Durkheim’s Legacy in the Digital Age: the “Elementary Forms” of Digital Communication of Portuguese Senior Users of Social Network Sites
HCI International 2019, 21ST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION
Estados Unidos da América
The present paper investigates the usefulness of the cultural theory of Durkheim to analyze modes of utilization and functions of digital communication, especially through social network sites (SNS), by surveying their capability for normative and social integration. It explores to what extent can the analytical tools of Durkheim’s study concerning the elementary forms of religious life be used to describe, comprehend and explain social media domestication by seniors? It is contented that this approach is especially useful in the analysis of the mediated rites of exchange of digital content, which is itself infused with social meaning. Distinctive uses of symbolic forms on digital communication can be a routine method of peer-sharing and support, a means of reaching out, reinforcing an emotional attachment and the cohesion of a social group that shares an identical cultural code and type of domestication of digital devices. For instance, the content exchanged on SNS and on the internet can be understood, since their popularization, to form a cultural code that constitutes, simultaneously, an element of group cohesion between peers and of segmentation between generations and social groups. Albeit acknowledged analytical problems in functionalist perspectives, it is also argued that their utility lies in the capacity to associate cultural features with tangible forms of social media domestication and motivational aspects concerning that domestication.