#Lads on Social Media: Investigating Young Networked Masculinities

This project explores how young men (aged 18-25 years) in the United Kingdom use social media to form and develop their masculinised identifications, social connections and networks, particularly those that centre around ‘laddish’ identities, to better understand young people’s experiences of these practices and support them in critically navigating digitized spaces.

A key focus of this project is to consider how ‘lad’ and ‘laddish’ behaviours fit into wider processes of developing young masculine identities on social media spaces. Key questions this project wishes to address are: what does it mean to be a ‘lad’ on social media? What sort of content is posted, shared and liked within these spaces? What role do these digitized spaces play in forming friendships and social connections, both on and offline? To what extent do ‘laddish’ practices on social media influence young people’s behaviour in online and offline spaces?

Aims & Methodologies

This project aims to make a positive societal impact by using its key research findings to develop training resources for community-based organisations in the UK who support young people in critically exploring, understanding and navigating masculinized practices in online spaces and beyond.

This project will address these research objectives by:

  • Employing qualitative research methods (non-participant observation, data scraping, focus groups and interviews) to critically examine how young men (aged 18-25 years) use social media to form and develop their masculinised identifications, social connections and networks, from the perspective of all gendered groups in this age group.
  • Exploring the extent to which gender-making practices associated with lad identities in UK contexts influence young people’s behaviour both online and offline.
  • Investigating the role that social media networks, particularly digital infrastructures, play in the development of young masculinities, particularly those associated with ‘laddish’ identities.
  • Working with three UK community-based partners - Good Lad Initiative, Survivors Network and METRO to help develop research-based training materials, to support young people in critically exploring, understanding and navigating masculinised practices in online spaces and beyond.

Two researchers from the Department of Communication are conducting this project. Dr Craig Haslop, Principal Investigator, is a Lecturer in Media, and Dr. Fiona O’Rourke is Research Associate.

Get Involved

The project is currently recruiting young people (aged 18-25 yrs) to take part in focus groups and interviews, which will provide them with the opportunity to discuss what they think it means to be a lad on social media and to share their views about these practices. You can find further information about these focus groups and interviews on our project website, which you can access here.

This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.