Social Support Mediated by Technology. A Netnographic Study of an Online Community for Mothers
New mothers experience social isolation, and they sometimes lack experience in interacting with their babies. Social support accessed via information and communication technologies (ICTs) can help mitigate such difficulties. Social media groups, in particular, offer opportunities for interacting with other mothers, thus locating an alternative and potentially powerful source of support. In this study, we describe such an online community of mothers in Romania, aiming at capturing the mechanisms of social support in the group, and also, schematically, the changing norms of motherhood they are related to. The paper expands on a four-dimensional analysis of social support – informational, emotional, affirmational, and instrumental components (Langfort et al., 1997; Leger & LeTourneau, 2015). It then introduces the results of the netnography we conducted in the context of a three-week data gathering period in the observed community. We suggest that the physiognomy of support we observed is related to changing normative models of motherhood in this Eastern-European nation. In helping each other, the mothers we observed also expressed their difference from older generations, and their personal and professional aspirations.
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