Exploring the affordances of popular private Facebook groups for women-only in Egypt

  • Shaden Kamel University of Bayreuth
Keywords: Affordances, Facebook groups, social media, women-only, safe spaces, online communities

Abstract

In Egypt, the creation and usage of private Facebook groups for women-only is vastly popular. Despite scholarship on women’s social media use, research examining the emergence of online women communities, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa region, is scarce. This article draws upon a case study of five popular Facebook groups for women-only to explore how and for what reasons their Facebook group creators and members are using these Facebook groups. It uses the conceptual framework of Affordances to account for the mutual influence of the Facebook groups’ structure, their users’ perceptions, and social context. Results show that Facebook group creators and members perceive Facebook groups as safe spaces to express their personal and social distresses due to their privacy and exclusivity to women. These collective experiences have led to the manifestation of these Facebook groups as self-care spaces where FB group creators provide their members with information and entertainment to improve their health and well-being. In sum, this article contributes to scholarship on digital media engagement by empirically illustrating how social media users draw on social, cultural, and structural resources to make sense of their usage of particular social media platforms.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Al-Ali, N. (2000). Secularism, gender, and the state in the Middle East: The Egyptian women’s movement. Cambridge university press.
Archer, C., & Kao, K. T. (2018). Mother, baby and Facebook makes three: does social media provide social support for new mothers? Media International Australia, 168(1), 122–139. https://doi.org/10.1177/1329878X18783016
Baym, N. (2010). Personal connections in the digital age. Polity.
Boczkowski, P., & Siles, I. (2014). Steps toward cosmopolitanism in the study of media technologies: Integrating scholarship on production, consumption, materiality and content. In T. Gillespie, P. Boczkowski, & K. Foot (Eds.), Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality, and society (pp. 53–75). The MIT Press.
Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.
Burgess, J. (2015). From ‘Broadcast yourself’ to ‘Follow your interests’: Making over social media. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 18(3), 281–285. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367877913513684
Carstensen, T. (2014). Gender and social media: Sexism, empowerment, or the irrelevance of gender? In C. Carter, L. Steiner, & L. Mclaughlin (Eds.), The Routledge companion to media & gender (1st ed., pp. 482–492). Routledge.
Clark-Parsons, R. (2018). Building a digital Girl Army: The cultivation of feminist safe spaces online. New Media and Society, 20(6), 2125–2144. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444817731919
Costa, E. (2018). Affordances-in-practice: An ethnographic critique of social media logic and context collapse. New Media and Society, 20(10), 3641–3656. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818756290
Couldry, N. (2008). Mediatization or mediation? Alternative understandings of the emergent space of digital storytelling. New Media and Society, 10(3), 373–391. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444808089414
Czarnek-Wnuk, P. (2017). Hybrid forms of entertainment in the media. Acta Universitatis Lodziensis. Folia Litteraria Polonica, 43(5). https://doi.org/10.18778/1505-9057.43.05
Dean, J. (2019). Critique or Collectivity? Communicative Capitalism and the Subject of Politics. In D. Chandler & C. Fuchs (Eds.), Digital objects, digital subjects: Interdisciplinary perspective on capitalism, labour and poltiics in the age of big data (pp. 171–182). University of Westminster Press.
Downey, G. (2014). Making media work: Time, space, identity, and labor in the analysis of information and communication infrastructures. In T. Gillespie, P. Boczkowski, & K. Foot (Eds.), Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality, and society (pp. 141–165). The MIT press.
Duffy, B. E. (2016). The romance of work: Gender and aspirational labour in the digital culture industries. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 19(4), 441–457. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367877915572186
Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989). Building theories from case study research. Source: The Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 532–550.
Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2011). Connection strategies: Social capital implications of Facebook-enabled communication practices. New Media and Society, 13(6), 873–892. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444810385389
Elsayed, H. (2016). A divine cosmopolitanism? Religion, media and imagination in a socially divided Cairo. Media, Culture and Society, 38(1), 48–63. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443715615413
Evans, S. K., Pearce, K. E., Vitak, J., & Treem, J. W. (2017). Explicating affordances: A conceptual framework for understanding affordances in communication research. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 22(1), 35–52. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12180
Floersch, J., Longhofer, J. L., Kranke, D., & Townsend, L. (2010). Integrating thematic, grounded theory and narrative analysis: A case study of adolescent psychotropic treatment. Qualitative Social Work, 9(3), 407–425. https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325010362330
Gill, R. (2007). Postfeminist media culture: Elements of a sensibility. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 10(2), 147–166. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549407075898
Goggins, S., & Petakovic, E. (2014). Connecting theory to social technology platforms: A framework for measuring influence in context. American Behavioral Scientist, 58(10), 1376–1392. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764214527093
Hampton, K. N. (2017). Studying the digital: Directions and challenges for digital methods. Annual Review of Sociology, 167–188. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-060116
Hopkins, J. (2020). The concept of affordances in digital media. In Handbuch Soziale Praktiken und Digitale Alltagswelten (pp. 47–54). Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-08357-1_67
