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Abstract

This paper explored the concept of the extended self in the context of virtual realities and spaces, and through the prism of gender. It demonstrated the manner in which selves are constructed and presented on social media platforms. Through this enquiry, the study showed that both genders engage in self‐construction in diverse ways, with different impacts in terms of the tools used for self‐presentation. The study can be useful in terms of assessing young adults' behaviors in the virtual arena and analyzing the various ways of extending self.
ACADEMIC PAPER
Young adults and their digitally extended selves: Assessing
the impact of gender
Rajendra V. Nargundkar
1
| Lubna Nafees
2
| Shweta Kushal
3
1
Marketing, Indian Institute of Management
Indore, Indore, India
2
Marketing, Appalachian State University,
Boone, North Carolina
3
Communication, Indian Institute of
Management Indore, Indore, India
Correspondence
Shweta Kushal, Indian Institute of
Management Indore, India, Prabandh Shikhar,
Rau-Pithampur Road, Indore 453556, Madhya
Pradesh, India.
Email: shweta@iimidr.ac.in
This paper explored the concept of the extended self in the context of virtual realities
and spaces, and through the prism of gender. It demonstrated the manner in which
selves are constructed and presented on social media platforms. Through this
enquiry, the study showed that both genders engage in self-construction in diverse
ways, with different impacts in terms of the tools used for self-presentation. The
study can be useful in terms of assessing young adults' behaviors in the virtual arena
and analyzing the various ways of extending self.
1|INTRODUCTION
1.1 |The construction of self
Human beings engage in self-construction through various means such
as language, dress, and material possessions. Immanuel Kant delineates
self-consciousness into two parts: consciousness of oneself (empirical
self-consciousness) and the accompanying psychological states in the
inner sense (transcendental apperception), and their expression via per-
formed acts of apperception (Kant, 1798). This awareness pushes indi-
viduals to project selves in various aspects of life as self-constructions
are means to portray beliefs about self, including attributes and who
and what the self is(Baumeister, 1999) because consciousness of self
emerges from how one appears to self, as we know even ourselves
only as appearance(Kant, 1781, p. 278). Psychologist Carl Rogers
(1959) proposed three paradigms for self-conceptualization
1. Self-image: The view constructed for self.
2. Self-worth/self-esteem: The value placed on self.
3. Ideal self: The ideal state to be achieved.
These are inextricably linked as the degree of uniformity between
the first and last is directly proportional to the congruence that indi-
viduals experience. Self-description is done through four types of
statements: physical descriptions, social roles, statements of personal-
ity, and abstract existential statements (Kuhn, 1960).
Therefore, it can be argued that self-conceptualization is twofold.
Lewis (1990) distinguished between self through universal categories
such as gender, age, skill, and social roles (Categorical) and through
distinction (Existential), a sense of being separate and distinct from
others and the awareness of the constancy of the self(Bee, 1992).
Self-conceptualization has many factors shaping it, with four major
influencers: response received from others, especially individuals who
hold some significance; comparisons with others; social roles; and the
manner and degree of relating to others (Argyle, 2009). Moreover,
relation to objects and possessions that contribute to a sense of being
extends that being into these possessions, forming the Extended Self.
1.2 |Extended self
Russell Belk (1988) observed that the self is constituted of three states
of existencehaving, doing, and being. The extended self is hierarchical
and is made of four layersindividual, family, community, and group.
James (1890) argues, We feel and act about certain things that are ours
very much as we feel and act about ourselves(p. 291). Therefore, the
individual becomes an ensemble of various objects and possessions,
which represent the diversity and incongruity of the total self (Belk,
1984; Solomon & Assael, 1988). However, the loss of any object/posses-
sion that makes up this ensemble results in immense grief and mourning,
akin to bemoaning the passing of a loved one (Rosenblatt, Walsh, & Jack-
son, 1976). This grief stems from the bereavement of the self invested in
these objects. In the digital world, the idea of identity constantly evolves
and is progressively impacted by the influence of the virtual. Selves are
constructed in more dynamic manners through expression in social and
public spaces, such that even this bereavement becomes nuanced.
