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Performing the Digital Self: Understanding Location-Based Social Networking, Territory, Space, and Identity in the City

Papangelis, Konstantinos; Chamberlain, Alan; Khan, Vassilis-Javed; Lykourentzou, Ioanna; Saker, Michael; Liang, Hai-Ning; Sadien, Irwyn; Cao, Ting


Konstantinos Papangelis

Vassilis-Javed Khan

Ioanna Lykourentzou

Michael Saker

Hai-Ning Liang

Irwyn Sadien

Ting Cao


Expressions of territoriality have been positioned as one of the main reasons users alter their behaviors and perceptions of spatiality and sociality while engaging with location-based social networks (LBSN). Despite the potential for this interplay to further our understanding of LBSN usage in the context of identity, very little work has actually been done toward this. Addressing this gap in the literature is one of the chief aims of the article. Drawing on an original 6-week study with 42 participants utilizing a bespoke LBSN entitled “GeoMoments,” our research explores the following: (1) the way that territoriality is linked to self-identity; and (2) how this interplay affects the interactions between users as well as the environments they inhabit. Our findings suggest that participants affirmed their self-identity by selectively posting and claiming ownership of their neighborhood through the LBSN. Here, the locative decisions are made related to risk, hierarchies, and the users’ relationship to the area. This practice then led participants to discover and interact with the digital information overlaying their physical environments in a playful manner. These interactions demonstrate the perceived power structures that are facilitated by identity claims over a virtual area. In the main, our results reaffirm that territoriality is a central concept in understanding LBSN use, while also drawing attention to the temporality involved in user-to-user and user-to-place interactions pertaining to physical place mediated by LBSN.


Papangelis, K., Chamberlain, A., Khan, V., Lykourentzou, I., Saker, M., Liang, H., …Cao, T. (2020). Performing the Digital Self: Understanding Location-Based Social Networking, Territory, Space, and Identity in the City. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 27(1), 1-26.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2019
Online Publication Date Jan 1, 2020
Publication Date Jan 1, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 11, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 10, 2020
Journal ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Print ISSN 1073-0516
Electronic ISSN 1557-7325
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 1
Article Number 1
Pages 1-26
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information © ACM, 2020. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), Vol. 27, Issue 1


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