Hurley, Z. (2019). Imagined affordances of Instagram and the fantastical authenticity of female Gulf-Arab social media influencers. Social Media and Society, 5(1), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305118819241
Hurley, Z. (2020, June 2). Showing their faces online is difficult for some Arab women: Educators must respond. Al-Fanar Media. al-fanarmedia.org/2020/06/showing-their-faces-online-is-difficult-for-some-arab-women-educators-must-respond/?Ibsf=true&id=42206
Hutchby, I. (2003). Affordances and the analysis of technologically mediated interaction: A response to Brian Rappert. Sociology, 37(3), 581–589.
Hven, S. (2019). The affective niches of media. NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies, 8(1), 105–123. https://doi.org/10.25969/mediarep/4190
Jackson, S. (2014). Rethinking repair. In T. Gillespie, P. Boczkowski, & K. Foot (Eds.), Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality, and society (pp. 221–239). The MIT press.
Kalpokaite, N., & Radivojevic, I. (2019). Demystifying qualitative data analysis for novice qualitative researchers. Qualitative Report, 24(13), 44–57. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2019.4120
Khairat, F. (2019, March 8). Is feminism compatible with Egyptian culture? Egyptian Streets. https://egyptianstreets.com/2019/03/08/is-feminism-compatible-with-egyptian-culture/
Kozinets, R. (2002). The Field behind the Screen. Journal of Marketing Research, 61–72.
Langley, A. (1999). Strategies for theorizing from process data. Academy of Management Review, 24(4), 691–710.
Lievrouw, L. (2014). Materiality and media in communication and technology studies: An unfinished project. In T. Gillespie, P. Boczkowski, & K. Foot (Eds.), Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality and society (pp. 21–51). The MIT press.
Lijadi, A. A., & van Schalkwyk, G. J. (2015). Online Facebook focus group research of hard-to-reach participants. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 14(5), 160940691562138. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406915621383
Livingstone, S. (2014). Identifying the interests of digital users as audiences, consumers, workers, and publics. In T. Gillespie, P. Boczkowski, & K. Foot (Eds.), Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality and society (pp. 241–250). The MIT press.
Madhavan, S., Clark, S., & Hara, Y. (2018). Gendered emotional support and women’s well-being in a low-income urban African setting. Gender and Society, 32(6), 837–859. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243218786670
Mahmood, S. (2001). Feminist Theory, Embodiment, and the Docile Agent: Some Reflections on the Egyptian Islamic Revival. Cultural Anthropology, 16(2), 202–236.
Marwick, A. E., & Boyd, D. (2011). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media and Society, 13(1), 114–133. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444810365313
Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative researching (2nd ed.). Sage Publications.
Nekmat, E., & Lee, K. (2018). Prosocial vs. trolling community on Facebook: A comparative study of individual group communicative behaviors. International Journal of Communication, 12, 1–22. http://ijoc.org.
Newsom, V. A., & Lengel, L. (2012). Arab women, social media, and the Arab spring: Applying the framework of digital reflexivity to analyze gender and online activism. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 13(5), 31–45. http://vc.bridgew.edu/jiwshttp://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol13/iss5/5
Papacharissi, Z. (2016). Affective publics and structures of storytelling: sentiment, events and mediality. Information Communication and Society, 19(3), 307–324. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2015.1109697
Pattwell, A. (2019). The Cannibals: Consuming celebrity through digital mourning. In C. Roberts & M. Lascity (Eds.), Consumer identities: Agency, media, and digital culture (pp. 111–134). Intellect.
Pribram, E. D. (2019). Strategic pleasure: Gendered anger as collective emotion in WANTED. NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies, 8(1), 171–189. https://doi.org/10.25969/mediarep/4172
Pruchniewska, U. (2019). “A group that’s just women for women”: Feminist affordances of private Facebook groups for professionals. New Media and Society, 21(6), 1362–1379. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818822490
Sayigh, R. (1981). Roles and functions of Arab women: A reappraisal. Arab Studies Quarterly, 3(3), 258–274. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41857569
Schwartz, B., & Neff, G. (2019). The gendered affordances of Craigslist “new-in-town girls wanted” ads. New Media and Society, 21(11–12), 2404–2421. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444819849897
Skalli, L. H. (2006). Communicating Gender in the Public Sphere: Women and Information Technologies in the MENA. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 2(2), 35–59. https://doi.org/10.2979/mew.2006.2.2.35
Skalli, L. H. (2014). Young women and social media against sexual harassment in North Africa. Journal of North African Studies, 19(2), 244–258. https://doi.org/10.1080/13629387.2013.858034
Soronen, A., & Koivunen, A. (2022). Platformed intimacies: Professional belonging on social media. European Journal of Cultural Studies. https://doi.org/10.1177/13675494221079854
Sreberny, A. (2000). Television, gender, and democratization in the Middle East. In J. Curran & M. Park (Eds.), De-westernizing media studies. Routledge.
Steel, G. (2017). Navigating (im)mobility: Female entrepreneurship and social media in Khartoum. In Africa (Vol. 87, Issue 2, pp. 233–252). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972016000930
Tabishat, M. (2015). Al-Daght: Pressures of modern life in Cairo. In C. Nelson & S. Rouse (Eds.), Situating Globalization (pp. 203–230). Transcript verlag.
Urquhart, C., & Vaast, E. (2012). Building social media theory from case studies: A new frontier for IS research.
Van Dijck, J., & Poell, T. (2013). Understanding social media logic. Media and Communication, 1(1), 2–14. https://doi.org/10.12924/mac2013.01010002
Wetschanow, K. (1999). “The personal is political”- Are daytime talk shows feminist? A Decade of Transformation, IWM Junior Visiting Fellows Conferences, VIII(10), 1–19.
Wiens, B., & Macdonald, S. (2021). Living whose best life? An intersectional feminist interrogation of postfeminist #solidarity in #selfcare. NECSUS_European Journal of Media Studies, #Solidarity(1), 219–242. https://doi.org/10.25969/mediarep/16254
Published
2022-07-29
Section
Dossier no.12 - Emotion and Cognition in Engagement