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Social Media in an English Village

Social Media in an English Village OPEN ACCESS

Daniel Miller
Volume: 2
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition: 1
Published by: UCL Press
Pages: 234
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    Social Media in an English Village
    Book Description:

    Daniel Miller spent 18 months undertaking an ethnographic study with the residents of an English village, tracking their use of the different social media platforms. Following his study, he argues that a focus on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram does little to explain what we post on social media. Instead, the key to understanding how people in an English village use social media is to appreciate just how ‘English’ their usage has become. He introduces the ‘Goldilocks Strategy’: how villagers use social media to calibrate precise levels of interaction ensuring that each relationship is neither too cold nor too hot, but ‘just right’. He explores the consequences of social media for groups ranging from schoolchildren through to the patients of a hospice, and he compares these connections to more traditional forms of association such as the church and the neighbourhood. Above all, Miller finds an extraordinary clash between new social media that bridges the private and the public domains, and an English sensibility that is all about keeping these two domains separate.

    eISBN: 978-1-910634-44-8
    Subjects: Anthropology
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  1. This book is one of a series of 11 titles. Nine are monographs devoted to specific field sites (including this one) in Brazil, Chile, China, England, India, Italy, Trinidad and Turkey – they will be published in 2016–17. The series also includes a comparative book about all of our findings, published to accompany this title, and a final book which contrasts the visuals that people post on Facebook in this same English field site with those on our Trinidadian field site.

    When we tell people that we have written nine monographs about social media around the world, all using the...

  2. There are three primary arguments to this book. The first is that the study of social media¹ suffers from a fundamental and mistaken preconception. Largely it has developed as a study of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and so tries to explain why and how people use these platforms on the basis of the properties or affordances (propensities) of such platforms. In Chapter 2 evidence will be presented to show that neither platforms nor affordances lie at the heart of what social media truly is. Platforms are merely the vehicles by which social media travels. To understand social media...

  3. Typically, when they first arrive at the office for work, men talk about football. After work, when in the pub, they joke at each other’s expense and talk about sex and football. Typically women going out in a group after work will talk about relationships. In both cases a major addition is conversation about what has passed by on the screens of their phones, and indeed what actually comes through to their phones during the course of those conversations. Typically parents at the family dinner try to ask their children about what they did at school that day, to which...

  4. The purpose of this third chapter¹ is to address something that is surprisingly absent in studies of social media – a properly illustrated discussion of the visual material which often dominates what people actually post. We have been slow to appreciate that with digital technologies visual postings are no longer as costly or difficult to reproduce directly. Most books and journal articles, even where they do address visual postings, do not contain sufficient illustrations. Most of the chapters of this book relate to social media as communication, and therefore to the relationships between those who use it. By focusing upon the...

  5. I still have in my possession the diaries I kept for three years of my school days when aged 14 to 16. It turns out that I kept a weekly friends list. I would carefully rank my friends, punishing them for slights, rewarding them for shared confidences, all in secret.¹ We did not have ‘besties’ or ‘BFF’ (Best Friends Forever), but there were precursors.

    For adults, friends are not as often ranked as categorised.² Typically you consider as one group those people you speak to at the school gates about your children; another group may be those from whom you...

  6. Across all nine volumes in this series we decided that Chapter 5 could be used for whatever purpose the individual researcher chose. In most cases this is to highlight a particular interest or finding, but in my case I have decided to use this chapter to demonstrate a potential in our work that is otherwise sometimes assumed to be absent. I am referring to the practical use of our research results to inform and change policy or practice in applied areas – suggestions intended directly to improve the welfare of populations. In short, can our work be useful? For this purpose...

  7. 6 The wider world (pp. 150-179)

    As we reach beyond the more personal use of social media within friendship and the family we encounter a large number of institutional settings which are increasingly exposed to new social media, each with its own patterns of usage and consequences. Two of these, education and healthcare, were encountered in the last chapter. This chapter will examine three more examples: religion, politics and commerce. With five cases considered it should be possible not only to gain a sense of what lies in common across institutional usage, but also how social media needs to be considered with respect to each particular...

  8. One of my final interviews in The Glades was with a village doctor. People had already told me about this doctor, who was said to be extremely easy to talk to. As a result patients flocked to her as someone who would listen to their problems. These days the decline in infectious diseases means that, despite the rise of diabetes and cancer, there are fewer medical issues than there once were. In England going to see a doctor is free, however, so people increasingly come to the surgery claiming a physical problem, but actually to discuss underlying social issues and...