"City, self, network: Transnational migrants and online identity work." Proceedings of the 17th ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work & social computing, 2014.

Type: 
Article
Author(s): 
Jessica Lingel, Mor Naaman, and danah m. boyd

This paper uses qualitative interviews with 26 transnational migrants in New York City to analyze socio-technical practices related to online identity work. We focus specifically on the use of Facebook, where benefits included keeping in touch with friends and family abroad and documenting everyday urban life. At the same time, many participants also reported experiences of fatigue, socio-cultural tensions and concerns about maintaining a sense of personal privacy. These experiences highlight how transnational practices complicate context collapse, where the geographic dispersal of participants' personal networks renders visible conflicts of 'flattened' online networks. Our findings also suggest a kind of technology-enabled code-switching, where transnational migrants leverage social media to perform identities that alternate between communities, nationalities and geographies. This analysis informs HCI research on transnationalism and technological practices, as well as the complexities of online identity work in terms of shifting social and spatial contexts.