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The Internet United States

American Class Divisions Through Facebook and MySpace 373

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
Jamie found this paper earlier about American Class Divisions and Facebook and MySpace. The paper talks about the history of the two sites, what groups tend to use what site. They also talk about what proponents of each site think of the other. It's actually an interesting read and worth your time.
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American Class Divisions Through Facebook and MySpace

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  • College educated people tend toward Facebook since up until recently it barred people who didnt have a major corporate job, or where in higher ed right?

    And Myspace contained all the rest right?

    That wasn't too hard was it.

    • by galorin (837773) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:17AM (#19636211)
      I tried to RTFA, it reads like a High School student's English essay. I want my ten minutes back.

      • I quit reading when she used the slang "kinda"
      • by WaZiX (766733) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:53AM (#19636745)
        yeah, that article is like soooo Myspace.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by prgrmr (568806)
        Style and vocabularly aside, it was a damn good essay if only because she stated her assumptions up front, pointed out what she couldn't honestly quantify, and set clear expectation about not just the conclusion but about the understanding of her methods. So in that regard, I would say that her paper was more honest than much of the so-called scientific articles on the Internet these days.
      • by giminy (94188) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:45PM (#19637463) Homepage Journal
        Pretty much. I should have stopped when I read the sentence, "Which go where gets kinda sticky."

        The paper lacks citations, makes broad-sweeping overgeneralizations, and doesn't bother with talking to anybody on either facebook nor on myspace to back up its claims. The postscript states that numerous interviews were done, but no numbers are revealed from these interviews. Indeed, there are no quotations from anyone that was the interviewed -- the only instances of quotations marks are around words like "good," and "middle class," and naturally a quote from a completely unrelated book. The only claim that this paper successfully backs is that determining a person's class in America is hard. I wrote better papers when I was in the sixth grade.

        I think it can be summed up with a sentence mid-way through: "I don't have the data to confirm whether or not a statistically significant shift has occurred but it was one of those things that just made me think." If the author doesn't have data, then why are they bothering with making a claim?

        I'm putting slashdot back on my dns blackhole so that the temptation to read is destroyed...
        • by Erwos (553607)
          I agree. The paper is poorly written from a straight grammatical and spelling perspective. If that wasn't bad enough, the research done to reach the conclusions in no way justifies them. If you want data on demographic shifts, you need to _talk to the site owners_ and mine their data. Reading a lot of profiles isn't good enough.

          That said, the ideas it presents are interesting, but the sheer hubris that the author has in thinking anyone would ever cite that work is astonishing.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      I'm college educated, for what that is worth (nothing) and I want them both to drop off the face of the planet. Facebook spams me directly (I opted out, and still get mail) and MySpace seems to predominantly be a means for facilitating spamming. I signed up for both, and now use neither. (It would be nice, too, if MySpace could remember that I was logged in. But it can't.)
  • by Applekid (993327) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:13AM (#19636145)
    I don't quite agree with the premise of class divisions through web sites. The difference between signing up for either is whose registration forms one uses. Socio-economic class divisions are most certainly harder to jump across than just using a web site. And, on the internet, what's to stop someone from being a member of both Myspace and Facebook?

    IANAS (I Am Not A Sociologist), but I think the might mean cultural divisions. Posts to, say, /. differ from Something Awful which differ from Newgrounds which differ from Myspace and so on and so on.

    Is it because the community that forms around the site, which was ultimately created targeted at a demographic?
    • I don't use either much - though I do have accounts on both - but I think until not that long ago, getting on facebook required an email address from a school that they included - so there were things stopping people from being on both. I think, though I may be wrong, in the beginning it was impossible to have a facebook account without being a college student.
    • by plover (150551) * on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:39AM (#19636531) Homepage Journal
      The paper wasn't saying that the web sites are the sole determiner of class, or that the sites were being used to somehow "navigate" class (hey, if I sign up for Facebook I am suddenly a member of the Millionaire's Club!), only that class distinctions are becoming apparent based on samples of each site.

      I think the distinctions the paper's author has noted are simply reflections of class that are held by the participants. The separations are much deeper than a simple web site. As a comedian recently noted with respect to Brittney Spears, "you can take the trash out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of the trash."

      I would be much more interested if the paper's author found people who successfully used social networking sites to actually "change classes". Can you climb the ladder of success by ingratiating yourself with your hegemons, or will you always be snubbed as an "upstart"?

  • heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid&gmail,com> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:14AM (#19636157) Homepage Journal
    I was just telling my sister yesterday: "Facebook is Myspace for people who actually graduated high school."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by businessnerd (1009815)
      I think that sums it up. As funny as it may sound, or as offensive it may sound (i guess to MySpacers), you just saved everyone who hasn't RTFA a lot of time. The author has so much trouble defining the two "classes" and coming up with names for them. It is so much simpler to define than what the author conveys. You want two alternative terms than the "Hegemonic" and the "Subaltern"? How about College/College-bound and NOT College/College-bound users. That's it right there. It's obvious just from the
  • by EricWright (16803) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:15AM (#19636179) Journal
    If the author wants anyone to take her work seriously, she REALLY needs to avoid sentences like "It's so not that easy."

    After reading that nugget, my interest in the topic waned almost instantly.
    • by jandrese (485)
      I'm thinking she has spent so much time reading Myspace that it damaged her mind.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NDPTAL85 (260093)
      So presentation matters to you more than content?
      • by EricWright (16803) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:47AM (#19636657) Journal
        In a serious scientific discussion, yes.

        * Dude, like Facebook is waaay more bitchin' than Myspace if ur in college
        * Among popular social networking sites, Facebook is far more accepted by college students than Myspace

        They both make the same point, right? Which do you think might have a chance of getting serious attention from the scientific community? Which do you think has a chance of getting published in a respected journal? Which one sounds like serious research?

        I don't care how insightful somebody's work may be. If it is too painful to read, it isn't worth it. Come back when you can present your ideas in a coherent, professional manner.
        • I don't care how insightful somebody's work may be. If it is too painful to read, it isn't worth it.
          Some of us purposefully use carefully constructed language designed to cause snobs to glance over our ideas, dude.
          If you judge a book by it's cover, you're not righteous enough to receive the teachings within.
          • by Aladrin (926209)
            So, your anti-snob tactic is to be a superior snob? How's that working for you?
            • So, your anti-snob tactic is to be a superior snob? How's that working for you?
              I also bark at dogs and baytalk at babies.
              It's going great! Thanks for asking :)
        • by ubernostrum (219442) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:37PM (#19637367) Homepage

          In a serious scientific discussion, yes.

          To be fair, I saw this earlier this morning when danah (the author) first linked it off her blog (which I read); the announcement there [zephoria.org] was along the lines of "here's this thing I've been looking into, I don't have anything formal or rigorous yet but I wanted to throw out some thoughts on it real quick", not "this is a serious, finalized paper on the topic".

          Her actual (formally) published work [danah.org] is, as one would expect, of much higher quality.

        • by HoldenCaulfield (25660) on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:12PM (#19637839) Journal
          Context matters too. danah [danah.org] published this as a self proclaimed "blog essay." She's actually done lots of interesting research into social networks and youth, and has many published articles [danah.org]. Having read some of her other work, she can "play the game" and write with an academic voice, following standard formats, and citing as appropriate. Mainly since I've read that she's been an Intel fellow at MIT, interened for Google/Blogger, worked for V-Day, doing her PhD at Berkley after being heavily recruited/encouraged, etc [danah.org], I'll bear with the fact that it's a blog essay, and not a "professional" paper.

          She's also got some interesting view points - there's reasons why she doesn't capitalize i and her name [danah.org]. Some what socialistic, but it's a well reasoned decision, and it's a personal one she's chosen to make, and she seems intelligent enough to deal with the consequences (she'll keep her name in lowercase even for publication, where I'd imagine many may see her as pretentious for doing so, or imitating e.e. cummings or something else). She's even got it legally changed to lowercase.

          Anyway, back to my original point - context matters, and in this case, this is a blog essay. Reading it, it seems apparent to me that she's clearly just exploring the ideas (constantly pointing out her bias), and hoping for some feedback. She knows this isn't going to be published in Nature or Science, and arguably some of the attitudes expressed throughout this thread could be extensions of her ideas about "class" and social networks (or in this case forums).

