Personal Connections in the Digital Age / Edition 1

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Overview

The internet and the mobile phone have disrupted many of our conventional understandings of ourselves and our relationships, raising anxieties and hopes about their effects on our lives. This timely and vibrant book provides frameworks for thinking critically about the roles of digital media in personal relationships. Rather than providing exuberant accounts or cautionary tales, it offers a data-grounded primer on how to make sense of these important changes in relational life.

The book identifies the core relational issues these media disturb and shows how our talk about them echoes historical discussions about earlier communication technologies. Chapters explore how we use mediated language and nonverbal behavior to develop and maintain communities, social networks, and new relationships, and to maintain existing relationships in our everyday lives. The book combines research findings with lively examples to address questions such as: Can mediated interaction be warm and personal? Are people honest about themselves online? Can relationships that start online work? Do digital media damage the other relationships in our lives? Throughout, the book argues that these questions must be answered with firm understandings of media qualities and the social and personal contexts in which they are developed and used.

Personal Connections in the Digital Age will be required reading for all students and scholars of media, communication studies, and sociology, as well as all those who want a richer understanding of digital media and everyday life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Combining in-depth knowledge of the topic based on decades of Baym's own and others' research with a clear, concise and straightforward writing style that makes it a joy to read, this is the kind of accessible book that many academics would love to have written."
Times Higher Education

"Lively and thought-provoking throughout, this book challenges the myth that ‘cyberspace' dramatically transforms personal connections by revealing, instead, the complex and subtle ways in which people manage social interaction online and offline in response to the affordances of the various modes of communication available."
Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics and author of Children and the Internet

"Something is happening. Do you know what it is? Nancy Baym does, with a book bristling with ideas and authority. Filled with clear, lively writing, she both surveys and advances the field. I learned so much."
Barry Wellman, University of Toronto

"Baym provides us a clear, concise, and thought-provoking discussion of the role of new digital media our interpersonal and societal relationships. She creates a welcome blend of her own and others' research, the affordances and capabilities of new media, historical and technical contexts of the telegraph through the Internet, stable as well as changing societal norms, and her own Internet experiences."
Ronald E. Rice, University of California, Santa Barbara

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745643328
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 7/2/2010
  • Series: DMS - Digital Media and Society Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 196
  • Sales rank: 390,539
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Baym is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas
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Table of Contents

List of illustrations vii

Acknowledgements viii

1 New forms of personal connection 1

New media, new boundaries 2

Plan of the book 6

Seven key concepts 6

Digital media 13

Who uses new digital media? 17

2 Making new media make sense 22

Technological determinism 24

Social construction of technology 39

Social shaping of technology 44

Domestication of technology 45

3 Communication in digital spaces 50

Mediation as impoverishment 51

Putting social cues into digital communication 59

Digital communication as a mixed modality 63

Contextual influences on online communication 66

Summary 70

4 Communities and networks 72

Online community 73

Networks 90

Engagement with local community 92

Summary 97

5 New relationships, new selves? 99

New relationships online 100

Identity 105

Authenticity and relationship 119

Summary 120

6 Digital media in relational development and maintenance 122

Building relationships with people we met online 124

Mediated relational maintenance 131

Uncertain norms 143

Summary 148

Conclusion: the myth of cyberspace 150

References 156

Index of names 177

General index 181

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