Gender Roles and Group Discourse

I'd like to warn readers that I don't really consider this work to be true ethnography. I didn't spend enough time and was too inconsistent with my methods to really consider this quality qualitative work. The theory section, you'll notice, is in many ways very similar to that of my Masters paper - and also draws on some of the same material from Social Capital and the Chief.

Authored by Jeff Ginger
Keywords and tags: Facebook, gender roles, gender stereotypes, sexism, ethnography, interface, digital architecture, group identity, feminism
Revision 1 | Last updated 05.2008 | docx | pdf


The coming of the information revolution has brought numerous changes to everyday life that involve technology.  Today many youth spend large amounts of time on social networking sites (SNS) where they can create digital versions of themselves and interact by sharing media, information, and expressions of their identity.  One way students show and construct group identity is through membership in Facebook groups.  This paper investigates via limited ethnography the happenings in one particularly large and active Facebook group, “There Are Some Things Guys Should Always Do For Girls. Period.” As the analysis here will show, this group holds implications for the perpetuation of gender inequality through the cyberspace medium.  Educators must take heed and learn to understand the new arenas of discourse surrounding gender if they are to effectively reach youth audiences today.

This paper presents a glimpse into this discourse by accomplishing three tasks.  First it gives a background picture of Facebook with statistics and limited substantive analysis.  Second, it presents a literature review pertaining to digital architecture (describing the differences of cyberspace) and some complications surrounding gender.  Third it explains the beginning steps of a corresponding digital ethnography project and its contributions to understanding the perpetuation of gender inequality online.  The author finds that while this study is really just the beginning many valuable insights into user perspectives can be unearthed.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    1. Activity, Roles, and Inequality on Facebook
    2. Substantive Sociological Importance
    3. Structure of This Paper
  2. Background and Description
    1. The Facebook Experience
    2. My Perspective as a Researcher
    3. Groups on Facebook
    4. Origins
    5. Detailed Description of the Site
  3. Theory and Literature Review
    1. Defining Identity
    2. Identity in the Digital World
    3. Identity on Facebook
    4. Gender Identity
  4. Research Questions
  5. Study Design and Methodology
    1. The Limitation of Being a Human Measurement Device
  6. Interpretation and Analysis
    1. Facebook as a Digital Space: Interface
    2. Facebook as a Digital Space: The Environment
    3. Discourse Analysis
  7. Discussion
    1. Evaluation
  8. References
  9. Appendix