          In any case, I understand your viewpoint, and respect your decision - but I appreciate the fact she's willing to write up her thoughts and ideas, so that others can read and ponder. Not everything I read has to be a scientific paper or suitable for publication in the NY Times, and blogs and similar venues provide a great tool to make information accessible to the masses. I think the other appeal to me is that a significant amount of "coherent, professional" work is highly filtered and processed - essays like the one being discussed work at the point when the idea hasn't been refined, when it's not ready for print publication, but is still something you want to think about . . .
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Glog (303500)

          I don't care how insightful somebody's work may be. If it is too painful to read, it isn't worth it. Come back when you can present your ideas in a coherent, professional manner.
          Not to burst your academic bubble but the majority of scientific papers are already too painful to read. And, yes, I've read a few in my lifetime. At the same time, I agree with your argument that academia gets a boner from reading sesquipedalian lingo and 1/3-page sentences.
  • by N3WBI3 (595976) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:16AM (#19636191) Homepage
    "She (Nalini Kotamraju) argues that class divisions in the United States have more to do with lifestyle and social stratification than with income. In other words, all of my anti-capitalist college friends who work in cafes and read Engels are not working class just because they make $14K a year and have no benefits. Class divisions in the United States have more to do with social networks (the real ones, not FB/MS), social capital, cultural capital, and attitudes than income." -- There is something to this where people decide to put their income and in what circles they run effect greatly their perceived class. This is not just a matter of being frugal but a matter of using money as a tool and the difference between how you use that tool. I have friends who make 50K who own a boat, two cars, a motorcycle, and their home. They are also constantly in trouble with their debt. If one did not know them and looked at them they would see upper middle class family. even though they are on the cusp of losing everything. I have another set of friends who make less than 20K who rent an appt but have been steadily building assets and paying off student debt, one looking from the outside would see them as being impoverished but in reality they are living sustainability have a ton of time together and live a very rich life (though no boat). When a scientist, especially a social scientist, trys to say this is what class is they are going to be wrong (just as I would be wrong) because being a mamber of a class can relate to any aspect of our being. I am a white male (that puts me in a class), I make $Salary that puts me in a class, I own a home, I am in a mixed race relationship, I have two kids, I take the bus to work, I'm 30, ... All of these things put me in a box and some of those boxes conflict with others...
    • Are you saying a classification system doesn't have rigidly defined borders that never intersect?

      This guys analysis sounds like every Venn diagram I've ever seen. Although you seem to be implying if a Venn diagram has an overlap it must not be true.

      HOARsju
      • by N3WBI3 (595976)
        Are you saying a classification system doesn't have rigidly defined borders that never intersect?

        No, Im saying when talking about a complicated social system like, for example, the US any classification system which is designed will crumble under thoughtful analysis or it will ebe so specific as to be useless. Classification in and of itself works eg: this is a noble gas because it meets the criteria, but when you try to do that to people you get a broke or uselss system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Dude this is america.

      If you drive a BMW and live in an exclusive neighborhood - you are rich.

      If you drive a sensible car and live in sane housing you are poor.

      The guy in the BMW is in debt up to his eyeballs and if him or his wife lose their jobs they will be forclosed on in moments. Some will lose their house if they lose their overtime.

      The guy that drives a car that does the job for him and lives in a place that is safe, nice and meets needs can afford to lose 1/2 the household income and has almost no d
    • I think you meant, "I have friends who make 50K who *are paying on* a boat, two cars, a motorcycle, and their home. They are also constantly in trouble with their debt."

      Confusing ownership with making minimum payments on things someone can never realistically expect to own is one of the biggest problems in our credit-based, buy-now-pay-later culture. You friends don't own that stuff -- the bank does. Just thought I'd point out the critical difference.

      • That explains all of those people I see living in a moderate apartment yet they "own" (aka lease) a Lexus SUV. Too many people trying to live beyond their means.
      • by N3WBI3 (595976)
        I understand this and aside from their mortgage they do own this stuff they were just part of the great American refinancing! so now not only do the have a mortgage but they are upside down on it..
    • Part of the problem is that "class" as a term can refer to numerous things. Social class and economic class are not the same thing. Your examples illustrate that quite well. Economic class has to do with how much money someone possesses (although some may argue with that simplistic definition) and social class is more performative. Social class relates to what the article says about "anti-capitalist college friends who work in cafes and read Engels."

      However, all of these are broad generalizations. Ther
  • Hmm. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mockylock (1087585)
    "MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, "burnouts," "alternative kids," "art fags," punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. Teens who are really into music or in a band are on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or que
    • Geeks on Myspace? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kadin2048 (468275) * <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:14PM (#19637045) Homepage Journal
      There are geeks on Myspace? Really?

