Negotiating Privacy Through Phatic Communication. A Case Study of the Blogging Self
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- Lomborg, S. Philos. Technol. (2012) 25: 415. doi:10.1007/s13347-011-0018-7
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The article provides an instructive in-depth analysis of communicative practices in the personal blog. Its aim is to document the discursive dynamics and interactional ethics of blogging, with a specific focus on negotiations of the blogging self in-between public and private. Based on key findings from an empirical case study of personal blogs, the article addresses the negotiation of the blogging self from three interdependent perspectives: the network structures, patterns of interaction, and thematic orientations of the blog. Instead of approaching the online self as the individual blogger’s self-presentation to an often unknown and unfamiliar audience, I analyse and discuss the ‘blogging self’ as a relational and collaborative accomplishment, as something that is constantly subject to negotiation between author and readers, and is framed by the blog as a communicative genre. The theoretical foundation for this relational approach to the self is inspired by the work of sociologist Georg Simmel on how individuals attune to their networks of affiliation in a process of socialisation (Simmel 1955). The article contributes to the discussion of ethical behaviour and privacy protection in social media by highlighting the role of phatic communication in the blog. Specifically, I demonstrate how participants in the blog network negotiate and maintain an ethos of privacy protection in and through practices associated with the phatic. They do this by adhering to a ‘principle of sociability’, allowing them to experience their communication as personal but not private.