Received: 10 September 2019 Accepted: 21 November 2019
DOI: 10.1002/pa.2064
J Public Affairs. 2020;e2064. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/pa © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd 1of9
https://doi.org/10.1002/pa.2064
1.3 |Extended self in the digital world
In the digital age, Sheth and Solomon (2014) expand upon the extended
self by suggesting that people now use technology to redefine them-
selves using digital tools instead of possessions. They have established
that age-old boundaries between individuals' offline and online lives are
blurring with increasing rapidity, generating the digital extended self.
Park and Baek (2018) have argued that psychological well-being of indi-
viduals is impacted depending on social comparisons that are played out
on social networking sites (SNS) through their digital extended selves.
User-generated content, in which people provide reviews of
products, brands, and companies on blogs, podcasts, and SNS such as
Facebook and Twitter, and even film their own commercials that
thousands view on YouTube, links the user with these expressions
interminably. Sheth and Solomon devise a
Digital Extended Self that expresses identity via permu-
tations of bits and bytes. Indeed, some social media
theorists use terms like social footprintsand
lifestreamsto describe this new form of digital iden-
tity. A social footprint is the mark a consumer leaves
after she occupies a specific digital space (e.g., today's
Facebook posts), while lifestream is the ongoing record
of a digital life across platforms (e.g., registrations in
virtual worlds, tweets, blog posts) (p. 127).
Indian users engage in constant reconstructions of self through pro-
jections in the ever-changing digital world. While studying the expres-
sion/construction of identity through SNS, Manzi et al. (2018) argue that
in using Facebook, people enter a sharedand predefinedcultural
world to which they tend to adapt(p. 81). Text-based computer-
mediated communication is privileged over other communication behav-
iors (face-to-face interactions), as it affords more bandwidth for strategic
self-presentation (Lee, 2008). Yee and Bailenson (2009) note, virtual
environments allow individuals to dramatically alter their self-represen-
tation(p. 285) controlling the perception created, both for self and the
other. These can include positive self-refashioning to highlight desirable
aspects diminishing those that construct a negative self-image. This stra-
tegic self-presentation can differ between genders.
1.4 |Gender and communication
Differences in the ways that men and women express themselves have
been a topic of extensive research,with many studies looking at different
language use by men and women. In the social sciences, research has
suggested that men's use of language is more instrumental in nature in
terms of conveying information. Women, on the other hand, use verbal
interactions targeted toward social purposes where the communication
is the goal (Brownlow, Rosamon, & Parker, 2003; Colley et al., 2004).
Eagly (1987) finds that while women are more communal, men typi-
cally demonstrate more agentic behaviors. Due to social and cultural pat-
terns, men are seen as more independent, individual, assertive, rational,
controlling, and autonomous while displaying more closed, unemotional,
and less expressive behaviors (Bond, 2009; Eagly, 1987; Lemish, 2008;
Petronio & Martin, 1986; Walker, 2008). They are associated with
aggression, action, competition, adventure, and preoccupationwith vehi-
cles and weapons (Lemish, 2008). Women, however, display behaviors
of concern about others' welfare, interpersonal sensitivity, openness,
empathy, dependence, and vulnerability (Eagly,1987; Lemish, 2008; Pet-
ronio & Martin, 1986). The patterns of women's communication indicate
a move toward solidarity, with language use signaling building relation-
ships, connections, and intimacy. In contrast, men display a desire for
power, with language used for instrumental and direct purposes of dis-
seminating information (Walker, 2008). Bond (2009) supports this infer-
ence stating that in face-to-face interpersonal interactions, women tend
to share more relationship-oriented information than men.
1.5 |Gender and social media communication
A Pew Research Centre report (2015) finds that although the overall per-
centage of both genders' use of SNS is now comparable, specific plat-
forms register clear gender differences. For example, online discussion
forums such as Slashdot and Digg see more male users, while Facebook,
Instagram, and Pinterest have a larger female user base. Twitter, Tumblr,
and LinkedIn do not register significant differences (Anderson, 2015).
