Towards a Sociological Understanding of Social Media: Theorizing Twitter

Murthy, Dhiraj. 2012. Towards a Sociological Understanding of Social Media: Theorizing Twitter. Sociology, 46(6), pp. 1059-1073. ISSN 0038-0385 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article presents the first steps towards a sociological understanding of emergent social media. This article uses Twitter, the most popular social media website, as its focus. Recently, the social media site has been prominently associated with social movements in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria. Rather than rush to breathlessly describe its novel role in shaping contemporary social movements, this article takes a step back and considers Twitter in historical and broad sociological terms. This article is not intended to provide empirical evidence or a fully formed theoretical understanding of Twitter, but rather to provide a selected literature review and a set of directions for sociologists. The article makes connections specifically to Erving Goffman’s interactionist work, not only to make the claim that some existing sociological theory can be used to think critically about Twitter, but also to provide some initial thoughts on how such theoretical innovations can be developed.

Item Type:



computer-mediated technology, Goffman, self-production, social media, Twitter

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



24 September 2012Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 Oct 2013 22:42

Last Modified:

18 Feb 2014 09:55

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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