      How can anyone with any appreciation for coding -- or, for that matter, aesthetics in general, at all -- go near MySpace? Every time I go there (and I do this every few months, just to see if it's changed) it's like some circus side-show of bad design.

      The whole concept is flawed; the site takes what's inherently repetitive, structured data, and just lets people dump it into tag-soup HTML pages. Facebook's approach is far more elegant, not to mention pleasant to view.
      • by mackyrae (999347)
        I'm pretty sure it's tag soup before anyone puts anything in their profile. Oh, and all those *lovely* "unexpected errors" that within a week you learn to expect because they use ColdFusion on a site that requires something with better scalability.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lawpoop (604919)

        How can anyone with any appreciation for coding -- or, for that matter, aesthetics in general, at all -- go near MySpace?
        Maybe it's the same way an architect might to to a corner pub or a local coffee house. They go for the socializing, not for the great architecture.
  • Some valid points. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:17AM (#19636217)
    Most teens who exclusively use Facebook are familiar with and have an opinion about MySpace. These teens are very aware of MySpace and they often have a negative opinion about it. They see it as gaudy, immature, and "so middle school." They prefer the "clean" look of Facebook, noting that it is more mature and that MySpace is "so lame."

    I never understood the whole appeal of MySpace, other than it's a free blogging site. I also have the same feeling. I had an account once, but if felt more like a place for kids to have fun, than an adult. It was more geared toward "Would you ever kiss X, Y, Z" rather than topics more adult oriented like politics, technology, etc.

    They both seem to fit a niche, so more power to them both. Just not my cup of tea.

    • I find Facebook to be a much simpler interface both to use and to understand once you get past the gated-community-esque security.

      MySpace, to me, feels like Geocities with marginally better hosting capabilities and a wall to post on. The fact that it's being marketed as a 'social network' seems trite when all it's really doing is focusing on the lowest common denominator. Admittedly, I'm sure it's that part that's scaring people, but only because the internet has a much lower barrier to access than it used
  • by garcia (6573) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:19AM (#19636265) Homepage
    It's actually an interesting read and worth your time.

    Only if you're into Social Networking sites. If you're like me and you aren't, the article is just as worthless as the SNSs themselves.

    But because I did take your advice and read the article, here's one little bit that summed it all up for me:

    A month ago, the military banned MySpace but not Facebook. This was a very interesting move because there's a division, even in the military. Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook. Facebook is extremely popular in the military, but it's not the SNS of choice for 18-year old soldiers, a group that is primarily from poorer, less educated communities. They are using MySpace.

    If Facebook is "extremely popular" then it would be used by the "grunts" and not just the officers as the author claims is how it really works in the military. While I personally believe that anyone who uses MySpace is generally a fucking retard that doesn't mean that the "unwashed masses" use only MySpace. I know plenty of intellectuals that love hiding their dirty little MySpace secret.

    Don't bother believing the blurb that it's worth a read. It really isn't. This "article" is nothing more than an attempt to push their political slant/POV. They seriously could have left out the non-sense about the Walmart Nation, etc as it has absolutely nothing to do w/the rest of the article.

    -1 Political Troll
    • Facebook is extremely popular in the military, but it's not the SNS of choice for 18-year old soldiers, a group that is primarily from poorer, less educated communities. They are using MySpace.

      If Facebook is "extremely popular" then it would be used by the "grunts" and not just the officers as the author claims

      I'm trying to find a way to point out what's wrong with your "logic", but I can't seem to think of anything that would reach a mind that would formulate that reply in the first place.
      Still... I'll give it a try:

      1- The author did NOT claim "just" the grunts. The dyke says the grunts mostly use MySpace instead Facebook.
      2- "As the author claims"? Stop implying she's flat out making this up. The chick's got data, dude.
      3- It's a study of class division, you can't get more divided than brass and grunts. Why woul

  • Obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SoapBox17 (1020345) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:21AM (#19636279) Homepage
    Up until recently Facebook only allowed people with .edu emails to sign up. Then, they added corporations. Only relatively recently did they add the ability for anyone to sign up, and use geographical "networks", etc.

