Bourdieu on Social Network Sites: The Communicative Function of Economical, Cultural and Social Capital of Visual Frames in Facebook

TitleBourdieu on Social Network Sites: The Communicative Function of Economical, Cultural and Social Capital of Visual Frames in Facebook
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Niemann, J., S. Geise, Y. Alleger, M. Badermann, A. Briehl, H. T. T. Nguyen, and M. Oehrl
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Hohenheim, Germany
Section or WGVisual Culture Working Group
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodeVISF3a
Slot Code (Keyword)VISF3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
RoomHelix - The Gallery
Session TitlePower/ Ideology in Visual culture
Submission ID5440
Abstract

The work of Bourdieu (1986) remains highly relevant in the digital era: As virtual worlds function as an extension of the user’s offline environment, a further concentration on Bourdieu’s framework provides an insightful understanding of user’s gains and needs. Consequently, previous work has already concentrated on Facebook use and effects on social capital (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2011). Indeed, social networking sites (SNS) provide a perfect stage to demonstrate the users’ capital, as its expression is stable, can be planned, controlled and modified in every detail. Due to manipulation possibilities, users do not trust textual self-reports, but photographs hold greater credibility and cannot be manipulated that easily: They show the capital a person possesses. We thus focus on user’s expression of economic, social and cultural capital within photographs uploaded on Facebook and the impressions they trigger in significant others. One promising approach to the explanation and analysis of potential effects of such images in SNS is the concept of visual framing characterized as process and/or strategy that visually highlights certain interpretation patters and facilitates information processing (Entman 1993; Coleman 2010; Reese 2001). Based on this, profile pictures in SNS should not only be used for intentional strategic self-representations, but should also visually frame the perception, interpretation and evaluation of the provided information by others. Our methodology involves a (A) preliminary study and (B) a qualitative survey: (A)      Study A was conducted to identify authentic photographic material that expressed economic, cultural and social capital. Pictures were chosen from Facebook (the permissions of each author was obtained) and rated due to their adequacy to express economic, cultural and social capital by an independent sample of 80 undergraduate students. Six photographs which fulfilled the requirements best were chosen to serve as stimulus material in study B. (B)      Fifteen guided interviews were realized with a theoretically quoted student sample. Visual framing effects were explored, as well as ratings of the social attractiveness and presumptions which intentions the picture posting user might have had. While photographs representing social capital lead to immediate positive evaluation and approval, visuals displaying economic capital are predominantly rejected. Photographs indicating cultural capital receive mixed ratings, depending on the raters predispositions. The presentation will close in a back reference to habitus, as well as visual framing theory and discuss in how far the combination of these two established approaches can broaden the understanding of the communicative function of visuals in SNS.   References Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of social capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. New York: Greenwood. Coleman, R. (2010). Framing the Pictures in Our Heads: Exploring the Framing and Agenda- Setting Effects of Visual Images. In P. D‘Angelo & J. A. Kuypers (Eds.), Doing News Framing Analysis: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives (pp. 233-262). New York: Routledge. Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. A. (2011). Connection strategies: social capital implications of Facebook-enabled communication practices. New Media & Society, 13(6), 873–892. Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43(4), 51–58. Reese, S. (2001). Prolgue - Framing Public Life: A Bridging Model for Media Research. In S. Reese, O. Gandy & A. Grant (Eds.), Framing Public Life. Perspectives on Media and Our Understanding of cthe Social World. (pp. 7-31). Mahwah: Erlbaum.

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