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Studying eating disorders in the social web. A network analysis approach

Studying eating disorders in the social web. A network analysis approach

Tubaro, Paola (2010) Studying eating disorders in the social web. A network analysis approach. In: Nuffield / Oxford Internet Institute Social Networks Seminar, 15 November 2010, Nuffield College, Oxford. (Unpublished)

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The recent upsurge of online websites, blogs and forums advocating anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa (“pro-ana” and “pro-mia”) challenges health practitioners and policy makers. While glorifying eating disorders as a lifestyle and even a choice, the authors of these websites often provide fellow sufferers with distinctive forms of emotional and practical support, and may thus have appeal to many.

I will present an ongoing project addressing the role of online and offline social networks in the spread and maintenance of eating disorders, through a comparative study of ana-mia subjects in the UK and France. The project, undertaken in collaboration with an inter-disciplinary team of researchers, investigates the impact on health and nutrition of computer-mediated communication networks relative to face-to-face social interactions.

I will illustrate our empirical strategy, starting with a brief presentation of the main results of a preliminary exploration of contents and style and the Web cartography of the ana-mia sphere. I will then discuss our fieldwork methodology. An online survey (now being tested) invites users of ana-mia websites to provide information on their online and offline personal networks together with their health-related advice network. Information is elicited through a computer-based participant-aided sociogram drawing tool, through which respondents represent their ties to others and obtain an optimised visualisation at the end. The well-acknowledged appeal of network visualisations is meant to improve survey experience and ultimately to enhance data quality.

Overall, the presentation will provide an opportunity to discuss the rising role of the social sciences in understanding health behaviours, nutrition and body image especially with the advent of widespread computer-mediated social interactions.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Speech)
Uncontrolled Keywords: online social networks, personal networks, network data collection, health behaviours, eating behaviours, social influence
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Faculty of Business > Networks and Urban Systems Centre (NUSC) > Centre for Business Network Analysis (CBNA)
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Last Modified: 08 Oct 2019 09:15

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