Integrating Social Capital, Impression Management, and Privacy

At this time, my dissertation looks to involve the integration of theories and frameworks related to social capital, impression management, and privacy. Impression management is the easiest theory for me to deal with because I have a strong attraction to Goffman’s dramaturgical framework. While I know that his is not the only framework or theory relating to impression management, at this point in time, it is the framework to which I’m attracted. The big three of the social capital world, based on my own readings, include Bourdieu, Coleman, and Putnam. I tend to lean toward Coleman’s definition of social capital only because it is less egocentric; Bourdieu’s definition and explanation is extremely egocentric and Putnam’s views are at a macro level and include large organizations and groups. Privacy research is a grab bag of ideas and theories composed of a variety of definitions and understandings.

I’m attempting to integrate these theories to explain behaviors in the domain of social networking sites (SNS). SNSs are an extremely hot topic in academia and in the popular press. Facebook is pushing 700 million users and Google is now entering the realm with Google+. The SNS environment is an extremely interesting domain to investigate because

    1. SNS such as Facebook have so may users
    2. The computer-mediated environment presents us with different challenges during interactions than face-to-face interaction
    3. It is a relatively new domain of study and has continued to show growth over the past 7+ years
    4. Popular media has made blanket statements regarding interaction, privacy, and safety within the SNS environment that academicians have set out to examine
    5. Web 2.0 technologies have allowed for a variety of media to be transmitted through the SNS frameworks that affect self-presentation, social capital maintenance, and privacy

While the SNS domain is ripe for investigation, I also feel that a successful integration of these theories will be allow us to examine a variety of computer-mediated environments.

So far I’ve explained that I want to integrate impression management, social capital, and privacy theories and frameworks to investigate computer-mediated environments such as SNS. I’ve left out a crucial component… WHAT will I be investigating? This is the ultimate question and what is giving me the hardest time at the moment.