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Students' Facebook 'friends': public and private spheres

West, Anne, Lewis, Jane and Currie, Peter (2009) Students' Facebook 'friends': public and private spheres. Journal of Youth Studies, 12 (6). pp. 615-627. ISSN 1367-6261

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Friendship is highly significant during the university years. Facebook, widely used by students, is designed to facilitate communication with different groups of 'friends'. This exploratory study involved interviewing a sample of student users of Facebook: it focuses on the extent to which older adults, especially parents, are accepted as Facebook friends, and the attitudes towards such friendships and potential friendships and what these reveal about notions of privacy. Parents were rarely reported to be Facebook friends, and there was a view that in general they would not be welcomed. The reasons were related to embarrassment, social norms, and worries about mothers. Underlying these were various notions of the private and the public. Students did not appear to conceive of there being two distinct realms: indeed, the 'public' appeared to be the individual's private social world. A level of sophistication is apparent, with nuanced understandings of concepts, suggesting that social networking sites such as Facebook are associated with new ways of construing some of the notions surrounding the traditional public/private dichotomy. Notions of what is private and what is public are fuzzy, with no clear-cut public/private dichotomy. Computer-mediated communication appears to make this fuzziness more apparent than has hitherto been the case.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2009 Taylor and Francis
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Research centres and groups > Education Research Group (ERG)
Identification Number: UT ISI:000274745000002
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2009 18:08

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