Juliano Spyer

Juliano Spyer

i am currently finishing my phd in anthropology, studying social media.

Location england


  • Hi Michele, thanks for the message. It is rather difficult to talk about all the interesting things we learned through our field work, because these online courses cannot be very long. The good news is that all of us had the chance of writing books that allow students to follow their interests and find in-dept information about specific themes. These books are...

  • Hi HIllary, the Why We Post book about social media in an English village mentions how locals attempt to erase class distinction on their photos. You can download the book free here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/social-media-in-an-english-village

  • Hi Kevin, thanks for the message. I presented a lecture at a university about these findings and heard from students the same example you reported - of travelling photos used to display aspiration and upward mobility.

  • That would be a very long trip! Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

  • Jasmin and Velia, thanks for these messages. Our book about social media in Italy has a rich discussion about social status. You should take a look, you can download it free here https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/social-media-in-southeast-italy

  • HI Michelle, I was told once that young middle class people in the US post photos of holiday tickets they purchase. This could be viewed as a similar effort to expose one's aspirations through consumption.

  • Hi Chelsea, yes, but they can reach content available online that they did not have access to earlier. Even if lower income people cannot always have a high end equipment, inexpensive Android phones are available. Interestingly, though, in my field site locals used the internet to learn, but this learning often did not relate to formal education. Even having...

  • Hi Claire, thanks for the message. So your experience is that social media has exposed you to a wider range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Are these new relationships taking place only online or have they moved from online to offline?

  • HI Helen, I'm glad the readings and the course are helping you rethink your ideas and points of view. As the text argues, inequality can be considered based on economic models. And yet it is useful to consider how specific people perceive their position in society and the actual limitations that exist for people to move to a different position.

  • Julia, thanks sharing this very nice personal experience. Most Brazilian academics today are critical about this notion of "new middle class". They argue that what low income Brazilians experienced during the 1990s and 2000s is predominantly an increase in purchase power, but not actual social mobility. I dispute this claim as observing my informants in...

  • hi Hilary, thanks for posting. Could you spare a bit of time explaining how did you notice that your social media friends that moved to the UK are different from you? I think this can become a rich and interesting case to discuss.

  • fantastic example!

  • I dont think Nell meant that people become vegetarians to show off, just that vegetarianism is more common and reflects a class background. Some people might show pride in not being cruel by contributing to the meat industry, others might act the same way because they have managed to buy a new car.

  • hi Heather, the book on the Why We Post series made from the research in England talks a lot about social media and parenting. You can download it free here https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/social-media-in-an-english-village

  • what a nice ethnographic note this was. many thanks for sharing!

  • You also made me think when you say that people in these countries see their jobs as something they need to do to pay bills. I recognise what you are saying and what others commented, at the same time this makes me think about new situations such as how a university degree has become rather common. On one hand college is discussed often in terms of channeling...

  • hi Pauline, thanks for the interesting comment. I'd just add, as you also suggests, that it is problematic to talk in general about such big and diverse countries. I suppose that alongside with cultural backgrounds, you would also find in these places people of various socioeconomic origins and their uses of social media might be different. if you are...

  • thank you for saying this. it is a great thing to hear!

  • HI Laurie, I agree with Nell and would also add that in relation to other Chileans, they might be seen as poor, but my impression is that they have better government support than those in the Brazilian field site: better schooling, better hospitals, earn more money, etc.

  • HI Eduardo, thanks for sharing all this information!

  • HI Mahara, thanks for the comment. I should add that, in relation to the people of the settlement in general, porn, violence and humour are the main subjects of files circulating. What is interesting also is that the sharing of porn, for instance, is not always related with pleasure. Take a look at some of my blog posts as, given the local importance of the...

  • HI Gail, thanks for the comment. As a fieldworker with some experience with low income Brazilian population, I would say men tend to be more outgoing with strangers than women. At least this was the experience my wife and I had. Even for her it took a while to develop relationships with other women.

    Im curious to her what type of research or project took...

  • I am glad to hear that the research results resonates beyond the borders of the field site. thanks for commenting!

  • hi jane, could you expand this comment? I'm curious to know what you mean.

