Social Media in an English Village
Daniel Miller | February 2016
Open Access PDF
About the book
Daniel Miller spent 18 months undertaking an ethnographic study with the residents of an English village, tracking their use of the different social media platforms. Following his study, he argues that a focus on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram does little to explain what we post on social media. Instead, the key to understanding how people in an English village use social media is to appreciate just how ‘English’ their usage has become. He introduces the ‘Goldilocks Strategy’: how villagers use social media to calibrate precise levels of interaction ensuring that each relationship is neither too cold nor too hot, but ‘just right’.
He explores the consequences of social media for groups ranging from schoolchildren through to the patients of a hospice, and he compares these connections to more traditional forms of association such as the church and the neighbourhood. Above all, Miller finds an extraordinary clash between new social media that bridges the private and the public domains, and an English sensibility that is all about keeping these two domains separate.
About the author
Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology at UCL, author/editor of 37 books including Tales from Facebook, Digital Anthropology (Ed. with H. Horst), The Internet: an Ethnographic Approach (with D. Slater), Webcam (with J. Sinanan), The Comfort of Things. A Theory of Shopping, and Stuff.
Table of contents
Introduction to ‘Why We Post’ | Welcome to The Glades | The social media landscape | Crafting the look | Social media and social relationships | Making social media matter | The wider world | How English is social media? | Notes | References | Index
About Why We Post
Why do we post on social media? Is it true that we are replacing face-to-face relationships with on-screen life? Are we becoming more narcissistic with the rise of selfies? Does social media create or suppress political action, destroy privacy or become the only way to sell something? And are these claims equally true for a factory worker in China and an IT professional in India?
With these questions in mind, nine anthropologists each spent 15 months living in communities in China, Brazil, Turkey, Chile, India, England, Italy and Trinidad. They studied not only platforms but the content of social media to understand both why we post and the consequences of social media on our lives. Their findings indicate that social media is more than communication – it is also a place where we now live.
This series explores and compares the results in a collection of ground-breaking and accessible ethnographic studies. To find out more, visit ucl.ac.uk/why-we-post.