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Adolescents' Self-defining Internet Experiences

Chapter in book
Authors Åsa Andersson
Margareta Bohlin
Linda Lundin
Emma Sorbring
Published in Technology and Youth: Growing Up in a Digital World. Sampson Lee Blair , Patricia Neff Claster , Samuel M. Claster (ed.). (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth)
Pages 105-132
ISBN 978-1-78560-265-8
ISSN 1537-4661
Publisher Emerald
Place of publication Bingley, UK
Publication year 2015
Published at
Pages 105-132
Language en
Keywords Adolescent, internet, identity, gender, narratives, self-defining context
Subject categories Children, Other Social Sciences


Purpose The purpose of this study was to investigate how young women and men perceive the Internet as a phenomenon and what role and meaning they ascribe to the Internet as an arena for defining themselves and for shaping their identity. Methodology/approach The empirical data consist of narratives written by Swedish adolescents. Using content analysis the analysis was carried out in three steps: (1) finding categories and themes, (2) calculation of statistical differences in category frequencies, (3) a theoretically informed interpretation of central themes, using Bourdieu’s concept of different forms of capital, and Giddens’ concept of “pure relations.” Findings The narratives exemplify how computer literacy and technological competence can be converted into social, cultural, and symbolic capital. Gender differences occur both in statistical differences between category frequencies in girls’ and boys’ narratives and in the interpretation of central themes. But there are also several examples that show more complex and contradictory tendencies, exceeding or transformative of gender differences and hierarchy. Originality/value This study considers adolescents’ own perspectives on an arena of great importance. The analyses have been performed both qualitatively and quantitatively, which gives a nuanced picture of young people’s self-defining experiences on the Internet.

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