Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Robert Zussman

Second Advisor

Millicent Thayer

Third Advisor

Sanjiv Gupta

Fourth Advisor

Leda Cooks

Subject Categories



The public/private distinction is one of the most influential concepts of the modern era, both in terms of social theory and everyday life. For many, public and private have been treated as completely separate. The assumption that public and private are a dichotomous pair has influenced numerous aspects of social life, ranging from the gendered division of labor to the development of the suburb. However, the division between the public and private realms has proven to be permeable; the public and private realms have bled over into one another, and can no longer be treated as dichotomous. Information and communication technologies have been pivotal in these shifting conceptions of publicity and privacy. Based on a study of personal bloggers — individuals who write about their everyday lives on the Internet — this study finds that public and private are best understood in terms of the relationship among information, audience, and control over access to information. Bloggers conceptualize publicity and privacy relative to the information they make available online, and actively work to balance the benefits of writing online with the risks of granting readers access to that content. They manage this tension through a variety of techniques ranging from use of software controls (commonly used on some blogging platforms) to maintaining multiple blog documents. Through this process, bloggers continuously create and destroy both content and audiences. The end result is a vision of public and private that consists of “public” as synonymous with “widely accessible” and “private” as synonymous with “limited access”.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Included in

Sociology Commons