Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

‘As if nobody’s reading’?: the imagined audience and socio-technical biases in personal blogging practice in the UK

Brake, David R. (2009) ‘As if nobody’s reading’?: the imagined audience and socio-technical biases in personal blogging practice in the UK. PhD thesis, London School of Economics.

Full text not available from this repository.


This thesis examines the understandings and meanings of personal blogging from the perspective of blog authors. The theoretical framework draws on a symbolic interactionist perspective, focusing on how meaning is constructed through blogging practices, supplemented by theories of mediation and critical technology studies. The principal evidence in this study is derived from an analysis of in-depth interviews with bloggers selected to maximise their diversity based on the results of an initial survey. This is supplemented by an analysis of personal blogging’s technical contexts and of various societal influences that appear to influence blogging practices. Bloggers were found to have limited interest in gathering information about their readers, appearing to rely instead on an assumption that readers are sympathetic. Although personal blogging practices have been framed as being a form of radically free expression, they were also shown to be subject to potential biases including social norms and the technical characteristics of blogging services. Blogs provide a persistent record of a blogger’s practice, but the bloggers in this study did not generally read their archives or expect others to do so, nor did they retrospectively edit their archives to maintain a consistent self-presentation. The empirical results provide a basis for developing a theoretical perspective to account for blogging practices. This emphasises firstly that a blogger’s construction of the meaning of their practice can be based as much on an imagined and desired social context as it is on an informed and reflexive understanding of the communicative situation. Secondly, blogging practices include a variety of envisaged audience relationships, and some blogging practices appear to be primarily self-directed with potential audiences playing a marginal role. Blogging’s technical characteristics and the social norms surrounding blogging practices appear to enable and reinforce this unanticipated lack of engagement with audiences. This perspective contrasts with studies of computer mediated communication that suggest bloggers would monitor their audiences and present themselves strategically to ensure interactions are successful in their terms. The study also points the way towards several avenues for further research including a more in-depth consideration of the neglected structural factors (both social and technical) which potentially influence blogging practices, and an examination of social network site use practices using a similar analytical approach.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2010 11:54

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only