Social networking technology: Place and identity in mediated communities

This paper explores the rise of social networking technology as instances of mediated communities. A dialectic between collectivity and place, resulting in the grounding of a shared sense of the past in a particular place, is at the base of all communities. In this sense, community is, by its very definition, inherently ‘mediated’. We reformulate the notion of a ‘virtual community’ to examine the particular modalities of mediation across interactions occurring on Myspace. Data from two separate conversational exchanges are taken from open access Myspace profiles. Drawing on an approach broadly informed by the principles of Discursive Psychology (DP), we examine how identity is constituted within interaction by drawing on symbolic resources. The significance of place and of establishing a delicate relationship between the on-line and off-line accomplishments is underlined. The paper develops the arguments of Benwell & Stokoe (2006) and Dixon & Durrheim (2000) to arrive at an account of ‘place identity’ as the central dynamic in mediated community.