While men's communication is more task and individually oriented,
women are more interpersonal (Eagly & Johnson, 1990; Gilligan, 1982;
Tannen, 1990). Jackson, Ervin, Gardner, and Schmitt (2001) conclude
that men may use the web more and women use more emails. Exploring
gender differences in terms of self-disclosure as seen in email usage and
face-to-face communication, Yu (2014) reports that in both cases,
women are more likely to do so. Researchers have also observed that
women join the digital age at a later stage (Dholakia, Dholakia, &
Pederson, 1994; NTIA, 1999) and, as a result, technology is seen as a
masculine domain (Badagliacco, 1990). Women tend to have some com-
puter anxiety and are likely to be technophobic. Fallows (2005) con-
cludes that men display greater interest in technology and are more tech
savvy. This reasoning supports the longstanding construction of the gen-
dered nature of technology (Lohan & Faulkner, 2004; Puente, 2008) with
the digital age being a quintessential toy for the boys(Faulkner, 2001).
Muscanell and Guadagno (2012) examined individuals' use of SNS
such as Facebook and MySpace in terms of the influence that gender
and personality exert, noting that women use SNS for relationship main-
tenance while men focus on forming new relationships. Haferkamp,
Eimler, Papadakis, and Kruck (2012) assessed the diverse motives of
users for participating in SNS such as MySpace and Facebook in general,
and the usageof self-presentation or specific profile elements in particu-
lar. They suggest that men scout other people's profiles to find friends
while women use SNS to search for information and compare them-
selves to others, preferring to add portrait photos to their profiles while
men choose full-body shots.
Guadagno, Muscanell, Okdie, Burk, and Ward (2011) found that
the differences in men's and women's engagement with various activi-
ties were in accordance with the social role theory. Men reported
2of9 NARGUNDKAR ET AL.
owning and working on their own virtual property, building things,
and were less likely to change the appearance of their avatar. On the
other hand, women met people, shopped, and regularly changed the
appearance of their avatar. This was previously established by Len-
hart, Lewis, and Rainie (2001) and Roberts and Foehr (2004) who
found that women engage with instant messaging and chat rooms,
while men are into online trading, games, music, and web pages.
Colley and Maltby (2008) conducted a study on Has the Internet
changed your life?and concluded that more men mentioned positive
sociopolitical effects, career opportunities, and negative aspects of
technology. Women mentioned meeting their partner, renewing old
friendships, making new friends, studying online, accessing informa-
tion and advice, and online shopping and booking travel. Tufekci and
Wilson (2012) concluded that women, in general, use Facebook and
Twitter for political activism more commonly.
Exploring the use of Information and Communications Technol-
ogy (ICT) in developing nations, Hilbert (2011) discusses the reasons
as to why fewer women from developing countries use digital plat-
forms, stating it is a direct result of their unfavorable conditions with
respect to employment, education and income(p. 479). She finds that
once these variables are controlled, women turn out to be more active
users of digital tools than men.
2|RESEARCH GAP
India has 462 million Internet users with a population penetration of
34.8% and a global user ranking of second place, based on Internet
usage (internetlivestats, 2016). With a user count of 300 million in the
year 2019, Indians rank first in the number of Facebook users across
the globe (The Statistics Portal, 2019). While these data suggest mas-
sive participation of Indians on the Internet, particularly on SNS, there
was very little research on the way young Indians use their digital
selves for self-presentation or self-expression. Specific anecdotal
instances, such as social campaigns, have been the focus of research
in this domain (Chattopadhyay, 2011; Harindranath & Khorana, 2014)
but the self-construction of Indian Internet users has not so far been
explored. Moreover, gendered expression and construction on SNS
has not been studied in the Indian context. This study focused on the
intersection of these two aspects in order to understand how young
Indian men and women express and construct their selves with Social
Media.
3|METHODOLOGY
Two focus group discussions were conducted among eight young adults
each (ages from 18 to 25) to ascertain how identity is expressed through
social media and other traditional media and activities, and reasons for
using SNS. Based on these inputs, a questionnaire wasconstructed,con-
sisting of 51 items on a Likert scale. This was used in a survey that yielded
299 usable responses, from among a sample of young people at a top
business school in India, enrolled in a full-time program.
The analysis started with a means table for all variables. An inde-
pendent sample ttest was then performed to check for differences
among male and female respondents. This yielded 12 variables on
which the mean values were significantly different at p< .05.
A factor analysis was performed for the full sample to determine
the presence of latent factors in the 50 variables.
