UTFacultiesBMSDept TPSPhilosophyColloquia and Seminars

Colloquia and Seminars

Date - Time

Thursday, April 20, 15:45-17:15h.




Dr. Janna van Grunsven (TU Delft)


Inter-personal Identity-Exploration, Social Media Platforms, and the Impoverishment of Teenagers’ Field of Affordances 



short CV

One’s social identity is enacted through exploratory interpersonal interactions (interpersonal identity-explorations, hereafter). Teenagers, in particular, develop their sense of self as a social agent by trying out different opinions, jokes, commitments, and gestures and adapting to how others respond in return. In recent years, the spaces within which teenagers engage in interpersonal identity-exploration have become increasingly digitized, with teenagers overwhelmingly developing their social sense of self via social media platforms [SMPs]. SMPs have been linked to a socially devastating phenomenon affecting teenagers across the globe: being canceled by one’s peers. Looking at this phenomenon through the lens of affordance theory, we argue that SMPs and the abilities required for adequate SMP-interaction threaten to rigidify teenagers’ field of social affordances, silencing aspects that could otherwise be seen as affording opportunities for interpersonal identity-exploration. We also defend the more controversial claim that this silencing goes deeper than the becoming unavailable of a contingent set of social affordances and abilities. We position interpersonal identity-exploration as a constitutive meta-ability, by which we mean that it is an ability that 1) is constitutive of who we are as precarious adaptive social selves that 2) supports us in the development of additional social skills. This idea is implicit in some enactive-ecological and developmental research on social cognition. However, to the best of our knowledge, it has not yet been explicated as a constitutive meta-ability and integrated in today’s state-of-the-art affordance theory. At the end of the paper, we propose that the ability to engage in interpersonal identity-exploration is a core (yet underexplored) dimension of human flourishing.

Janna's presentation will be based on a paper she co-wrote with Lavinia Marin (TU Delft).

Janna van Grunsven is an assistant professor in TU Delft’s ethics and philosophy of technology section. With the support of an NWO Veni personal grant, she conducts research at the intersection of embodied cognition, philosophy and ethics of technology, and disability studies. In her project, Mattering Minds: Understanding the Ethical Lives of Technologically Embedded Beings with 4E Cognition , she is particularly interested in the notion of moral visibility, i.e. the idea that people’s expressive embodied behaviour is often (but certainly not always) directly seen by others as constraining and motivating a range of moral actions. Specifically, she examines how different technologies can promote or subvert people’s moral visibility and, with that, their ability to flourish as embodied beings, situated in a technological environment. Her work has appeared in journals such as Social EpistemologyEthics and Information TechnologyTechné: Research in Philosophy and TechnologyPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, and the Journal of Consciousness Studies. Furthermore, she coordinates The Human Condition research line, within research consortium the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies


Co-hosted by the Utwente Philosophy Lecture Committee (previously named the Philosophy Department Colloquium Committee). For questions you may contact co-hosts: Dr. Alexandria Poole or Dr. Yashar Saghai.