Eighth Brown Bag – November 7, 2014


Daphna Yeshua-Katz, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Telecommunications, The Media School

Navigating Stigma in Online Communities

Virtual relationships among people have enjoyed scholarly interest across multiple disciplines while emerging media systems are increasingly designed to enhance anonymous connectedness. This environment affords a safe space for stigmatized groups to convene. Yet, there is limited information about how the online environment is used by the stigmatized. Moreover, the theoretical approaches used so far treat the online environment as a place for marginalized communities to escape from offline stigma. It is time to consider how these support groups shape collective group norms and perform rituals of group membership.

Drawing from stigma and online social support literature, this presentation will address the role of stigma in shaping media use of three groups: Pro-ana bloggers who are members of an online community for people with eating disorders, Israeli childless women who go through fertility treatments and Israeli women who are voluntarily childless. Quantitative content analysis and qualitative in-depth interviews are used to address research questions.


Daphna is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Telecommunications (newly merged Media School) at Indiana University. Her research interest focuses on understanding the interconnections of technology, society and norms–particularly with respect to online community making among stigmatized groups. Daphna attended the University of Amsterdam (UvA) for BA and MA degrees in Communication Science. She was a lecturer at the Open University of Israel, a journalist in Israel and in the Netherlands, and a public relations manager in the Israeli NGO The Jaffa Institute.

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