Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Jackie Orr


lege Students, Culture, Interpersonal Relationships, Social Media, Technology

Subject Categories



This dissertation examines the way in which techno-mediated communication technologies, such as social media, text messaging, and virtual communities are used to negotiate, establish and maintain interpersonal relationships among college students. Using in-depth interview and online participant observation, I explore the relationship between technological communication and social behavior, interpersonal relationships and social networks. I focus on three broad questions: how do developments and structures of technological communication allow for the emergence of new social expectations and behaviors in the realm of connectivity and social interaction? How do individuals experience social pressures for connectivity and how do such pressures shape relationships? How is technology implicated in the way in which participants experience intimacy, relationships and individual identity? My findings suggest that there is a strong connection between the corporatizing discourse of rational labor practice that defines speed and efficiency as inherently valuable and the increased use of technology to provide a faster and more efficient form of interpersonal communication among participants. One unexpected consequence of this development has been the normalized hyper-connection between the students I studied. The incorporation of technological devices, such as smartphones, in interpersonal relationships combined with the high social value of speed is connected with the increased expectations about frequency of contact within friendships and sexual relationships. This desire for immediate contact, as well as increasing availability of information about potential relationship partners, contributes to a transformation of the experience of intimacy among participants.


Open Access

Included in

Sociology Commons