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Social Media in Southeast Italy

Social Media in Southeast Italy: Crafting Ideals OPEN ACCESS

Razvan Nicolescu
Series: Why We Post
Volume: 7
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition: 1
Published by: UCL Press
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    Social Media in Southeast Italy
    Book Description:

    Why is social media in southeast Italy so predictable when it is used by such a range of different people? This book describes the impact of social media on the population of a town in the southern region of Puglia, Italy. Razvan Nicolescu spent 15 months living among the town’s residents, exploring what it means to be an individual on social media. Why do people from this region conform on platforms that are designed for personal expression? Nicolescu argues that social media use in this region of the world is related to how people want to portray themselves. He pays special attention to the ability of users to craft their appearance in relation to collective ideals, values and social positions, and how this feature of social media has, for the residents of the town, become a moral obligation: they are expected to be willing to adapt their appearance to suit their different audiences at the same time, which is crucial in a town where religion and family are at the heart of daily life.

    eISBN: 978-1-910634-74-5
    Subjects: Anthropology, Business, Technology
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Table of Contents

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  1. This book is one of a series of 11 titles. Nine are monographs devoted to specific field sites in Brazil, Chile, China, England, India, Trinidad, Turkey and this one in Italy – they will be published in 2016–17. The series also includes a comparative book about all of our findings, published to accompany the other titles, as well as a book which contrasts the visuals that people post on Facebook in the English field site, with those on the Trinidadian field site.

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

  2. The book series ‘Why We Post’ brings an anthropological perspective to the study of social media, and this study of Grano,¹ a small town in southeast Italy, demonstrates how essential that perspective is in interpreting and understanding the evidence about the use of social media. One of the values of this field site is that the Italians studied here are arguably more concerned with issues of personal appearance and how they look in public than the people living in any of the other eight sites in the ‘Why We Post’ series.² As we will see throughout the book, public appearance...

  3. The small, quiet square of Santa Eufemia is overflowing today. Anxious, dressed-up parents welcome groups of grandparents, cousins and close friends as they arrive with bunches of flowers and small gifts wrapped in shiny paper. They kiss each other with affection, laugh loudly, congratulate each other on their looks and ask where the children are. Everybody is well-dressed: many mothers wear high heels, elegant dresses or blouses and black sunglasses, while fathers wear light white shirts with the first one or two buttons undone, comfortable low shoes and even black shades. After a few minutes’ talk and joyful greetings across...

  4. This chapter examines the main genres of visual postings on Facebook, which is by far the most used public-facing social media in Grano. It shows why, by simply looking and interpreting public postings, we cannot tell much about individual people, but we can understand how they see the society they live in. Facebook postings work towards reinforcing conventional values, such as those represented by Catholicism, family life, tradition and social norms. This contrasts somewhat to the use of other public-facing social media, such as Twitter and Instagram, where people express more individual passions and skills. In this context, what really...

  5. In some ways the previous two chapters pose a problem because they do not really reflect the way anthropologists understand the world. Much of Chapter 2 is concerned with how most people in Grano use publicfacing social media in order to replicate the conformity already seen in their society, and how this conformity varies with age and social status. However, in anthropology this manner of using social media should be secondary to our prime interest, which is the study of relationships themselves as played out in social media. In Grano, as in most places, there are firmly established norms and...

  6. Everybody in Grano would agree that Luana is a beautiful woman. She runs, together with her younger sister and their mother, a fine leather shop in one of the main commercial streets in Grano. The shop was established by her father almost 40 years ago and ever since then it has represented the main source of income for the entire family, bringing in more money even than her mother’s good salary as a teacher of Italian. After completing secondary school, Luana never considered looking for another job or leaving Grano.

    In her early forties, Luana considers herself quite attractive and...

  7. So far we have seen that people distinguish very clearly between different forms of social media in relation to what kind of public or group visibility each one brings. But we have also seen that public-facing social media is only used to display a partial representation of people and their relationships. For example, much of what concerns the local community, such as unemployment, poverty or contested gender relationships is not explicitly articulated in public. Unlike some of the other sites of the ‘Why We Post’ project, especially Trinidad, Brazil and Chile, sensitive issues are always discussed on social media provided...

  8. 7 Conclusion (pp. 177-189)

    The central argument of this book is that social media use in Grano is related to the kind of individuals people see themselves as being. However, looking through the lens of anthropology it has become clear that these individual aspirations are only understandable in relation to very clear social and normative ideals in Grano about what individuals are supposed to do. People use conventional and new technologies to craft themselves according to these ideals. Digital technologies and the online environment have become important in emphasising the human capacity to conform to social expectations. We have seen that most people in...