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Performing the Digital Self: Understanding Location-BasedSocial Networking, Territory, Space, and Identity in the City

Papangelis, K., Chamberlain, A., Lykourentzou, I. , Khan, V-J., Saker, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-7414-2840, Liang, H-N., Sadien, I. & Cao, T. (2020). Performing the Digital Self: Understanding Location-BasedSocial Networking, Territory, Space, and Identity in the City. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 27(1), doi: 10.1145/3364997


Expressions of territoriality have been positioned as one of the main reasons users alter their behaviors and perceptions of spatiality and sociality while engaging with location-based social networks (LBSN). Despite the potential for this interplay to further our understanding of LBSN usage in the context of identity, very little work has actually been done toward this. Addressing this gap in the literature is one of the chief aims of the article. Drawing on an original 6-week study with 42 participants utilizing a bespoke LBSN entitled “GeoMoments,” our research explores the following: (1) the way that territoriality is linked to self-identity; and (2) how this interplay affects the interactions between users as well as the environments they inhabit. Our findings suggest that participants affirmed their self-identity by selectively posting and claiming ownership of their neighborhood through the LBSN. Here, the locative decisions are made related to risk, hierarchies, and the users’ relationship to the area. This practice then led participants to discover and interact with the digital information overlaying their physical environments in a playful manner. These interactions demonstrate the perceived power structures that are facilitated by identity claims over a virtual area. In the main, our results reaffirm that territoriality is a central concept in understanding LBSN use, while also drawing attention to the temporality involved in user-to-user and user-to-place interactions pertaining to physical place mediated by LBSN.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 License.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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