Friends, lovers, risk and intimacy: risk-taking as a socially meaningful practice
In this article we aim to analyse and discuss the notion of risk in photo-sharing practices and the purposes risk serves in the development of intimate relationships. We will argue that risk in the form of self-disclosure is an inseparable aspect of intimate photo-sharing rather than an undesirable side-effect, and that a broader analytical perspective on the role of risk in the development of intimate relationships allows us to understand risky photo-sharing as socially meaningful practice. We will unfold and elaborate this theoretical perspective on the basis of five focus-group interviews with 21 German high schools students aged 14 to 17. The interviews focus on the participants’ sharing practices, and the role risk plays in relation to these practices. The data indicates that risk does indeed serve a social purpose as a way of ‘proving friendship’. Yet, it also indicates that the young people in question are more willing to accept risk related to ‘friendly intimacy’ as compared to ‘romantic intimacy’. We will discuss the possible background for this difference as well as its wider methodological and theoretical implications.
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