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Accepted Paper:

Negotiating kinship online: bridal homes and marital woes on a Facebook group  
Gulay Taltekin Guzel (Bilkent University) Alev Kuruoğlu (Bilkent University)

Paper short abstract:

We investigate a Turkish online community in which women discuss home decorations and family relationships. We argue that kinship is regulated and negotiated through expertise formed and practiced in this forum; and also that strangers are accepted into one’s circle of intimacy.

Paper long abstract:

How is kinship and intimacy regulated and negotiated on a semi-public online forum? We investigate the "closed" facebook group "Yeni Gelin Evleri ve Çeyizleri" (New Brides' Homes and Dowries), a community with the stated purpose of discussing home decoration and dowries in Turkey. In the Turkish context, the bride (and her family) is traditionally responsible for furnishing part of the home - such as the bedroom - and is also expected to have prepared, along with her mother, a dowry composed of knitted, embroidered, and crocheted household textiles. Preceding the wedding ceremony, the dowries are placed in full display within the furnished home, and the home is made available for visits from family members, relatives, and friends - a practice called "dowry display" (çeyiz sermek / sergilemek).

In this group, women post photos of their (almost-)furnished homes, and ask for opinions. They display their dowries, in a manner akin to the dowry display ritual. As such, complete strangers are incorporated into the wedding preparation practices, which previously lay within the boundaries of intimate circles.

The group is used for an additional purpose: discussing relationship negotiations amongst family members. Young women post messages about strained relationships with their significant others, as well as their in-laws. Other members discuss what appropriate actions might be taken, and share their own experiences. As such, we argue that not only is kinship regulated through expertise found and practiced through this forum; strangers are also taken into one's circles of intimacy.

Panel P059
Kinship: taking stock in the light of social media
  Session 1