4|RESULTS
A look at the top five mean values indicated that music, movie charac-
ters, TV characters, Travel to exotic destinations, and Facebook pic-
tures formed the basis of identity and/or self-expression for both
genders in the youth sampled. Thus, social media formed an important
component of their expressed identity and constructed selves.
Exploratory factor analysis and independent sample ttests
formed the basic analytical tools. Mean values for all the Likert-scale
items were computed for the full sample, and then a gender-based
comparison made. A total of 12 variables were identified for which
the t-test showed significant differences between genders at a 95%
confidence level. The variables are listed in Table 1.
An exploratory factor analysis with a varimax rotation (Tables 2
and 3) yielded 15 factors that explained about 63% of the total vari-
ance. Factors with loadings of .45 and above only were considered
while explaining each factor. The factors are listed below
1. Combined five items about identity and self-presentation focus-
ing on fitting in and standing out among friends.
2. Engagement on social mediasocial, political, and philosophical.
3. Identity reaffirmation through online friends.
4. Transcending real-world identity and problems through social
media.
5. Increase of social currency, or a feel-good factor.
TABLE 1 t-test. Means of 12 variables that were different for
males and females
Item/variable Male Female
Acads as self-expression 3.21 3.42
Watching sports is a means of
self-expression
3.28 2.78
Music as identity 3.89 4.08
Try to fit in online 2.85 2.25
Post content for appreciation (on social
media)
2.60 2.21
Trying to be more stylish on social media 2.34 2.06
Trying to be witty on Facebook 2.78 2.57
Created a second Identity (ID) for social
media
2.31 2.07
Social media used to impress oppsite sex 2.64 2.09
Political on social media 2.92 2.64
Social on social media 2.64 2.37
Philosophical on social media 2.63 2.35
NARGUNDKAR ET AL.3of9
6. Identity and TV shows and characters.
7. Using identity on social media to impress opposite sex.
8. Praise for good looks/new possessions.
9. Identity through films and film characters.
10. Identity through watching/playing sports.
11. Democracy in social media.
12. Photographs as a real part of me.
13. Mobile phone as a part of one's identity.
14. Selfies and self-expression.
15. Exotic travel destinations and self-expression.
5|DISCUSSION
The results found in this study support previous studies suggesting that
users extend their offline personalities into the social media space
(Gosling, Augustine, Vazire, Holtzman, & Gaddis, 2011). The first four
factorsfitting in and standing out; social, political, and philosophical
engagement on social media; identity reaffirmation through online fri-
ends; and transcending the real-world identity and associated problems
through social mediaare a way to extend and enhance their real selves
in the online space, rendering it more robust and attractive. Through
these modifications, they become more likeable and better assimilated in
their environments. However, the reverse is also true. Yee and Bailenson
(2009) concluded that the behavioral repertoire that is shaped by our
digital avatars in virtual environments carries over into physical settings.
They further add that both the physical and virtual selves can never truly
be liberatedfrom one another(pp. 308309).
Therefore, it can be stated that both men and women construct
concomitant identities that move between the real and the virtual,
demonstrated by Factor 3, which indicates that both genders engage
in a constant give-and-take in the self-fashioning process. Often,
users may post self-deprecating comments so that their friends post
contradictory affirmations that they are smart, good-looking, or nor-
mal (Belk, 2013). This two-way communication co-constructs identity
(Belk, 2013; Tufekci, 2012) through a constant interaction between
members engaged in posts and tags that often mutually bolster self-
construction. These selves then become interminably intertwined
blurring distinctions and making future virtual extensions an inherent
part of the perpetually constructed self, tailored to generate constant
mutual appreciation.
