Elisenda and Begonya will present a paper at the First ISA Forum organized by the International Sociological Association (Barcelona, 5-8 September, 2008).
Our paper presents an ongoing research about the presentation of the body on the public spaces of the Internet, paying special attention to the profiles of websites devoted to the establishment of emotional or sexual interactions. These on-line profiles are a good setting for the analysis of how people use the representation of the body to perform gender, sexuality and self identity.
In online platforms centered on personal relationships, body and embodying practices are determinant for our understanding of the relations between humans, technologies and social life. Parting from the goffmanian concept of “presentation of self”, we will focus on how bodies are constituted as objects of consumption, interchange and power in settings where gender identity is performed through visual representations of the body and textual descriptions of one’s self.
We will focus on the discursive and representational strategies of participants when “filling up” the standard profiles that these sites offer by default and how they negotiate or “skip” their rigidity to present themselves to possible partners, the perception of these portraits as authentic or playful and how social and technological patterns shape users’ practices. By doing so in particular sites (Spanish and international online dating websites used by Spanish speakers), we will learn how human bodies and their digital representations construct a basis for emotional relationships. In sum, the paper aims to contribute to the understanding of how embodied practices of gender and identity are intertwined with digital technologies.