    Anyways, its fairly obvious comparing the two sites that one is oriented towards people who are more mature. The site is, for the most part, very structured. There are profile fields, and unless you get into the seedy underbelly of groups, its hard to get any kind of ridiculous "self expression" on Facebook. MySpace, on the other hand, is highl customizable and lends itself much easier to stupid "rebel conforming non-conformist" teenagers and others who never really grew up.

    Its not some evil class division or whatever. duh.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Actually, the quality of facebook users has been declining ever since they opened the site to non-Harvard students.

      I agree. Myspace users wouldn't know vintage port from the turpentine they use to thin the paint on their shanties.
  • Missing 3rd Class (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Vexor (947598)
    By 3rd I don't mean "lower" or "poor". I mean the 3rd class who doesn't use either or gives a damn about either site.
  • Wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:23AM (#19636309)
    This guy REALLY likes the world hegemonic.

    grep hegemonic | wc -l

    :)

    • by 6031769 (829845)
      Presumably you meant to say

      grep -c hegemonic

      as otherwise you'd be wasting a pipe and a process.
  • by Super Dave Osbourne (688888) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:29AM (#19636375)
    Five paragraphs into this 'article' and it became clear the author needs to rethink college and stay in MySpace.
  • "their lack of interesting in having HS students"

    Such quality journalism.
    Also, let's consider the class of people who were out of college by 2005 vs the class of people who are in college as of 2005.

    I haven't had an .edu email in years.
  • by Ynsats (922697) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:36AM (#19636475)
    That paper does nothing, as others have already said, but tell us there there are social classes among people. It's a typical high school social experiment with the different cliques. The paper does nothing of any value beyond giving a short and over-simplifying explanation/history of MySpace and Facebook.

    For real social commentary and study, I would have been more interested to see a multi-year study that showed a group of high school students from all social cliques that tracked usage and content of the personal sites over say 6-8 years to see how far in to life those social cliques extend.

    All this article has done is reinforce the fact that people congregate with other people with like interests. So naturally, if I'm a "freak/geek" and all of my friends are "freaks" and "geeks" and they hang out on MySpace then why would I want to hang out on Facebook with a bunch of "jocks" who have dissimilar interests and little in common with me? This is common sense, not a ground breaking social study.

    Furthermore, the author continues on to use this "disparity" in common use between several sites to show demographic trends which really don't correlate at all. Especially since the author is trying to use the information and "collected data" to show how different social classes use different websites. This is not really shown at all. There is no basis of evidence that the "freaks and geeks" that use MySpace are in a lower societal class. Nor do they show that Facebook has provided a higher earning and networking potential for uses to validate the claim that they are from a higher social class. The author is using inference falsely to show a class separation with no factual support other than essentially "The people on MySpace are weird and not as "beautiful" as the people on Facebook so they must be poor." It's an asinine argument and if that paper was written for course credit, I hope they didn't get a decent grade. If it was written as a professional document for a publication then "ethnographic research " is either a joke science or someone needs to read articles submitted for publication more carefully.

    I feel dumber for wading through that article and I honestly want those 10 minutes of my life back.
    • The paper makes dozens of claims with absolutely no data substantiating them. No studies, no population surveys, no facts on how people choose to use a networking site, and tries to make a "MySpace is for artistic people, Facebook is for boring people" division case based purely on, apparently, how she classifies her friends.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sitarah (955787)
      "It's an asinine argument and if that paper was written for course credit, I hope they didn't get a decent grade. If it was written as a professional document for a publication then "ethnographic research " is either a joke science or someone needs to read articles submitted for publication more carefully."

      She's a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley. This paper here is a better representation of her work: http://www.danah.org/papers/WhyYouthHeart.pdf [danah.org]. In it, she discusses her methods for data collection an
    • I've little doubt that this is a paper that was written for a class and not for publication. It is quite shallow and is at the level that I would see my undergraduate students turn in.

      However, I have to disagree with your use of the term "class." I can't speak for the author but typically when academics use the term class they mean social class and not economic class. The two are generally not synonymous. Economic class has to do with how much money someone earns. This seems to be the definition of cla
  • I thought I'd have something cogent to say about Myspace vs. Facebook and sociology, but really all I can come up with is that I like the design of Facebook much better. It seem like someone actually sat down and planned out the user experience. Its an Application. Myspace seems like a pile of crappy HTML mated with a music player and produced a million offspring, each subtly different. Myspace is a glorified homepage, much like the geocities homepages of days gone by. Homeplages Plus spam! That bein
  • Teenagers divide into cliques and label themselves and each other, even online! Film at 11.
  • I'm pre-Web 2.0, so I really don't know the answer to this one.