The factor analysis results show that there are several aspects
to an Indian young adult's identity that are related to social
mediaFacebook in particular. Fitting in and standing out are two
related objectives on social media because peer groups demand a
fitting in,whereas self-construction requires standing out.Fol-
lowing the examples of film and television personalities, young
adults construct selves to become more popular to reach comfort-
able levels of connectedness and recognition (Dijck, 2013). Dis-
cussing the formation of parasocial relationships in online
communities, Ballantine and Martin (2005) argue that while these
relationships are based on vicarious interactions through online
sources or with media personae, people who engage in them
always feel that they know and understand the persona in the
same intimate wayas their flesh-and-blood friends(p.199).This
vicarious construction of identity is demonstrated through Factor
6 where respondents, irrespective of gender, linked their identity
TABLE 2 Factor analysis output with the 15 extracted factors
Initial eigenvalues Extraction sums of squared loadings Rotation sums of squared loadings
Factor Total
%of
variance
Cumulative
% Total
Percentage
of variance
Cumulative
% Total
Percentage
of variance
Cumulative
%
1 9.354 18.709 18.709 9.354 18.709 18.709 3.832 7.663 7.663
2 2.836 5.672 24.381 2.836 5.672 24.381 3.431 6.863 14.526
3 2.734 5.467 29.848 2.734 5.467 29.848 2.974 5.948 20.474
4 2.178 4.356 34.205 2.178 4.356 34.205 2.305 4.611 25.085
5 1.658 3.317 37.521 1.658 3.317 37.521 2.257 4.513 29.598
6 1.641 3.282 40.803 1.641 3.282 40.803 1.987 3.975 33.573
7 1.471 2.943 43.746 1.471 2.943 43.746 1.908 3.817 37.389
8 1.424 2.848 46.594 1.424 2.848 46.594 1.859 3.717 41.107
9 1.330 2.659 49.253 1.330 2.659 49.253 1.769 3.538 44.645
10 1.267 2.534 51.787 1.267 2.534 51.787 1.711 3.422 48.067
11 1.204 2.409 54.196 1.204 2.409 54.196 1.653 3.307 51.374
12 1.160 2.319 56.515 1.160 2.319 56.515 1.623 3.246 54.620
13 1.092 2.185 58.700 1.092 2.185 58.700 1.577 3.154 57.773
14 1.080 2.160 60.859 1.080 2.160 60.859 1.323 2.646 60.420
15 1.051 2.102 62.962 1.051 2.102 62.962 1.271 2.542 62.962
Note: Extraction method: Principal component analysis.
4of9 NARGUNDKAR ET AL.
with TV shows and their characters. The living throughthese
characters supports self-construction through the illusion of a
two-way interaction that promotes intimate knowledge. These illu-
sions of intimacy are further transferred to members of SNS when
individuals create a virtual universe of knowingthrough a mon-
tage of the “‘good' (happy) moments of our lives(Belk, 1988,
p. 149), which makes them pseudocelebrities through the many
likesreceived on these moments.
Factor 4 demonstrates how users transcend the real world and its
problems through social media tools by constructing alternate reali-
ties. Moreover, with the new this day last yearfeature on SNS such
as Facebook, users are able to tap into nostalgia, which works as a
readily accessible psychological lens for the never-ending work of
constructing, maintaining, and reconstructing our identities(Davis,
1979, p. 31). Therefore, these assembled moments of our lives,
when displayed and reminded about on SNS, become effective tools
TABLE 3 Rotated factor matrix
Factor
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Fitin .660
Standout .614
Poscomm .456
Apprectn .688
Morestyl .707
Modify .659
Political .630
Social .775
Bolder .792
Philoso .651
Diversppl .629
Likemind .735
Reaffirm .710
Transcnd .702
Disadv .724
Desirable .696
Currency .489
TVchar .833
TVShow .824
Secondid .563
Trueid .748
Oppsex .542
Doingood .539
Bike .633
Looks .495
Films .779
Charfilms .570
Sportply .819
Sportwach .785
Acads .664
Selfconf .487
FBPics .771
Mobbrand .796
Selfies .689
Exodest .765
Note: Rotation method: Varimax with Kaiser normalization. All displayed values in bold are factor loadings that have been used for interpreting each of the
factors.
NARGUNDKAR ET AL.5of9
to extend the self, not only in terms of consistency through years but
also refashioning and recasting of self as time passes, which tran-
scends the constraints of space and time making it a more flattering
self-construction that derives its appeal from constancy and nostalgia.
