Social networking can be viewed in two senses: in the sense of interacting socially and undergoing socialization at sites throughout the Internet, or in interacting socially , and undergoing socialization in the real world. Many sociological constructs consider that human societies are systems which contain subsystems within subsystems and so on. That approach offers a good tool for analyzing socialization through social networking.
Social networking in the real world society involves an individual who moves from subsystem to subsystem in ways that are integrated into the individual’s whole socialized structure. An individual who attends church, which is a subsystem of society,has been through the church socialization processes. The individual may get involved in the subsystems that exist within the church. When the individual becomes involved in a special ministry, such as the prison ministry, there is a new, complex change in the individual role within the church system and there is the additional socialization processes that are imposed on those who interact with the prison subsystem of the overall society . The network works two ways as the prison ministry’s relationship to the church system is incorporated into the individual’s entire network of systems which involve multiple and differing socialization processes.
As a result, one individual in the real world can integrate socialization from multiple subsystems of society into his or her life, creating a network of various systems, each with it’s own complex roles, values, and norms which constitute real world social networking. As the individual is socialized into each subsystem, some of the aspects of each subsystems are passed on to others through the individual, who may compare norms, values and ideals of the prison environment to coworkers, family or friends. As a result, the individual is socialized through multiple processes from multiple systems, and will carry some of those socialization process from one subsystem to another.
Social networking can also occur in the real world in formal and informal programs that bring together small business owners, students from different schools, or professionals who meet periodically at their conventions and seminars. The socialization processes, values, and norms that are discussed and learned at these events are carried back to the school, office, or business and may be incorporated there.
Social networking on line can occur in the unlikeliest places. When there are websites for magazines, television networks, celebrities, and television shows that have forums, social groups form based on common interests form. Individuals who attend these forums may have multiple memberships in other forums that appeal to a variety of interests, and may invite others to join them in various places. Each forum may offer rules, formats, and social protocols that are different for each forum, requiring the individual to adapt behavior and attitude to each situation. The individual is also allowed to communicate suggestions and complaints, which may lead to changes or improvements in the protocols, rules and formats that constitute a significant part of the sites socialization process.
The official flagships of social networking include the major social networking sites, such as EONS, Myspace and FaceBook. These sites are the scenes of many subsystems that create social interaction and have socialization processes. These include a myriad of individual forums and groups which operate under their own values, shared interests, rules, standards and protocols. Many participants confine access and activity to friends and family in order to keep them posted on what is new, to share photos, and to receive updates on the others.
The overall site has socializing processes, including rules and regulations, standards of conduct, ways of navigating the site and accessing it’s features, and determining which features are appealing or not. Within the complex network of organized groups, there are individual socializing factors, including the rules, values, norms and preferences of the groups. There are interpersonal networks of individuals which may be based on established real world relationships, such as family or school affiliation, and there are interpersonal networks of individuals who belong to a group of forums and groups at the social networking site.