MySpace is a social network site (SNS) that forms an essential part of modern online communication. The creation of a personal profile in MySpace allows a user to connect with a global network of friends and communicate in a number of different ways. This thesis sets out to explore the experience of MySpace in terms of the self, identity and community. MySpace will be studied from a constructionist form of social psychology that benefits from new dialects of movement, performance and process. MySpace is conceptualised as a mediated community where users shape and are shaped by their experience of using the site. This study uses empirical data taken from the natural use of MySpace.
A total of 100 open-access profiles are explored for the myriad ways that users constitute the self and identity in MySpace. The analysis identifies a number of functions of mediating the self including: the brand me, the hoped-for self and the self in potential. The brand me describes the reflective ability to realise other normative capacities through the practice of blogging in MySpace. This focuses on the ability to create new forms of subjectivity in MySpace interactions. In a similar vein, the hoped-for self explains the modification of the self through the act of profile changing and focuses on the actual, everyday practices of the self. Each of these analytic themes demonstrates the importance of the relational connections in MySpace. Finally, the self is defined as in potential as the analysis demonstrates an ongoing need for a narrative construction to the profile that is performed in both the visual and the textual aspects of the page.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.