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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondNow let's focus on our other field site of this week that I have called Grano, which is in the region of Apulia in the southeast of Italy. This is a region where people have seen a relatively rapid increase in wealth after the Second World War, but suffer considerable unemployment today. There is much in this region's history that perhaps explains why people are most concerned with the way social visibility reflects their social status.

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 secondsFor example, families have always demonstrated their core moral values by keeping a clean and tidy house. Most women then never leave the home before spending considerable time beautifying themselves and selecting their clothes, making sure their outfits are neat, and that their family is equally well-dressed. Dressing reflects the social and economic status they believe that they still have, even though their actual economic position has become more precarious.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 secondSo how is this reflected on Facebook? In the same way people put all this time and effort into their offline appearance, now they have a Facebook page to curate. And they do this by selecting and editing the photos they upload, by showing permanent support to their online friends, and in general being extremely attentive that the way they appear online is very consistent with the way others see them offline. Facebook is seen as a very public platform, and therefore people are considerate in the way they post, which is probably the reason why they don't post so often as in Trinidad.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 secondsSo there is some continuity between the care and attention we say teenagers pay to their selfies in the last video, and the concern most married women have in the way their Facebook page reflects on their family. Nowadays, buying, washing, and ironing clothes, and making sure their family members are impeccably dressed to go out has the double value of ensuring that they look perfect offline when they go into town, and perfect online if anyone takes photos and puts them up on their Facebook page. Both of these now work as a window onto the appearance of their families.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 secondsFacebook is such a big window, people call "vetrina," which is shop window, which, in such a small, low income place as Grano, could be very elaborate.

Skip to 2 minutes and 35 secondsIn Grano, and throughout Italy, people care a good deal about beauty-- not just of the person but also the landscape and the beauty of life. So, again, they use Facebook and its facility with visual postings to express these values. The images they post show how they see their local area as unique, pristine, and untouched, and these values contribute to a regional sense of environmentalism. Similar values have recently also been developed through the slow food movement, since people also care about the beauty and taste of food. In these ways, they try and resist what they see as ugly modernism, such as the construction of the new expressroad to the southernmost point of the peninsula.

Skip to 3 minutes and 19 secondsSo, in this film we have seen that Facebook is regarded by most people in Grano as a window that opens up a view both of the exterior landscape and the interior of domestic family. For both, people follow clear guides as to the level and type of beauty and style they're expected to achieve. In the next video, we shall see that the same thing applies also for the values people are expected to uphold.

Visual posts in south Italy

The previous two videos reveal another finding from our research. We expected that selfies would show people doing largely the same thing in lots of different places, but we found that this was not the case.

Memes, with their tendency to express public morality, initially seemed more local in content. However, on closer inspection we found that there are also local ideas about what constitutes the ‘right’ selfie, while the use of memes appears to be common across our different fieldsites, even though the precise sentiments might differ.

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Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media

UCL (University College London)

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