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Shaigerova L.A., Shilko R.S., Vakhantseva O.V., Zinchenko Yu.P. (2019). Outlook of using social network analysis to study ethnocultural identity in adolescents in online communities. National Psychological Journal, [Natsional’nyy psikhologicheskiy zhurnal], (12) 3, 4–16.


Background. The life of modern adolescents is inseparable from online communities that are not only means of communication and source of information, but they also mediate the development of interpersonal and intergroup attitudes, the process of socialization and shape identity. The study of the processes in online communities helps to determine the influence of digital society on the formation of ethnocultural identity and the risks of its negative transformations, the emergence and spread of negative attitudes, xenophobia, and intergroup hostility. Social Network Analysis (SNA), widely used in a number of disciplines but still rarely used in psychological research, may provide new opportunities to explore these processes in online communities.

Objective. The research was aimed at examining the possibilities of applying social network analysis to the study of ethnocultural identity of Russian adolescents.

Design. By creating a code in the language R (R 3.6.1 + R Studio 1.2.1335), the analysis of the relations of a number of communities of the social network «Vkontakte», whose content is relevant to various aspects of ethnocultural (ethnic, cultural, religious, regional, national) identity was performed. In these communities Moscow and St. Petersburg dwellers aged 14 to 18 years were identified and sampled (78,784 Moscow-based users and 210,815 St. Petersburg-based users). Based on the results, social graphs were constructed and the analysis of relations between communities in the two cities of Russia was carried out.

Results. The general tendencies and differences between the links of online communities, the content of which is relevant to various aspects of ethnocultural identity in the cities of Russia under consideration, are revealed. For the target category, Moscow-based and St. Petersburg-based user-adolescents, the online communities were considered to be most relevant between those with ethnic content. The differences relate to connexions between large community called «Russia» and other studied online communities. There is no connexion between all other communities from Moscow with community «Russia» while adolescents-users from St. Petersburg actively participate in the community «Russia», especially those who are in communities whose content is devoted to ethnic and cultural issues.

Conclusion. The results show the existing outlooks for the social networks analysis, which allows to cover a wide range of users of online communities, for the study of ethnocultural identity of adolescents in the digital society. Obtained by analyzing social networking data derived from user activity in Internet communities, reflect the regularities, identified through an earlier social-psychological study involving adolescents who live in the same area. The socio-cultural context mediates online identity and offline identity in a similar way, which is confirmed by the revealed differences in the connections of online communities in different subjects of the Russian Federation. Despite the long-term social network analysis in sociology and other sciences, psychology is using this method as exploratory tool. In relation to the study of ethnocultural identity and related phenomena SNA requires additional development based on the interdisciplinary interaction of various sciences and areas and the necessary comparison of the results with the results obtained by other methods.

Received: 09/16/2019
Accepted: 09/21/2019
Pages: 4-16
DOI: 10.11621/npj.2019.0302

By: ; ; ; ;

Sections: Psychology of virtual reality;

PDF: /pdf/npj-no35-2019/npj_no35_2019_004-016.pdf

Keywords: social network analysis (SNA); social graphs; adolescents; ethno­cultural identity; regions of Russian Federation; social mining;

Available Online 20.10.2019


The research was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project No 15-18-00109).

Fig 1. Relations between communities of the VKontakte network in Moscow (relative)

Fig 2. Relations between communities of the VKontakte network in St.-Petersburg (relative)

Table 1. Samples by thematic component

Main content of communities (aspect of ethnocultural identity)



My Moscow,

My Moscow. I love my city

St. Petersburg is my city! | Piter | SPB



I love Islam

I'm a Christian,

I believe † Orthodoxy


Moscow: History of Moscow,

Saint Petersburg | History of Pieter






Table 2. Community activity in Moscow and St. Petersburg based on the recent 300 posts


Activity Indicators

Community size (total), prns

Community size (adolescents), prns

Posts per day, N

Likes Median, N

Comments Median, N

My Moscow






My Moscow. I love my city






St. Petersburg is my city!












I’m Christian






I love Islam






I believe + Orthodoxy






Moscow: History of Moscow






Saint Petersburg | History of Piter

























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For citing this article:

Shaigerova L.A., Shilko R.S., Vakhantseva O.V., Zinchenko Yu.P. (2019). Outlook of using social network analysis to study ethnocultural identity in adolescents in online communities. National Psychological Journal, [Natsional’nyy psikhologicheskiy zhurnal], (12) 3, 4–16.

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