by Matt Spaley
A doctoral candidate at the School of Information at UC Berkeley, danah boyd (she spells her name without capitalization), has written a blog essay on class divisions between Facebook and MySpace. The essay asserts that “hegemonic teens” (middle/upper class with some education) are all on or are flocking to Facebook whereas “subaltern teens” (poor, less educated, minorities, and those that identify with various teen subcultures) are on MySpace. Though she is careful to point out that her essay is not meant to be an academic paper, it quickly becomes clear that boyd’s essay suffers from some sizable problems.
The choice of “hegemonic” and “subaltern” as terms are an obvious issue which boyd anticipates:
“Yes, I know that these words have academic and political valence. I couldn’t find a good set of terms so feel free to suggest alternate labels.”
At best this caveat is a cop-out. By borrowing terminology from post-colonial theory boyd loads the essay with unnecessary baggage. Describing a group as “hegemonic” is obviously pejorative and boyd proves it through her descriptions: Continue reading