Student Research Projects

Online Identity and Self-presentation of Gang Members in Social Networking Sites

Student Deborah Sterne
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Sociology
Course SOC 480: Senior Research Project


The Internet has quickly become a part of the everyday life of many people and just about anything can be done online. One way in particular that the Internet has contributed is through the popularity of social networking sites that allow an individual to essentially create a profile and become any one that they want. This is an ethnographic study of how gang members in particular construct online identities and then manage them. I begin with looking at different theories about identity in general which is a fluid concept with evolving definitions. Then I consider work about self-presentation and impression management. These ideas are then applied to information taken from looking at individual Myspace profiles of confirmed gang members. I want to see what kind of information is available as public content on these pages and try to understand how this shapes the way that these individuals portray themselves.