  • Hi Rob and thanks again for being so active here.

    About Brazil, the general agreement among social scientists today is that the name 'new middle class' is totally misleading. Between the 1990s and the 2000s the country experienced a period of prosperity that reached particularly the most vulnerable. However, as anthropologist and historian Lilian Schwarcz...

  • There is a Brazilian composer and artist that said once that "Brazil is not for beginners". Like other countries in Latin America - and specially in big cities - one can go from Upper East side New York to the poorest areas in New Delhi just by walking a few blocks. Brazil was the last country in the Americas to end slavery and according to some scholars,...

  • you know, it is great to see that a project you worked on becomes useful and interesting to others. thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • I think the point here is not to arrive at a "right answer", but to acknowledge that social media is understood and used differently by different people. I completely agree with you about the effects of social media being liberating, but i say this coming from my affluent educated background. At the same time, i also like to contemplate how this narrative...

  • Hi Rob, this is a challenging question. I guess you are pointing to an important point anthropologists make about social mobility and inequality, which is that they don't exist in general. When we refer to inequality, the first thing that may come to mind is an economic divided which relates to different levels of access to education. However, if you ask a...

  • hi elena, at first I also found the word 'normativity' a bit scary, but i guess the meaning, at least a broad meaning, can be simple. I'll let Nell correct me, but I understand normativity as the shared values about what is considered normal or not normal. In other words, what are the norms that groups of people embrace as being part of their identities. But...

  • it will be great to see you attempting to develop this theory further and being more specific, perhaps referring to cases that you learned about during the course.

  • Fantastic. It will be great to know if our conclusions make sense in relation to what you know about the uses of social media in Latin America. Thanks for posting!

  • yes, let's! welcome

  • and we are excited to know what you think about our conclusions! thanks for the message

  • Hi Jim, you are pointing to something quite interesting.

    Firstly, to answer your question: no one ever told me about being in debt, but they said that others were because they would spend too much trying to look goood and display achievement.

    But at the same time as they attempted to display this prosperity, they made similar efforts to avoid showing...

  • HI Anthea, could you give a bit more of detail about talking to people of other social classes online? I'm just curious to know how you met them and how you know they are of different socioeconomic background. Could you mention one or two examples?

  • HI Richard, thanks for this interesting comment.

    About cars, they are the most desirable item to locals as it represents that they have money and access to bank credit that most people dont. Actually motorcycles are the vehicle that is more within financial reach. But most still depend on public transport.

  • Hi Peter, thanks for the comment.

    The idea of online equality is not to say that they are equal, but that they are having similar phones and similar access to the internet.

    I'm not sure if we can compare twitter popularity with socioeconomic inequality. A person that is wealthier and has more years of schooling does not necessarily have a greater online...

  • thanks for this post. it is always strange - i find it strange - to have these revelations: on one side being progressive and open minded, and on the other having only or almost only contact of my own socioeconomic class.

  • HI Siddiqah, in the Brazilian field site, it was rather common for locals to "friend" people from the settlement on Facebook. But very rarely these connections evolved to become face to face relations. They fear that in public the other will not want to be seen with them, so they pass by each other without looking. At the end, they say the friendship was fake.

  • HI Caroline, could you elaborate your question a bit further. I just want to understand more clearly what you are thinking. Thanks!

  • Hi Richard, It is also import to remember that we avoid generalisations. It is not about what social media does, but about what locals are doing with it in different places. Did you look at our discoveries in our website. Each discovery comes with caveats to indicate specificities. See here:


  • In the same book, there is another chapter that could be useful. it's the one that examines the consequences of social media to inequality.

  • hi Shela, this is a very relevant question which we address in this course and also elsewhere - i'll include the links at the end. Adults of 30 and above participate on Facebook through "liking", making brief comments such as "LOL" and sharing memes.

    see this discoverty on our site:...

  • Hello Crisvalter and the other commenters. Firstly, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences here. It is a source of delight for me when participants react to the activities sharing their own cases.

    We are constantly hearing about social media in relation to loneliness. Psychologist Sherryl Turkle published a famous book (Alone Together) a few...

