, Deirdre. (2011) On the Face of Facebook: Historical Images and Personhood in Filipino Social Networking. History and Anthropology 21, 4, 483-502.
Johnson, J.M. and McKay, D. (2011) Mediated Diasporas: Material Translations of the Philippines in a Globalized World. Southeast Asian Research 19(2). (introduction to a Special Issue).
Further papers on cutting the network and faith in diaspora, on ‘empty’ tags and the politics of absence and ghosts, and on Facebook entrepreneurs are in progress for 2012 conferences and will appear in my forthcoming book, Archipelago of Care (Indiana, 2014, under contract.)
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