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Socially Mediated Visibility in Socially and Politically Authoritarian Societies | Annenberg School for Communication
Increased visibility is arguably the most significant affordance of social media and a large body of scholarly work has sought to understand how individuals deal with the effects increased visibility in terms of concern for privacy as well as the ability to broadcast to wide audiences. Much of this work explores how pre-social media norms are applied, for better or worse, to socially mediated spaces. The presented projects also seek to understand how pre-existing norms are enacted in social media, especially with regard to visibility, but in a different context. This project is set in a society — Azerbaijan — in which a norm of interpersonal as well as governmental surveillance has not only existed for a long time, but “permeates life” and is a part of “the dominant organizing value in society.“ Moreover, surveillance is part of enforcing societal behavioral codes, for which non-compliance results in severe punishment. The increased visibility afforded by social media has amplified and economized both interpersonal and government surveillance, making the risk associated with behavioral code non-compliance and likelihood of punishment much greater. Given the norm of surveillance and these higher stakes, Azerbaijanis make choices about online behavior that are of theoretical importance to our broader understanding of online behavior. Pearce will present two studies on visibility in an authoritarian environment: 1) through an Impression Management framework, how honor is performed online, and 2) how social media complicates the concealment/disclosure of stigmatized political identities.