Facebook vs. MySpace: ethno-sociologie comparée

24Déc07

ou ‘Facebook, c’est pour les »bouffons »‘, comme dirait A. Finkielkraut.

L’essai de Danah Boyd , Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace, soutient que le choix de Facebook ou de MySpace reflète au moins autant qu’une différence d’âge une différence socio-culturelle. Le billet du blogue de Danah Boyd qui annonçait l’essai en juin dernier a reçu à date 308 commentaires.

Il y a un mois [mai 2007] l’armée a interdit l’usage de MySpace, mais pas de Facebook. Ce fut une décision parce que la division dans l’armée reflète la division dans les lycées [high schools]. Les hommes de troupe sont sur MySpace; les officiers sont sur Facebook. Facebook est très populaire dans l’armée mais ce n’est pas le SNS d’élection des soldats de 18 ans, un groupe qui provient en premier lieu des communautés les plus pauvres et les moins éduquées.

Dans les années 70, Paul Willis a étudié la jeunesse dans les classes laborieuses britanniques et a écrit un livre intitulé « Learning to Labor: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs« . Il soutenait que les jeunes des classes laborieuses rejettent les valeurs culturelles hégémoniques parce que c’est le seul moyen de continuer à faire partie de la communauté au milieu de laquelle ils vivent. Autrement dit, si vous ne savez pas que vous pouvez réussir en faisant un saut culturel, ne vous en faites pas: vous perdriez tous vos amis et votre communauté dans l’opération. Cette analyse résonne fortement dans le contexte de la société américaine contemporaine. J’aimerais connaître le moyen de réparer ça.

Plus d’extraits (en anglais) après le saut.

Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace Annotated

For all of 2005 and most of 2006, MySpace was the cool thing for high school teens and Facebook was the cool thing for college students. This is not to say that MySpace was solely high school or Facebook solely college, but there was a dominating age division that played out in the cultural sphere.

The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other « good » kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. They are part of what we’d call hegemonic society. They are primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities.

MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, « burnouts, » « alternative kids, » « art fags, » punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn’t play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn’t go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. These are the teens who plan to go into the military immediately after schools. Teens who are really into music or in a band are also on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.

Most teens who exclusively use Facebook are familiar with and have an opinion about MySpace. These teens are very aware of MySpace and they often have a negative opinion about it. They see it as gaudy, immature, and « so middle school. » They prefer the « clean » look of Facebook, noting that it is more mature and that MySpace is « so lame. » What hegemonic teens call gaudy can also be labeled as « glitzy » or « bling » or « fly » (or what my generation would call « phat ») by subaltern teens. Terms like « bling » come out of hip-hop culture where showy, sparkly, brash visual displays are acceptable and valued. The look and feel of MySpace resonates far better with subaltern communities than it does with the upwardly mobile hegemonic teens. This is even clear in the blogosphere where people talk about how gauche MySpace is while commending Facebook on its aesthetics. I’m sure that a visual analyst would be able to explain how classed aesthetics are, but aesthetics are more than simply the « eye of the beholder » – they are culturally narrated and replicated. That « clean » or « modern » look of Facebook is akin to West Elm or Pottery Barn or any poshy Scandinavian design house (that I admit I’m drawn to) while the more flashy look of MySpace resembles the Las Vegas imagery that attracts millions every year. I suspect that lifestyles have aesthetic values and that these are being reproduced on MySpace and Facebook.

A month ago, the military banned MySpace but not Facebook. This was a very interesting move because the division in the military reflects the division in high schools. Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook. Facebook is extremely popular in the military, but it’s not the SNS of choice for 18-year old soldiers, a group that is primarily from poorer, less educated communities. They are using MySpace.

In the 70s, Paul Willis analyzed British working class youth and he wrote a book called Learning to Labor: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs. He argued that working class teens will reject hegemonic values because it’s the only way to continue to be a part of the community that they live in. In other words, if you don’t know that you will succeed if you make a run at jumping class, don’t bother – you’ll lose all of your friends and community in the process. His analysis has such strong resonance in American society today. I just wish I knew how to fix it.




One Response to “Facebook vs. MySpace: ethno-sociologie comparée”


  1. 1 Bling-bling, Glitter & Vernacular Web « bibliothécaire

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