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Virtual Communities as Safe Spaces Created by Young Feminists: Identity, Mobility and Sense of Belonging

  • Raquel Miño-Puigcercós
  • Pablo Rivera-Vargas
  • Cristóbal Cobo Romaní
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)

Abstract

Young people often use online social networks to extend their social relationships beyond geographical limits and to explore their interests with people that are not part of their local community. In some cases, young people feel that belonging to online communities may serve as a refuge, a safe and stable place, in a modern society where everything else is moving. In this chapter we analyze how a sense of belonging develops for young members of virtual communities, as well as what mechanisms of regulation and self-regulation are adopted by young people actively constructing their identities in online spaces. We draw on the results of an ethnographic case study of Feminismes, a Facebook group with high participation of Spanish youth, aged between 15 and 29 years old. We aim to contribute to the intersection between sociology, education and technology, from the theoretical perspective of belonging, and by drawing upon social theories that approach the changing nature of the late modernity, and new ways of social participation. The results of our study indicate that a shared sense of belonging to a community that encourages personal expression in the face of oppression may make social bonds stronger. Nevertheless, creating safe spaces online also raises some contradictions between feeling free and establishing boundaries, or between promoting social inclusion as well as social fragmentation.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raquel Miño-Puigcercós
    • 1
  • Pablo Rivera-Vargas
    • 1
  • Cristóbal Cobo Romaní
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.University of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Ceibal FoundationMontevideoUruguay

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