Creating a Self-Image: Face-Work and Identity Construction Online

Saskia Kersten, Netaya Lotze

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Abstract

In this article, we build on research arguing that linguistic self-representation on social media can be viewed as a form of face-work and that the strategies employed by users are influenced by both a desire to connect with others and a need to preserve privacy. Drawing on our own analyses of usernames as well as that of others which were conducted as part of a large-scale project investigating usernames in 14 languages (Schlobinski/T. Siever 2018a), we argue that these conflicting goals of wanting to be recognised as an authen­tic member of an in-group while retaining a degree of anonymity are also observable in the choice of username. Online self-naming can thus be viewed as a key practice in the debate of face-work on social media platforms, because names and naming strategies can be stud­ied more readily than broader and more complex aspects, such as stylistic variation or text-image interdependence, while at the same time forming part of these.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-156
Number of pages34
JournalJournal for Media Linguistics
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • onomastics
  • usernames
  • self-naming
  • face-work
  • digitally mediated interaction

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