Theatrical self-presentation: Social media, gender politics and digital identity

Year: 2017

Author: Khoshsabk, Nastaran

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper argues that in some societies there are extreme restrictions on receiving information on many social topics which are considered 'taboo'. However, social media tools provide a context for information sharing by women to fill the gaps in these restricted social areas. This qualitative case study sheds light on the theatrical dimension of virtual self-presentation that encourages the users to participate in social media. The dramaturgical aspects of using social media are being used in this study from a sociological perspective (Goffman, 1959) to describe the process of gaining a sense of self through online-interactions. Six months Facebook analysis of some Iranian social media users were categorised using codes and themes as follows: self-censorship, the place of online technology and its role on representation of the digital self. The study found that the 'actual self', as described in interviews, was hidden/filtered by individuals for different reasons such as its influence on their social/cultural identity and the development of the image of their future selves. In the process of digital participation, social media users learnt more about acceptable online codes of conduct, the language of social media and the interpretation of visual digital content. This research, by offering increased understanding of the importance of online-communities, will have implications for online-education contexts, particularly in contexts with socio-cultural boundaries.