Accepted paper:

Unfolding the collective self in the information age: the case of Siena's neighborhoods


Tobias Boos (Free University Bolzano-Bozen)

Paper short abstract:

Presenting the case of the online presences of Siena's neighborhoods it is argued that unfolding digital collective selves are performative practices of positioning collective identities on the local and global stage. In the web these neighborhoods create private looking public online selves.

Paper long abstract:

Inside and outside pressures make it essential for neighborhoods which are in the focus of public interest to create a presence on the WWW. Presenting the case of the web pages of the contrade of Siena, the neighborhoods of Siena's city center which are the main protagonists of the famous festival Palio di Siena, it is argued that online representations are performative practices of forming and controlling collective identities. The study indicates that the WWW, in terms of a phenomenological perspective, is a new temporal and spatial horizon inhabited by collectives imposing on them special ways to unfold their collective selves. Besides of being influenced by the audience and technology, the online self is intimately tied to the offline self. The WWW is a media with a potential global range enabling communities to spread their ideas about themselves to a vast variety of audiences which blend online, according to Meyrowitz (2005), to a "generalized elsewhere". Entering the global stage, which is inherent in the code and logic of the technology "WWW", requires particular styles of representations which are called by Miller and Slater (2001) "expansive realization", meaning that pictures, videos and texts exhibited online are carefully selected, in order to position their unfolded collective self at the local and global stage without loosing control over it; the contrade create private looking public online selves. The present study bases on fieldwork curried out in Siena 2014, 2015 and 2017 as well as on an analysis of the contrade's web pages.

panel Digi02
Changing features? Performing the self in digital culture [SIEF WG Digital Ethnology and Folklore] [P+R]