Encounters on the social web: Everyday life and emotions online



Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this study examines focused encounters on the social web. It starts from the premise that online interaction can be analyzed through the conceptual lens of a Goffmanian “encounter” but argues that this concept needs to be extended to take into account the online facets of people’s social interactions in everyday life. The article explores how frequent participants in social web applications interact with others and manage emotions during these encounters. It achieves this by analyzing the different elements of online encounters: a single visual and cognitive focus of attention, a mutual and preferential openness to verbal communication, a heightened mutual relevance of acts, and an eye-to-eye ecological huddle. The article thus reconceptualizes copresence in online settings. It concludes that the Goffmanian concept of “encounter” needs to be extended in the context of the social web to capture the specific set of strategies and rules that emerge in online encounters.

Beneito-Montagut, R. (2015). Encounters on the social web: Everyday life and emotions online. Sociological Perspectives, 58(4), 537-553.