Emojis : Carriers of Culture and Symbols of Identity

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Emojis : Carriers of Culture and Symbols of Identity

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Publication 2-year master student thesis
Title Emojis : Carriers of Culture and Symbols of Identity
Author Adams, Jonna
Date 2017
English abstract
The study explored how the use of Emojis – beyond being used just as playful joke markers and tone-setters – shape culture and identity within a community of practice. Through the means of two qualitative Focus Group interviews involving ten members from a local soccer team, the purpose was to examine in-depth participants’ motivations for using Emojis, and their feelings about the Emojis that they receive both within and outside their community. Results showed that Emojis – irrespective of shape – are understood as signs representing an individual’s inner positive energy and good will; when such signs are used regularly within a community, this contributes to that the community culture emerge as positive and friendly. Expanding on these findings, results also illustrated that Emojis are perceived as symbols of likeness towards the group and that they contribute to the shaping of open and permissive culture in which emotions are allowed to flow freely – an effect which seem to be transferred to their offline environment too. Drawing from theories of Cultural Psychology and Cultural Semiotics, the thesis presents an innovative view of Emojis as both products as well as producers of culture; products because they are graphic representations of emotions which become meaningful cultural signs when posted online, and producers because they affect members’ perception of reality within the community of practice. The thesis also conclude that the use of Emojis is closely linked to personality and identity; as identities are continuously shaped through the symbolic association of Emojis, this affect not only how members of a community perceive the individuals using them, but also how we perceive the community in which these identities circulate and operate. This finding paved the way for interesting future studies on personal identity building through Emoji use.
Publisher Malmö högskola/Kultur och samhälle
Pages 73
Language eng (iso)
Subject Emoji
Visual Communication
Community of Practice
Cultural Semiotics
Digital communication
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/23736 Permalink to this page
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