Davis, Jennifer Lauren (2008-10). Presentation of self and the personal interactive homepage: an ethnography of MySpace. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • Erving Goffman's dramaturgical perspective sees the world as a stage and social actors as the players (1959). Social actors partake in a series of dramatic performances to accomplish a certain stable social self. This idea has been built upon in recent years through the structural symbolic interactionist perspective, particularly with the work of Peter Burke's Identity Control Theory (2004). I hope here to continue to build upon the work of these theorists, as well as engage in a dialogue within the field of computer-mediated-communication (CMC). This work is at the nexus of social psychology and CMC studies. Contemporary technology has had great implications for many aspects of the social world and for interaction in particular. Since contemporary technologies impact interaction, and self construction is embedded in the interaction process, then it is important to look to at the theoretical implications of contemporary society's technological advances. I look ethnographically at MySpace, using participant observation and interview, to study how interaction and self presentation take place within the structure of the personal interactive homepage. My sample (N=97) is non-random and is drawn from my "Friends" list. I argue that the personal interactive homepage provides a unique forum for interaction. I analyze the structure of the personal interactive homepage, and examine the ways in which users construct an ideal and still authentic self within this structure. Through a synthesis of these analyses, I am able to build upon presentation of self theories, arguing that the dimension of power can (and should) be included in understanding the presentation of self process. The extent, to which an actor can present an ideal self in light of varying degrees of negotiation, represents the actors" "power to present".

publication date

  • October 2008