Project summary

This interdisciplinary project problematises undergraduate student participation in image-rich and real-time digital spaces (YouTube/Instagram/TikTok). While it is widely acknowledged that students as young people inhabit digital spaces, there is a lack of understanding of how social media interacts with their identity development throughout their ‘student lifecycle’, including transitions to/from studenthood and identity-based belonging. Such spatiotemporal focus on identities is essential in a context where digital spaces constantly evolve with new ways to express oneself. The student population worldwide has also become younger, resulting in overlapping pressures between studenthood and youth transitions. Furthermore, the WHO has announced the mental health crisis among students, making this project even more timely. To address the issue, the project will bring together Durham academics from Education, Business, Sociology, Anthropology, Computer Science, Philosophy, and Psychology, as well as a variety of international interdisciplinary experts (Fellows and advisory group). The novel methodological approach integrates computer-assisted video/image analysis with anthropological analysis of visuals/images and sociological approaches to CDA. The project will result in an innovative theoretical-methodological framework that will inform large-scale research on students/youth in digital spaces (grant application, publications, symposium) and immediate recommendations for mediating risks on wellbeing in digital spaces (project website, engagement with partners).

Term: Epiphany

Principal Investigator: Dr Rille Raaper (Education) Principal Investigator: Dr Mariann Hardey (Marketing and Management)