Governing self : SNSs as tools for self-formation

Sauter, Theresa (2013) Governing self : SNSs as tools for self-formation. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis investigates how modern individuals relate to themselves and others in the service of shaping their ethical conduct and governing themselves. It considers the use of online social networking sites (SNSs) as one particular practice through which people manage their day-to-day conduct and understandings of self. Current research on the use of SNSs has conceptualised them as tools for communication, information-sharing and self-presentation. This thesis suggests a different way of thinking about these sites as tools for self-formation. A Foucaultian genealogical, historical and problematising approach is applied in order to explore processes of subjectivation and historical backgrounds involved in the use of SNSs. This is complimented with an ANT-based understanding of the role that technologies play in shaping human action.

Drawing new connections between three factors will show how they contribute to the ways in which people become selves today. These factors are, one, the psychologisation and rationalisation of modern life that lead people to confess and talk about themselves in order to improve and perfect themselves, two, the transparency or publicness of modern life that incites people to reveal themselves constantly to a public audience and, three, the techno-social hybrid character of Western societies. This thesis will show how some older practices of self-formation have been translated into the context of modern technologised societies and how the care of self has been reinvigorated and combined with the notion of baring self in public.

This thesis contributes a different way of thinking about self and the internet that does not seek to define what the modern self is and how it is staged online but rather accounts for the multiple, contingent and historically conditioned processes of subjectivation through which individuals relate to themselves and others in the service of governing their daily conduct.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 60904
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Kendall, Gavin P. & Adkins, Barbara A.
Keywords: self, self-formation, Michel Foucault, social theory, actor-network theory, digital sociology, social networking sites, social networking, information and communication technology, Arab Spring, governance, ethics, psychologisation
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Division of Research and Commercialisation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 21 Jun 2013 06:32
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 00:54

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