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Social solidarity in the age of social media and algorithmic communication

Yu, Junyoung (2020) Social solidarity in the age of social media and algorithmic communication. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The concept of social solidarity is fairly intuitive, yet in scholarly debates the term remains essentially abstracted and under-theorized. Discussion of social solidarity has often been carried out at a normative level, with greater focus on the degree of social support, or the search for singular experience of commonality and shared morality, at the expense of a plurality of views, experiences, communicative actions and social practices. Furthermore, in this debate, little emphasis has been placed on the role of social media platforms, even though their ubiquitous yet invisible feedback loops and algorithmic systems today have become deeply intertwined into our everyday social actions and connections. This thesis aims to re-account for the role of social solidarity in this contemporary context, drawing on analysis of social solidarity, social media, and algorithmic systems, using the notion of ‘interdependence’ as a scaffolding for the primary conceptual revision. To avoid any preconceived normative ideals attached to this term, this thesis takes a bottom-up perspective, situating people’s experiences with social media within a wider context of everyday life and exploring how individuals’ actions and experiences in their social life potentially build up towards something that might be termed social solidarity. In this way, a qualitative methodology, more attuned to the sites where people experience and practice social life is adopted. Findings are derived from a qualitative study of 46 individuals in England, interviewed about their everyday experience with social media. This highlights how their everyday social considerations take place in reference to social media, documenting how their practices have been rearticulated in ways pertinent to social solidarity. It also challenges and deconstructs the dominant view in business discourse of social media as a natural bringer of connection, participation and togetherness.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2020 Junyoung Yu
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Couldry, Nick and Georgiou, Myria

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