Photographs on SNS, or travel descriptions/mentions are also a
part of expressing one's identity to online friends. Brown and Werner
(1985) have discussed how holiday decorations at homes promote the
idea of communal attachment and cultural ethos, providing security
and belonging. The construction of identities through travel pictures
can be a similar marker of belonging to a community with comparable
self-expression. Bateson (1982) points out that self and identity
depend upon people and things that compose our association. The
long friend lists on Facebook indicate that You are known by the
company you keep.This company of friends, and the Likesthey
bestow, becomes a way to extend and define self in more acceptable
and attractive ways for young Indian adults. It also facilitates entry
into groups through the people you might knowlist that Facebook
generates by finding common friends between the self and an, as yet,
unconnected other, who, once connected to, becomes an extension
of this nebulous world. Selfies and photographs on SNS become a
way of showing one's knowledge of self and self-development,
irrespective of gender. Zell and Moeller (2018) find that the increasing
number of likes and comments received on Facebook are associated
with feelings of greater happiness and self-esteem and enhance the
perception that this virtual community is interested in one's
good news.
However, Belk (2014) argues that while our virtual selves and
possessions form a part of our extended selves, they are unable to
take the place of tangible possessions, which are somehow more a
part of self. Nevertheless, contesting evidence reveals that most
young men and women attach extensive meaning to their virtual
selves and empower them with significances that may rival, if not
exceed, self-investment in tangible objects. Manzi et al. (2018) state
that Facebook profiles help in reinforcement and consolidation of
satisfaction of identity motiveswhich, become integral to the iden-
tity construction process. The only exception to this rule might be the
mobile phone, which is a constant presence in the lives of young peo-
ple. This tangible object, however, enjoys this proximity and attention
precisely because it allows users to constantly refashion their virtual
selves.
The young men and women studied, however, displayed differ-
ences in their construction of self in terms of gender. Table 1 show-
cases the means of the 12 variables on which men and women
demonstrated marked variety. While majority of the variable mean
values were significantly high for both, these parameters (Table 1)
showed variance. The t-test values indicate that women engage in
more tangible activities (academic achievements, listening to music) to
express themselves. For men, self-expression is through passive activ-
ities (watching [not playing] sports, fitting in online, posting content
for appreciation, being more stylish on social media).
Some of the atypical results were that women tended to engage
less in being stylish than men. This was an unexpected outcome of
the t-test, as it is commonly believed that women are more concerned
with looks and appearances. Men also engaged in creating second
identities for SNS and used these forums to impress members of the
opposite sex more than women. Men's sociopolitical and philosophical
personae on SNS turned out to be stronger than women. These
results demonstrate that men tend to be more ostentatious and pea-
cock-likein their self-construction and expression, with a heightened
focus on perception by the outside world (except for watching sports,
reserved for personal consumption). Women, on the other hand, focus
on self-improvement, as seen in their high scores on academic
achievements and on quiet reflection through music. Men in the sam-
ple scored significantly higher on the variable trying to fit in online
demonstrating their higher need for external approval, appreciation,
acceptance, and validation than women. Men were more aggressive
on SNS and focused on gathering attention and prestige. This can be
observed not only on conventional SNS such as Facebook but also on
professional social spaces such as LinkedIn. In their analysis of
LinkedIn portraits, Tifferet and Vilnai-Yavetz (2018) conclude that
women and men differ in self-presentation to quite an extent as
women are more likely to signal emotions, while men signaled status.
6|CONCLUSIONS AND CONTRIBUTIONS
Researchers have argued over the years that public and professional
spaces in the digital world are largely masculine in nature. Laurel Sut-
ton (1996) states that online communication is male-oriented and
male-dominated. Lohan and Faulkner (2004) and Puente (2008) have
argued that technology has always been a gendered space and the
findings of this study, where the mean values for women are lower
than those for men, support the masculine construction of technologi-
cal spaces. These findings further demonstrate that the space for
women's self-expression exists outside the virtual world, while men
engage more with the online universe. While this indicates that SNS
are important to young Indian adults of both genders, in building/
reaffirming their identities and as a form of self-expression, gender
plays a crucial role in the way young Indian adults identify and express
themselves.
Hilbert (2011) points out that data for developing countries sug-
gest that women are less likely to use technological platforms when
compared to men and this study corroborates this for India. The way
Indian women engage in self-construction refutes the contention of
studies like Tufekci and Wilson (2012) and Ng and Mitter (2005) who
state that women use technological platforms to engage in political
activism and organization as, in the Indian scenario, more men dis-
played sociopolitical and philosophical refashioning online. The cur-
rent study supports Colley and Maltby (2008) in that men garner
positive sociopolitical effects from the Internet and that women
engage in discussing academic achievement (high mean value of the
variable for academic achievements for self-expression). The construc-
tion of the extended self of the women respondents finds support in
Belk (2014) as they engage with tangible and real-world objects on a
more intimate basis compared to men who construct more appealing
and socially acceptable online selves to further engagement.
