My paper is based on qualitative results and reflections taken from a recently published Swedish study on social media, gaming and image communication among 10 and 13 year old in four schools in Stockholm (N 146). In my paper I focus on image communication and discuss two visual genres that exploded with camphones and the growing access to mobile internet, that is Selfies (self portraits) and Ussies (with friends). Over a short period of time these and other visual camphone-genres have become part of our increasingly mediatized everyday life (Hjarvard 2013) and the personal publishing genres that develop through networked publics online (Boyd 2010).
Selfies and Ussies also seem to be an unavoidable part of contemporary peer to peer gender socialization, inside and outside school, and in line with R.W Connell (2002) I see these as part of the appropriation of gender (R.W Connell 2002) through the performance of gender (Butler 1999). This agency means investments and explorations in contemporary gender identity; in close intersection with heteronormativity and age.
In relation to this a discussion of selfies as representations of a dominant gender order is appropriate, but I want to expand this through social semiotics (Kress 2010) as these images not only depicts a person, represents gender norms, and function as vehicles in impression management online/offline, selfies can also be seen as a form of communicative action taking place in the context of what Villi (2012) calls a ‘visual chit chat culture, where the photo opportunity, and the occasion, as well as possible reactions and comments (likes etc.) also are a part of the visual pragmatics. I addition to this I find it fruitful to see smart phones as relational objects (Turkle 2012) and personal interfaces between life offline (f.x. in school) and life online within individualized networks (Raine & Wellman 2012) connected to a wider participatory media culture (Jenkins 2006). Around this a set of practices are formed, and these can be understood through phenomenological and sociological perspective, as presented by Couldry (2012) and Moores (2012).
My paper centers on results from 26 focus group interviews and two workshops. My results on one hand show strong connections between selfies produced by tweens and teens and gender stereotypes and essentialist conceptions of gender. On the other hand the indicate practices of production, distribution and reception that partly undermines traditional gender categorizations.
2014. -20 p.
5th Sino-Nordic Women and Gender Studies conference "Gender and Communication", Beijing, September 22-24, 2014.