Lecture 16: Digital Privacy and Self Expression

This month we are really looking at self -expression and how we expresses our selves online

Intended Learning Objectives

  • Discuss theories about self and self construction
  • Consider question of elf in two examples
  • Discuss ethical considerations

Key Terms:

  • Uses and gratification theory
  • Self
  • Virtual self
  • Performative self
  • Dramaturgical theory of the self
  • Ideal self extended self
  • Selfie (technological/virtual self)


  • Key thinkers: must contend with what all of these thinkers where saying in regards to sociology
    • Herbert Mead (1863-1931)
    • Irving Goffman (1922-1982)
    • Anthony Giddens ( 1938 – )
    • Zygmunt Bauman (1925 – 2017)

Origin of “self” in its modern Context:

  • Herbert Mead, Mind, Self and Society (published posthumously in 1934 from reconstructed lecture notes)
  • For Mead “the self is a symbolic project which the individual actively constructs and develops, drawing on symbolic resources to construct a sense of identity in the context of engagement with familial
  • You have to construct your self, build your self up from something

What is the self for Mead:

  • Self is the agency that distinguishes I from you, but also allows for self reflexive distinction between I and ME
    • “I did this” vs. “I am This”
    • This process for Mead is called self-awareness

All the worlds a stage:

  • for Goffman, the self is a multiplicity of role, performed to different audiences, and so continually monitored and negotiated to maintain social cohesion
  • Everything is a Performative cohesion
  • Everything is about performing roles
  • And all these things are done as a means of impression satisfaction – showing people what they see my self as

Historical Trajectory of the concept of self:

  • Different perceptions of self
  • Projecting a sense a self
  • Self as identity concept began

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