6of9 NARGUNDKAR ET AL.
The study contributes significantly by assessing the role that gen-
der and SNS play in the self-expression of young Indian adults, dem-
onstrating conclusively that one gender dominates the sphere of
Social Media. It further shows that technology continues to be a
largely masculine space of self-exploration in India while women
engage in nonvirtual means of self-expression. In this context, it is
notable that the women in the sample studied were from largely
privileged backgrounds, which demonstrates that self-expression on
SNS is not always controlled by lack of privilege or knowledge but
instead is gendered. Most significantly, it demonstrates that there is a
need to rethink the use and engagement of Indian female SNS users
with technology. Future research could examine the links explored in
this study between gender and virtual self-construction in other cul-
tures, with nuanced enquiry into female SNS users and engagement.
ORCID
Shweta Kushal https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3287-1508
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AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES
Dr. Rajendra V. Nargundkar currently Professor of Marketing at
Indian Institute of Management Indore, India, Dr. Nargundkar has
worked at top Indian Business Schools such as IIM Lucknow and
IIM Kozhikode. He started the PES Business Review, a scholarly
journal at PES University, Bangalore, where he worked earlier. He
has four major books to his credit- Marketing Research, Services
Marketing and International Marketing, and Brand Management
(co-authored with Bhagyalakshmi Venkatesh). His current
research and teaching interests are Social Media, Digital Market-
ing, Tourism and Retailing. He has a Bachelor's in Engineering
from Osmania University, an MBA from Indian Institute of Man-
agement Bangalore (1984), and a Ph.D. from Clemson University,
USA (1989). His work has been published in journals including the
Academy of Management Journal, and Journal of Global Market-
ing. His autobiography titled My Experiments with Half-truths,
available online. He is a keen golfer and blogger (rnargundkar.
blogpost.com).
Dr. Lubna Nafees is an Assistant Professor in the Department of
Marketing & Supply Chain Management, Walker College of Busi-
ness at The Appalachian State University. She has published in
The Journal of Food Products Marketing, The International Jour-
nal of Management Education, International Journal of Asian Busi-
ness and Information Management, Proceedings of the Society
for Marketing Advances, Proceedings of Australian and New
Zealand Academy of Management, Proceedings of Academy of
Marketing's Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation Special
Interest Group. She has co-authored a book on Family Managed,
Multinationals and Public Sector Enterprises: The strategic
choices for global competitiveness and has three edited books
Brands Rising as Products Fall, Brand Research and Innovative
Management Education Pedagogies for preparing next generation
leaders. Her case studies appear in WDI Publishing, Ivey Publish-
ing and the Case Centre. She also publishes in the Indian popular
media like the Business Standard Magazine and Hindu Business
8of9 NARGUNDKAR ET AL.
Line. She teaches papers on brand management, cross functional
simulation for leadership, integrated marketing communications,
digital marketing and Principles of Marketing. Her research and
consultancy interests include Branding and Brand Communica-
tions; Visual Imagery and Semiotics; digital marketing and man-
agement education.
Dr. Shweta Kushal an Assistant Professor of Communication at
Indian Institute of Management Indore, India, Dr. Shweta Kushal
earned her doctorate from the Department of Humanities and
Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India.
She teaches various aspects of communication and behaviour such
as Presentation Skills, Emotional Intelligence, Business Etiquette
and others to MBA students and practicing managers. Her current
research interests include Communication, Social Media, Gender
and Media, and Advertising. She has published in the Taylor and
Francis Journal of South Asian Diaspora. Having directed many full-
length play productions, she is very passionate about theatre.
How to cite this article: Nargundkar RV, Nafees L, Kushal S.
Young adults and their digitally extended selves: Assessing the
impact of gender. J Public Affairs. 2020;e2064. https://doi.org/
10.1002/pa.2064
NARGUNDKAR ET AL.9of9
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