Search engines have become the gateway to finding information online in contemporary society. Through mobile devices, online search is made possible almost anywhere, anytime, and about any topic. Against this backdrop, this thesis addresses the role of search engines and mobile devices in the everyday life of teenagers in Sweden. Focus within the study is both on the way that teenagers use search engines, and how they navigate expectations and rules surrounding the use of search engines, and mobile devices, in various contexts. This is investigated through fieldwork in three different schools. Drawing on theories of impression management and frame analysis, the thesis explores how online search is done in school, how Google Search is assigned meaning, conceptualizations of online traces of search, as well as the relation between the smartphone and online search. The thesis illustrates the way that online search is a taken for granted part of everyday life for young people. Young people’s awareness of expectations and norms, surrounding the use of search engines and mobile devices, also surface within the study. At the same time, the activities of online search are not always reflected upon as they have become commonplace, and intertwined with many other everyday activities. The findings highlight the need for scrutinising the workings of search engines in everyday life.
Cecilia Andersson, Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University. Performing search is her doctoral thesis in Information Studies