Wednesday, August 25, 2010

White Flight in Social Networks? A Story of Another Digital Divide

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by Anthropology in Practice.

The internet offers the opportunity to study the anthropology of social group formation and chronicle its development in real time. This has been shown recently with Danah Boyd's fascinating study of white flight in online social networks (recently reviewed by Christopher Mims). In an article scheduled to appear in the edited volume Digital Race Anthropology (pdf here), Boyd interviewed a group of teens between 2006-2007 to gauge how they were using social media sites such as Myspace and Facebook as part of her PhD dissertation at UC Berkeley. What she found through her interviews was a distinction that teenagers had made through their use of the sites that was heavily infused with notions of race and class. In a telling quote from one of her interview subjects, a white, middle-class 14-year-old named Kat stated:
It's not really racist, but I guess you could say that. I'm not really into racism, but I think that MySpace now is more like ghetto or whatever.

Read the rest of the post here.