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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
This article asks whether a crisis of intimacy exists in the digital era to provoke an enquiry into theextent to which social media are transforming or transformed by personal relationships. I addressthe nature of late modern intimacy through the lens of ‘friendship’ and consider why Facebookembraces this affiliation. I then ask whether contemporary forms of public intimacy pre-date orare configured by social media. Software-centred approaches including algorithmically engineeredfriendship are considered to cast light on public intimacy, privacy and trust. The implications ofcross-cultural ethnographic research by Miller et al. are then considered to highlight user agency.Messaging apps such as WhatsApp have the potential to liberate certain users by controlling groupsize and degree of privacy, as ‘scalable sociality’ in a polymedia environment. I conclude by arguingfor a synthesis of political economic perspectives and cross-cultural studies to emphasise useragency in future research.
Author(s): Chambers D
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: European Journal of Communication
Print publication date: 24/02/2017
Online publication date: 20/12/2016
Acceptance date: 01/12/2016
Date deposited: 08/02/2017
ISSN (print): 0267-3231
ISSN (electronic): 1460-3705
Publisher: Sage Publications
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