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Youth and Facebook: The Impact on the Public Private Distinction - Tharindi Udalagama

Youth and Facebook: The Impact on the Public Private Distinction - Tharindi Udalagama

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Published by TheYRC
Abstract of paper to be presented at the Young Researchers' Forum 2012
Abstract of paper to be presented at the Young Researchers' Forum 2012

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: TheYRC on Jan 18, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
& 21
January, 2012Western Province Aesthetic Resort, ColomboSession: The Personal and the Public Date: 21
January, 2012Time: 3.30pm-4.30pm
To register for YRF 2012 and to find out more details please visit
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
Youth and Facebook: The Impact on the Public Private Distinction
Tharindi Udalagamatharindi.udalagama@gmail.com The society as we know it is changing rapidly, the speed of change is beyondcomprehension as the speed of information is governing every sphere. Thedevelopments in information processing, storage and transmission of informationtechnologies in everyday life has made society highly networked with the convergenceof telecommunication and computing that links banks, homes, offices, factories, shopsand the like (Nayar 2004). As John Naisbitt suggests (1984; cited in Nayar 2004: 48)
computer technology is to the information age what mechanization was to the industrialrevolution
”. Information networks link together different locations within and between
offices, a town, a region, a continent even the entire world (Webster 2002). Theconstraint of the clock and distance have been radically relieved, organizations as wellas individuals are capable of managing their affairs effectively on a global scale. It isunderstood that Information and Communication technologies have dominated andreshaped society in a manner that social change is inevitable. The effects of thesechanges have affected the formation of private and public spheres especially in the livesof the young. The forte of this paper is to unravel its impact on the formation of thepublic and the private spheres, especially in the lives of its young users in Sri Lanka,with the findings of a conducted qualitative inquiry in the years 2009-2010 on the web
based social network called „Facebook‟.
The totality of human interactions can be distinctively recognized in the two spheres ofpublic and private domains. The earliest discussions of the division between public and
private spheres date to ancient Greece, where „public‟ referred to the realm of
and „private‟ to the areas of family and economic life. The first recorded uses of theword „public‟ in English identifies the public with the common good in society whilst„private‟ was used to mean privileged, at a high governmental level (Senn
ett 1992). By
The Young Researchers’ Forum 2012
the end of the 17th Century, the opposition of „public‟ and „private‟ was given ameaning that we use to date. „Public‟ meant open to the scrutiny of anyone, whereas„private‟ meant a sheltered region of life defined by one‟s family and frien
ds (Sennett
1992). „Public‟ came to mean interactions outside the life of family and close friendswith complex social groups in the capital city whereas „private‟ meant the interactionswith one‟s family and close friends within the limits of what could be termed as the‟inner social circle‟.
Sennett (1992) correlates the changes in the definitions of the two terms „public‟ and„private‟ with the conditions of
behaviour and terms of beliefs in the 18th Century. Hestates that as the cities grew, and the developed networks of sociability independent ofdirect royal control, places where strangers might regularly meet grew up. This era sawthe building of massive urban parks as an attempt to make streets fit the specialpurpose of pedestrian strolling as a form of relaxation. During this Century coffeehouses, cafes and coaching inns became social centers and the theater and opera housesbecame open to a wide public through the open sale of tickets rather than the olderpractice whereby aristocratic patrons distributed places. Urban amenities were diffusedout from a small elite circle to a broader spectrum of society, so that even the laboringclasses began to adopt some of the habits of sociability, like promenades in parks, whichwere formerly the exclusion provinces of the elite, walking in their private gardens or
„giving‟ an evening at the theater. The changes of social conditions of
behaviour and
beliefs of an era determine the regulation of the „public‟ and „private‟ spheres. In the
contemporary age of information, a similar change has occurred in determining the
„public‟ and „private‟ spheres with the spread of Information and Communication
In today‟s context the most talked about Information and Communication Technology
are the web-based social networks; Twitter, Facebook, My Space, etc. Preliminaryobservations revealed that the most popular social networking site among the computerliterate Sri Lankan youth with access to the internet is Facebook. The founders of

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