Digitale Identitäten (digital identities)

In preparation for an online panel discussion – which finally didn’t take place – I collected a few headwords concerning “digital identities”. They are covered under the sections theoretical framework, phenomena from media use in everyday-life, and a few conclusions about identity and identity construction.
This will not be further elaborated at this place. More detailled exaplanations – especially regarding the two examples – can be found in Rummler, Seipold (forthcoming) und in Pachler et al. (2010).

Zur Vorbereitung auf eine online Panel-Diskussion, die allerdings nicht stattfand, habe ich ein paar Stichpunkte zu “Digital Identities” vorbereitet. Sie umfassen Literatur für den theoretischen Rahmen, zwei Phänomene aus dem Alltag und ein paar zusammenfassende Fazits zu Identität und Identitätskonstruktion.
An dieser Stelle bleibt das so und zunächst ohne weitere Ausarbeitung stehen. Detailliertere Ausführungen sind in den jeweiligen Referenzen zu finden, bezogen auf die beiden aufgeführten Phänomene insbesondere in Rummler, Seipold (forthcoming) und in Pachler et al. (2010).


Anthony Giddens (Giddens 1991)

  • Identity is constructed by the individual
  • Identity “is a person’s own reflexive understanding of their biography” (Gauntlett 2011b)
  • Continuity of identity is self-constructed (Gauntlett 2011b). In fact, identity is discontinuous and hypertexually linked.
  • Identity is wrapped in narrations.
  • Example of Cyrill can give evidence to: These narrations appear in the digital on-line world on different platforms and are pointing to different aspects of one’s identity.

Klaus Hurrelmann (2001)

  • Identity is constructed in the process of socialisation, i.e. “the productive procession of the inner and outer reality” (see Hurrelmann 2001)

John Potter (2011)

  • “concept of “curating the self” as an essential skill and disposition in lived culture” (Potter 2011, p. 53)
  • “multiple versions of the self are distributed across YouTube, Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and more” (Potter 2011, p. 54)

Ulrich Beck (Beck 1986)

  • Risk society
  • Identity construction is taking decisions and choices and dealing with risks

Gerhard Schulze (Schulze 2000)

  • Erlebnisgesellschaft (event/fun oriented society)
  • The individual is eagerly keen to have fun, the construction of live is centred around this aim, and the subject/the individual in the centre of his or her experiences

Stuart Hall (Hall 1980)

  • decoding-encoding
  • “patterns of ‘preferred readings'” (Hall 1980, p. 134)

Phenomenon (an example) 1:
Cyrill (see Pachler, Bachmair, Cook 2010)

  • Example: A 17 years old with partly migration background has account on different online platforms. He produces videos and shows them on youtube, he has  my space account and presents some artwork there, he is active on fora and gives advise concerning video processing software and digital video cameras and so on.
  • Results: By presenting his outputs and showing/talking about his skills, he represents himself as angry against the society, as vulnerable, as victim, as creative, as expert, as pupil, as teacher, as reflecting, as rich, as poor.
  • Results: He gives his appearance different directions. He and his identity appears to be made of contradictions and inconsistent.
  • Danger: He addresses different target groups on different platforms. The danger is that his audience judges him according to only one of the snippets of his digital identity. (On the other hand: This might be intended by the young man).
  • Meta: Instead of talking about online identity one should rather consider to talk about different facettes of the identity that find space and framing at different places – in the net and outside the net.
  • Meta: There is no “either – or” but only an “as well as”

Phenomenon (an example) 2:
Ringtones on mobile phones (Rummler, Seipold forthcoming)

  • Example: Music according to ones taste of music, soudns such as farts or belches, national anthems etc.
  • Results: By playing these sounds in the public give a glance at the mobile phone owner’s taste, or social or peer association and so on.
  • Danger: Fast labelling (according to ones preferred reading patterns) of people who show their music and/or social preferences and to impute the aim to provoce to them.
  • Meta: The use of specific ringtones is participation: participation in discourses
  • about what is right or wrong in public contexts (ethics)
  • about me belonging to a distinctive group of people instead of to belonging to the masses
  • about showing a part of my identity, and being proud of it


  • Identity is constructed in the process of socialisation
  • Identity is constructed self-responsible
  • Identity is constructed through appropriation
  • Identity is also a result of choices and decisions
  • Identity is constructed non-linear
  • Indentity and identity construction is always meaningful
  • Identity construction is never finished
  • Identity is distinctive
  • Identity can provoke
  • Identity is occasion to establish and to join discourses
  • Identity is the freedom to see things differently
  • Identity is made available to others as either linear or non-linear story/multimedia and multi modal constructs (media production)
  • Facettes of identities can be linked to discourses/ provoke discourses
  • People tend to be judged according to facettes of their identity


Beck, Ulrich (1986): Risikogesellschaft: Auf dem Weg in eine andere Moderne (Erstausgabe). Edition Suhrkamp: 1365 (Neue Folge Band 365). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch-Verl.

Gauntlett, David (2011a): Anthony Giddens. A brief introduction to Giddens’ general approach, plus more detail on his ideas about self, gender and identity in modern societies. Online:

Gauntlett, David (2011b): Anthony Giddens: The reflexive project of the self. Retrieved from:

Giddens, Anthony (1991): Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge: Polity Press. Retrieved from:

Hall, Stuart (1980): Encoding/decoding. In: Hall, Stuart u.a. (Hrsg.): Culture, media, language; Working papers in cultural studies, 1972-1979.

Hurrelmann, Klaus (2001): Einführung in die Sozialisationstheorie (7., neu ausgestattete Ausgabe). Weinheim und Basel: Beltz.

Pachler, Norbert, Bachmair, Ben, Cook, John (2010): Mobile learning: structures, agency, practices. New York: Springer. Retrieved from:

Potter, John (2011): Creation and curatorship in new media. In: Rummler, Klaus; Seipold, Judith; Lübcke, Eileen; Pachler, Norbert; Attwell, Graham (Hrsg.) (2011): Mobile learning: Crossing boundaries in convergent environments. 21-22 March 2011, Bremen. Book of abstracts, p. 53-56. Retrieved from:

Rummler, Klaus, Seipold, Judith (forthcoming): “Nicht ohne mein Handy!” Alltagsnutzung, Risiken und Bildungschancen eines allgegenwärtigen Geräts. Schüler. Wissen für Lehrer (Heft 2011: Virtuelle Welten).

Schulze, Gerhard (2000): Die Erlebnisgesellschaft. Kultursoziologie der Gegenwart. 8. Auflage, Studienausgabe, Frankfurt a.M.: Campus Verlag.

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