Kujuteldava kasutaja suhtlusportaali profiililoome analüüs loominguliste uurimismeetodite abil



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Tartu Ülikool


Identity Construction for an Imaginary Character in a Social Network via New Creative Research Methods. Social networks are very popular among young people and they use different textual and visual materials on these sites to create their virtual identity. As the feedback from others is really important they think carefully what information they post on their profiles. The aim of this bachelor thesis was to examine what elements young people use for their virtual identity using new creative research methods and to analyse the potential of the method. The theoretical part of this study gives an overview of identity and how to construct it, describes social networks, explains what are projective techniques, new creative research methods and describes previous researches with this method and its positive and negative sides. Research questions are also introduced. In order to gather empirical data a workshop was held. The workshop was part of an international research project - the GTO project (2009-2012). University of Tartu (Estonia) and University of Södertörn (Sweden) researchers are carrying out a research in order to understand better how gender and age is constructed among tweens in Estonia and Sweden. The Estonian workshop was held in Tartu and 19 students aged 13 took part of it. In the first stage students were asked to create and draw an imaginary character who was 10 years old and to describe all the elements, characteristics, hobbies, interests that the students thought were important. In the second stage their character was now 12 years old and the students were asked to describe what had happened to their character in these two years and what online sites do their characters use. They could also use laptops and mobile phones. In this stage the students decided to create a profile for their characters to different social networks (Rate and Facebook). In the third stage their characters were 14 years old and students were asked to change their online identities or create a new profile for them. At the end of the workshop students had to describe their characters and explain their choices. The results showed that students shared little information about their 10-year-old characters, just where they live, their age and school. For older characters the information was more versatile – more additional information was added, also different hobbies and interests were shared. Friends and pictures played an important part on their profile. For their 10-year-old characters students had to draw the social networks and profiles but for the older ones they could use real sites and they did not have to think about what information to share. The workshop also showed that friends and communcation with them plays an important role in tweens’ lives. In the third stage the main focus was on commenting each others activities and chatting. Students copied different elements from each other and followed each others activities but this is how it works in real life also as people often follow what their friends and acquaintances do online. New creative research methods gave students freedom, time to think and the opportunity to change and improve their choices. Because of that the results were thorough and versatile. They could use their imagination and discuss their choices in groups. Their answers and interpretations played an important role in analysing the data. Because of the abundance of the elements and lack of time researchers could not ask about all the choices students made and that’s why they had to use their own explonations in some cases. Data analysis definitely needs more attention and perhaps even a new interpretation method. Thanks to new creative methods students could show us what they thought was important when creating a virtual identity. The method made students more interested in the research and made it more fun for them as they visited their characters’ profiles even after the workshop.