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Revisiting the concept of ‘sharing’ for digital spaces: an analysis of reader comments to online news

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‘Sharing’ as it relates to the online environment is underconceptualized, and yet has been proposed as a means for understanding how individuals negotiate everyday privacy. To explore this possibility, we gather reader comments to online news accounts, as these offer an opportunity for observing everyday discourse. Using semantic network analysis, we map related concepts, and use these as a basis for revisiting the concept of ‘sharing' as it pertains to the digital sphere. We argue that while ‘sharing' continues to encompass traditional notions of communality and distribution, as practiced in digital spaces, it also takes on an added dimension of subjectivity. Consonant with Foucault's (1988) ‘technologies of the self’, sharing online becomes a reflexive mechanism to know and care for oneself. By considering ‘sharing' in this light, we aim to further the conversation of counter-posing sharing to privacy, especially when envisioned as a boundary management process.
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Keywords: Sharing; self-surveillance; semantic network analysis; technologies of the self

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1007 W Harrison St BSB 1140, M/C 132, Chicago, IL, 60607, USA

Publication date: April 2, 2016

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