  • Hi Peter, "addiction" [vício] is a word locals often use to describe the fascination (especially young people) display for social media. When WhatsApp became popular, teenagers would sleep with the mobiles in their hands facing the screen so they could be woken to reply to any new messages. And yet, as I wrote on a previous comment, it is quite interesting to...

  • Hi Richard, Bahia, the state where the Brazilian field site is located, can be delightfully friendly and welcoming. Consider visiting it.

  • Hi Gianluca, I agree with you. Interestingly, my impression is that low income brazilians use the internet more that the affluent classes, perhaps because they have more needs to fulfil and also because of the dependence they have of networks of support. Some government services such as ambulance and police are not efficient so locals are constantly helping...

  • Hi Marcus. She received pornography because it is a type of content that locals circulate in their internal networks. Pornography is one of the most popular types of internet content and it is a subject social scientists study in relation to topics like "revenge porn". So the difference there is just that porn arrives from one's personal relations as part of...

  • HI Richard and thanks for the comment.

    One of the different aspects of how people use social media in this field site is that they are often communicating with neighbours, friends and relatives that live in the same settlement. They meet face to face all the time, so using the internet is not an alternative to people that cannot relate to each other in the...

  • Hi shela, similarly to Chile, Brazil experienced several years of authoritarian regimes in the last century. Our last dictatorship ended in the mid-1980s. Since then, our institutions and political system resisted the impeachment of two presidents without falling back into undemocratic governments.

  • Hi Margareth, the Brazilian site became in the last few decades a touristic destination, but those living in the locality are low income migrants that generally only access the region's hotels, restaurants and resorts as workers, mainly cleaners, cooks, watchmen, etc.

  • Hi Trevor, thanks for raising this question as this was an issue debates prior from choosing our field sites.

    Since we were interested in how people use social media, we decided it would be important to be able to see their online networks and to compare it with their offline networks. In other words, to contrast whether a Facebook "friend" necessarily...

  • amazing exchange of ideas. in my field site in Brazil, texting was virtually ignored, expect by men who used it as a channel to invisibly contact lovers and potential lovers.

  • thanks!

  • Such a great video. Congratulations, Nell!

  • wow, comments like this and others are so enriching as they reflect the conclusions the research brings in so many different contexts. thanks very much for having the patience to explain all this.

  • Hola Fernanda! could you share with us some examples? Many thanks

  • Nell, I found the reference to the documentary. Many thanks for the suggestion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_the_*$%26%25_Is_Jackson_Pollock%3F

  • hi Gizela, i guess we all do that in one way or another. For instance, progressive middle class brazilians tend to defend political agendas that favour the low income population. They will support ideas such as giving greater protection to crime offenders that are underage and payment of welfare support to very vulnerable families. However, it is often very...

  • hi mutka, do you mean that people of a higher caste will shame someone from a lower caste by mentioning their surnames is a post? is this happening on Twitter, where people do not have to necessarely be "friends" to interact? Or are these people using Facebook and interconnected? thanks for commenting.

  • hi caroline, i think "posh" is an expression that has a similar effect as "stush"; perhaps it just does not sound like a slang because it has been incorporated to everyday language. i was also surprised the other day to find out (I'm Brazilian) that to ask whether a person is of "working class background" is perceived as rude here in England. Apparently, by...

  • hi frances, perhaps because i am not english, it was not clear to me the example you gave about people of higher status ridiculing others for doing things differently from what they see as right. could you give an example about this? many thanks

  • hello annette, and thanks for the comment. i was not aware of this important issue in Australian society until recently I watched a BBC documentary about an English couple sent to prison in Australia. After they served their sentences, the couple eventually became affluent, but this was something quite problematic for them to deal with. I guess it would be...

  • hi felix, and thanks very much for sharing this example.

    i am wondering if what you describe is not actually what Jolynna presents, that is, social media being used to ridicule those that show off.

  • Juliano Spyer replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    hi kate, now i understand what you meant on a previous post.

  • wonderful example

  • this is a complete off-topic comment, but i am curious about how places like Barbados apparently became predominantly middle class whereas other countries (Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba) have arrived in the 20th century with a greater degree of social inequality. I suppose the differences in size made a difference.