A framework for the analysis of identity and expression of self within Second Life

Wardle, PF 2016, A framework for the analysis of identity and expression of self within Second Life , PhD thesis, University of Salford, Manchester.

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Abstract

This research uses Second Life as a research environment to examine the ways in which expression of self and identity are developed via avatars within social virtual worlds. It documents and categorises the different purposes of avatars, the relationships that operators develop with them and the various factors which influence this development. The historical and theoretical context of the research charts the development of theories of identity from the pre-modern through modern and post-modernist schools, and contemporary authors and researchers such as Tom Boellstorff and Nick Yee whose extensive work within Second Life relate directly to the research topic. The methodology chapter justifies the use of Second Life as a platform to conduct the research which includes interviews with individuals already operating avatars within Second Life, operators new to this virtual environment, and artistic practitioners who have used Second Life to examine issues of identity. In addition the research uses ethnographic and phenomenological research methods based in the author’s own artistic practice to gain additional supporting data. Developing upon the historical and theoretical context, the Lacanian concepts of Symbolic, Imaginary and Real are used to develop an original Table of Modalities typifying avatars by their differing purposes, characteristics and operator/avatar relationships, and promoting the use of a common framework of language by researchers discussing these topics. This table is used to analyse the data collected and facilitate an examination of the ways in which individuals manifest different relationships with, and behaviours via, avatars and the resultant changes in the expression of identity of both avatar and operator.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Funders: self funded
Depositing User: PF Wardle
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2016 13:45
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2017 13:26
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/40005

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