    Does every high school and college student use MySpace or FaceBook these days? Sure, there's probably some Luddites out there, but is the penetration in the 90+% range?

    Has it really become that huge a phenomenon? I've seen some goofy MySpace pages, but didn't realize that _everyone_ had one.

    Stuff like this really makes me feel like an old fogey. Don't people realize that no one cares what you ate today, who your friends are, or what kind of car
  • I suck at grammar, syntax, and sometimes punctuation. So when I notice just how shitty a job someone has done on all three, we've got a problem. Of course there is always the possibility that this just looks like it was written by a ninth grader.
  • I know it's common practice here for the moderators to pimp up the story, and the crowd tear it apart bit-by-bit. I guess something about thinking that you're smart leads people to be overly critical, but I digress.

    I found the article interesting in that it was an insight into a world I really just don't have time to study -- tweeny and college-kid social sites. It does appear from the anecdotes that the sites are experiencing some kind of market segmentation, but I found the writer limited by her own conce
  • Er. What now? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stonecypher (118140) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rehpycenots>> on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:55AM (#19636775) Homepage Journal
    This is a whole bunch of speculation and personal value divisions presented as if it were a research paper. The problem is, there's no actual research. No data, no information, just a bunch of semi-large words used semi-correctly. The author makes a quick handwaving about how difficult it is to discuss class in America, but actual academics don't have nearly the problem with it that the author does; perhaps the reason the author finds it so difficult to use their data in an academic fashion is not so much about the difficulty of the topic as because the data was never taken in the first place .

    This paper basically says "white rich kids who want to get into college go to FaceBook because they heard MySpace was dangerous, that FaceBook's college social networking was valuable and because they're tired of the gaudy graphics in use there." I'll wait for the book - maybe there'll be something other than guesswork and one writer's nasty stereotypes there. Y'know, like actual evidence.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dr.badass (25287)
      This is a whole bunch of speculation and personal value divisions presented as if it were a research paper.

      It's not a research paper, it's an essay. The citation at the top of the page even says so. Also, the author has done research (see "Methodological Background"), but this article isn't meant to be a presentation of that research. If you want research papers, she's written a few [danah.org].
  • Social networking sites have a life cycle, like nightclubs. They open, they get some cool people, if they're successful they get more cool people and become the place to go, they get greedy and let too many people in, they become uncool and fall out of favor, they limp along in obscurity for quite a while, and finally they close. Formerly-cool social networking sites include AOL, the Well, Geocities, EZboard, Nerve, Tribe, and Friendster. Myspace hasn't grown in a year, and Facebook is still on the way

  • social networking sites network people into hierarchies

    news at 11
  • Class in America (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vegeta99 (219501) <rjlynn&gmail,com> on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:08PM (#19636963)
    You know, this paper could be extended into many different areas.

    As this paper says, class is very hard to define in America - in the United States, class can be more about culture and lifestyle than income or job description.

    I'll give you an anecdotal example. I'm a college student, but during summers, I work in factories as a laborer. In the cafeteria, I look more like a supervisor than a laborer. My car is old, but perfectly clean, inside and out. I keep my clothes as clean as the work allows, and my shirts are usually ironed and tucked in, my boots clean, my hard hat clean. Most of the laborers, who are living on a HIGHER wage than I because I'm usually a temp worker, do not. What is important to them is not their aesthetics - especially at work. What is important to them is enjoying their lives. Work is secondary, and not really enjoyable. I'll agree with them on the second part, but where the division is in the importance of work. They have a job, not a career.

    This "paper" hits on this. If your work is important to you, you have to follow that work. I haven't read the book by Paul Willis that the paper sums up, but it's true. I am a high school dropout, I planned on joining the military as an enlistee, not as an officer candidate. But his summary is quite correct in my case. I made that "class jump" - I'm not made to do mundane labor 60 hours a week, I have a brain and I need to use it.

