All the Web’s a Stage: The Effects of Design and Modality on Youth Performances of Identity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Online Social Networking Sites (SNSs) such as Facebook and Twitter have become increasingly popular in the last decade. Each SNS varies somewhat, with different forms of expression, communication and customization. Different sites may have different priorities, methods of interacting, social features and definitions of what it means to be ‘social’ on their sites.

Methodology/approach: This paper reports on 2 months of exploratory observations and interviews with participants using two of the most popular SNSs; and Paying attention to the modal nuances of the sites and their effect on social interaction and identity portrayal, the focus of analysis is upon how these two sites are interacted with as ‘stages’ for identity performances, and how the varying aspects of design and modality on these interactive sites can result in different multimodal identity performances and social interactions.

Findings: Data revealed that youth are adeptly able to negotiate the different modal options presented to them online, yet the temporal aspects presented by the design of the site, the differing definitions and priorities in the framing of identity presented by the SNSs, and the modal choices present across the two sites resulted in markedly differing presentations of identity to markedly differing audiences.

Originality/value: This research demonstrates the impact of modality and design on how we act and interact, and highlights that as Digital Sociologists and Researchers, we should be careful not to treat all Online SNSs the same, but pay attention to the plethora of nuances these sites offer as stages for identity performances.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTechnology and Youth: Growing Up in a Digital World
EditorsSampson Lee Blair, Patricia Neff Claster, Samuel M. Claster
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78560-264-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-78560-265-8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

Publication series

NameSociological Studies of Children and Youth
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN (Print)1537-4661


  • Digital Sociology
  • Online Identity

Cite this