Taking Goffman on a Tour of Facebook: College Students and the Presentation of Self in a Mediated Digital Environment
AuthorBirnbaum, Matthew Gardner
Committee ChairLee, Jenny
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study explores how college students present themselves on Facebook, a social networking website, and the impressions they want their fellow students to form of them when looking at their profiles. Goffman's dramaturgical and impression management framework served as a theoretical lens through which Facebook profiles were explored. Employing an ethnographic research design, data for this study were collected during eight-months of participant observation, 30 photo-elicitation interviews, and a photographic content analysis.Facebook has been rapidly adopted by undergraduate students who use it to maintain existing relationships and also as a medium in which to present themselves, especially through photographs. This study provides college administrators and student affairs professional some information about how undergraduates use Facebook and how Facebook can assist them in better understanding their institution's own student culture.Because photographs are instrumental to Facebook use, this study focused on the many images students place on their profiles. The use of photographs in social research is limited and it is hoped that this study will lay the ground work for further use of visual methods. This study found that college students believe that other college students are the primary audience for their profiles. Also, college students use six general "fronts" that lead audience members to see them as: (1) partier, (2) social, (3) adventurous/risk-taker, (4) humorous/funny/silly, (5) part of larger community, and (6) unique. Taken together, these fronts represent an "idealized" undergraduate. Students use props, settings, and gesture to provide their audience members visual cues to help them form the desired impressions. Much of the material that students place on Facebook is meant to be humorous or only understood by a small group of friends. Also, students only show a "narrow strip of activity" in their profiles.
Degree ProgramHigher Education