Computer-mediated communication and social identity

Russell Spears, Martin Lea and Tom Postmes

in Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199561803
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191743771 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Computer-mediated communication and social identity

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  • Social Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology


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This article argues that social identities not only populate computer-mediated communication (CMC) and the Internet, but they often thrive there, both by designation (of identity: the cognitive dimension) and by design (the strategic dimension in which identities and their agendas are contested). This means that far from being eliminated in CMC, the group and its effects often shine through in CMC (intragroup cohesiveness and conformity, intergroup contrast, and competition). In terms of status and power differentials this can mean that the power and status relations associated with categories are reinforced, both cognitively, by being tied to the roles and relations associated with these identities, and strategically, by the surveillance which CMC can sometimes bring.

Keywords: CMC; Internet; social identities; power; status

Article.  11354 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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