Digital Media, Friendship and Cultures of Care  book cover
1st Edition

Digital Media, Friendship and Cultures of Care

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 30, 2020
ISBN 9780367183462
November 29, 2020 Forthcoming by Routledge
224 Pages

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USD $124.00

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Book Description

This book explores how digital media can extend care practices among friends and peers, researching young people’s negotiations of sexual health, mental health, gender/sexuality and dating apps, and highlighting the need for a multi-focal approach that centres young people’s expertise.

Taking an ‘everyday practice’ approach to digital and social media, Digital Media, Friendship and Cultures of Care emphasises that digital media are not novel but integrated into daily life. The book introduces the concept of ‘digital cultures of care’ as a new framework through which to consider digital practices of friendship and peer support, and how these play out across a range of platforms and networks. Challenging common public and academic concerns about peer and friendship influences on young people, these terms are unpacked and reconsidered through attention to digital media, drawing on qualitative research findings to argue that digital and social media have created important new opportunities for emotional support, particularly for young people and LGBTQ+ populations, often excluded from formal healthcare and social support.

This book and its comprehensive focus on friendship will be of interest to a range of readers, including academics, students, health promoters, educators, policymakers and advocacy groups for either young people, LGBTQ+ communities, or digital citizenship. Academics most interested in this book will be working in digital media studies, health sociology, critical public health, health communication, sexualities, cultural studies, sex education, and gender studies.

Table of Contents


Young people are not going online

Young people in this book

A public discourse of care

Digital intimacy as everyday practice

Beyond risk approaches

Cultures of care

The research

The chapters

CHAPTER 1: More than just friends

Knowing friendship

Friendship and popular culture

Friendship and social media

Changing modes of friendship

Friendship as affective practice

CHAPTER 2: What do we know about peers?

Peer influence

Peers and friends: sexual health disruptors

Peer education

Redefining peers

Peer support

Is digital support friendship?

Tumblr care

Digital peer support cultures

CHAPTER 3: Young people’s social media expertise

Social media use

Thinking beyond ‘health information seeking’

Sexual health promotion and social media

Young people’s social media use

A crisis of authority and the changing nature of expertise

Partnering with experts

CHAPTER 4: Friendship and sexual intimacy

Intimacy, bodies, and feelings

Friendship and sex

Safe intimacies

The distance of sexual health promotion

Sex with friends

Friendship as health promoting

Attending to intimacy

CHAPTER 5: LGBTQ+ peer support for mental health

Digital information and support

Digital care structures

Community reports: friends and peers

Digital mental health support

Mental health on Tumblr

Beyond ‘help-seeking’

CHAPTER 6: Friends with dating apps

Approaching dating/hook-up apps as friend spaces

Making friends on dating/hook-up apps

The safety of mutual friends

Friendship support for app use

Friends with apps


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Paul Byron is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney, based in the School of Communication. As a digital and social media researchers, his current research focuses on LGBTIQ+ young people’s digital peer support, and how this can inform Australian mental health policy.