Personal videos, videos taken by common people to document their lives, are a ubiquitous and regular aspect of social life which remains strikingly understudied in Sociology. Bourdieu (1990) and Chalfen (1987) have both produced works examining the uses of personal photography and video in the context of families; and both suggest that video plays an important role in fostering group solidarity within families. However, as a body of scholarship (Van House (2011), Lange (2011), van Dijck (2008)) shows, recent shifts in technology (namely the emergence of camera phones and social media) may greatly alter contemporary video and photo practices. In this context, this study aims to understand the personal video practices of contemporary college students, particularly in regards to group solidarity and presentation of the self, through a series of eleven in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with Hamilton College students. The findings of the study suggest that technological shifts have expanded the uses of personal video to include presentation of self and identity formation. At the same time, however, the social function of personal video as a tool for solidarity seems to remain a central use of contemporary video. This study illuminates the uses of personal video by college students while also demonstrating the ways in which foundational sociological theories can be modified to help understand the modern, digital, social world.

Type of Work


Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Matthew Grace

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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