    Now, when I DO go to my hometown, my old friends are, well, not my friends anymore. They don't understand how I can value paying 250% of my yearly income to go to SCHOOL, how I can spend months preparing for a fifteen minute presentation, much less fathom seven years of training for the ability, not the guarantee of a job. They don't see the point in dedicating oneself fully to the "system" because they think it will stick them in some sort of hierarchy and force them to follow rules. What they unfortunately miss is that the blue collar circle sticks them in an even more restrictive hierarchy. You don't do consulting work as a press operator!

    This certainly fits with the division seen between MySpace and Facebook. MySpace allows one to do whatever they want with their page - conventions be damned. Facebook, on the other hand, has a set style and layout (or did. The applications are slowly changing that). But when push comes to shove, the "hierarchy" and layout of Facebook gives users a bit more useful information - try finding someone's AOL s/n on MySpace if you've never seen their page before, and then try the same on Facebook!
  • Danah's usage of the word "sticky" and "stickiness" in the first and second paragraph may cause some confusion. I gather she means uncomfortable or 'hard to differentiate' rather than the other meaning of stickiness, which pertains to websites and the amount of time a visitor spends on the site per visit (YouTube is a stickier website than, say, last.fm because visitors spend more time there).

    Other than that, great read, and very perceptive.
  • Between the childish writing technique, this offered me an insight; America is far more class bound than I thought (far more class bound than the UK).

    As a person just leaving sixth form (last two years of "high school") in the UK, it seems to me that the reasons behind using myspace/facebook here in the UK are different. Most people I know, inside or outside of school and work have a myspace. A few people have a Facebook, but that's more to do with being frustrated with the poor design of myspace than s
  • Here we are at two topics that I'm very interested in: The American class system and social networking. The first because of my politics, and my own constantly shifting class background. The second because of my work on Appleseed [sourceforge.net], an open source social networking web software that uses an open, distributed model.

    I have a number of serious issues with this analysis, not the least of which is the idea that social capital is more important than actual capital in determining class relationship. While I gran
  • "It's actually an interesting read and worth your time." That's one of those statements that, as soon as they are said, invalidate themselves. I'm sure there's a word for it but I don't know what it is...
  • Nothing new? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wytcld (179112) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:21PM (#19637165) Homepage
    Most of the modded-up comments so far are of the "Nothing new here" meme. These demonstrate the problem of even getting traction on a vocabularly to discuss class issues in America. People tune it out, perhaps think its always been as it is now so why even discuss it. But it hasn't always been this way. The last time such a high proportion of American wealth went to the top 1 percent of the population was just before the Great Depression. America used to have much greater social mobility - the likelihood that a kid from a poor background would become rich and socially respected - than anywhere else. Now America has slipped behind most of Western Europe in social mobility - behind even such more-obviously class-based societies as the British and the French, and way behind where America itself was in the mid-20th century.

    This stratification shows up across the culture. But it has not always been here to the extent it is today. Economic historians claim that stratified societies - particularly those where children are locked in to the strata of their parents - are in the longer run neither so stable nor so successful as more egalitarian nations. America's own past success vis a vis Europe is cited as a prime example. If that's the case, we might want to take America back to a more egalitarian version. Back when America was more egalitarian there was a more unified cultural aesthetic - splitting more on generational than class fractures (which is to say, on direction of progress but still assuming that progress belonged to all). Now, if the fine article is accurate (I'm too old to know) there is a distinct split in aesthetic and sensibility, as demonstrated in the SNS's - one which favors acceptance of our new degree of social stratification. If we want to avoid developing a large permanent underclass, we should look at reversing that.

    The article makes the useful point that social identification is not tightly linked to income. But the income equation is itself troubling for egalitarians: In the past 40 years the GDP per capita has doubled. Yet in that time the median income has stayed level. We're twice as rich, per person, as a nation. But those on the middle and lower parts of the income curve have seen none of the gain. This isn't to say that being median-income in the '60s was a bad life; nor that it's a bad life now. But it raises a very curious question of who has made off with all that gain in national wealth. And there's a corollary: How have our cultural institutions enabled them, wittingly or not?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SonicSpike (242293)
      The lower and middle classes have indeed seen much of the gain from our economic boost. If one is in the upper class, technology doesn't change one's life very much. However now every poor person has a cell phone and probably a TV, and possibly a car. 100 years ago, that of course wasn't the case. So in that regard all of society has benefited by a better economy and more advanced technology.

      And social mobility is restricted in the US by a single factor: tax (specifically the income tax). The income tax dis

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