Presentations of the Adolescent Self in Contemporary Society

  • Julianne K. Viola
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Young People and Politics book series (PSYPP)


This chapter addresses how young people present themselves and express their identity to others in contemporary society, and begins to build the concept of civic identity by illustrating the identities of young people. Identity is a personal experience, and the author argues that identity is how young people describe, present, and express themselves. This type of expression is difficult for young people, as adolescence is a time of change and evolution in one’s life, but it is an even more difficult task for young people of color. The author highlights how identity and presentation of the self can be understood in contemporary society, providing a foundation for how young people present themselves as citizens or members of society as well. The case of Martin, a young black male, helps to highlight how young people struggle with their presentation of self in today’s digital era.


Social interaction theory Identity expression Erik Erikson Racial identity 


  1. boyd, d. (2007a). Socializing Digitally. Vodafone Receiver Magazine, 18.Google Scholar
  2. boyd, d. (2007b). Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life. In D. Buckingham (Ed.), Youth, Identity, and Digital Media (The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning ed., pp. 119–142). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  3. boyd, d. (2014). It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, J. D. (1998). The Self. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  5. Côté, J. E., & Levine, C. G. (2002). Identity Formation, Agency, and Culture: A Social Psychological Synthesis. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  6. Davies, C., & Eynon, R. (2013). Teenagers and Technology. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davis, K., & Weinstein, E. (2017). Identity Development in the Digital Age: An Eriksonian Perspective. In M. F. Wright (Ed.), Identity, Sexuality, and Relationships Among Emerging Adults in the Digital Age (pp. 1–17). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.Google Scholar
  8. Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth and Crisis. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  9. Flanagan, C. (2013). Teenage Citizens: The Political Theories of the Young. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Gardner, H., & Davis, K. (2013). The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gil-Lopez, T., Shen, C., Benefield, G. A., Palomares, N. A., Kosinski, M., & Stillwell, D. (2018). One Size Fits All: Context Collapse, Self-Presentation Strategies and Language Styles on Facebook. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 23(3), 127–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  13. Goffman, E. (1978). The Presentation of Self to Others. In J. G. Manis & B. N. Meltzer (Eds.), Symbolic Interaction: A Reader in Social Psychology (3rd ed., pp. 234–244). London: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  14. Hasebrink, U., & Paus-Hasebrink, I. (2007). Young People’s Identity Construction and Media Use: Democratic Participation in Germany and Austria. In P. Dahlgren (Ed.), Young Citizens and New Media: Learning for Democratic Participation (pp. 81–101). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittani, M., boyd, d., Cody, R., Herr-Stephenson, B., et al. (2010). Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. James, C. (2014). Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, Technology and Friendships: Video Games, Social Media and Mobile Phones Play an Integral Role in How Teens Meet and Interact with Friends. Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
  18. Loader, B. D. (2007). Young Citizens in the Digital Age: Disaffected or Displaced? In B. D. Loader (Ed.), Young Citizens in the Digital Age: Political Engagement, Young People and New Media (pp. 1–17). London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Luyckx, K., Gandhi, A., Bijttebier, P., & Claes, L. (2015, March 29). Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in High School Students: Associations with Identity Processes and Statuses. Journal of Adolescence, 41, 76–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marcia, J. (1980). Identity in Adolescence. In J. Adelson (Ed.), Handbook of Adolescent Psychology (pp. 109–137). New York: Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  21. Paulhus, D. L., & Trapnell, P. D. (2008). Self-Presentation of Personality: An Agency-Communion Framework. In O. John, R. Robins, & L. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of Personality Psychology (3rd ed., pp. 492–517). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  22. Pew Research Center. (2016). Parents, Teens and Digital Monitoring: Parents Monitor Their Teen’s Digital Behavior in a Number of Ways, but Using Technical Means Like Parental Controls Is Less Common. Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
  23. Rui, J., & Stefanone, M. A. (2012). Strategic Self-Presentation Online: A Cross-Cultural Study. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 110–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rui, J., & Stefanone, M. A. (2013). Strategic Image Management Online. Information, Communication & Society, 16(8), 1286–1305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Schlenker, B. (1986). Self-Identification: Toward an Integration of the Private and Public Self. In Public Self and Private Self (pp. 21–62). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schlenker, B. (2012). Self-Presentation. In M. R. Leary & J. P. Tangney (Eds.), Handbook of Self and Identity (2nd ed., pp. 542–570). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  27. Steers, M.-L. N., Wickham, R. E., & Acitelli, L. K. (2014). Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage Is Linked to Depressive Symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 33(8), 701–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Steiner, P. (1993). On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re a Dog. The New Yorker, 69(20), p. 61.Google Scholar
  29. Tapscott, D. (1998). Growing Up Digital. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  30. Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  31. Turkle, S. (2011). Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  32. Valentine, G., & Holloway, S. L. (2002). Cyberkids? Exploring Children’s Identities and Social Networks in On-line and Off-line Worlds. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 92(2), 302–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Williams, E. F., & Gilovich, T. (2008). Do People Really Believe They Are Above Average? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1121–1128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julianne K. Viola
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Higher Education Research and ScholarshipImperial College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations