(De)Constructing Womanhood: Adolescent Personal Blogs and the Political

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Agata ZBIKOWSKA, University of Warsaw, Poland
Researching teenage political activity online proves difficult for many reasons, both ethical and methodological (Bromseth 2002). One of them is the fact that young people rarely share their opinions directly in social media. They seem to have no political views, but research conducted offline (Jurczyszyn, Stefanski 2017) proves that this is not the case. While creating digital identities, adolescents tend to communicate their perspective in a less direct way: through memes, sharing interesting content privately with friends, clicking a “thumbs up” icon under texts they find thought-provoking. Therefore, in trying to find young people’s opinions on politics or society online, one has to read between the lines. One way of doing that is observing teenage personal blogs.

Written mostly by girls, they seem to revolve around fashion and cosmetics, but under closer inspection they reveal a range of opinions on politics and society. Their authors have a growing audience and tend to use social media promotion tools very competently, so their influence is steadily growing. They are the new digital elite, creating trends and setting an example to others.

In my paper I will present several case studies of popular Polish female teenage personal blogs. My presentation will focus on the way bloggers construct womanhood, which is not limited to looks. It is also performative (Butler 1990) and influenced, mostly unknowingly, by feminism, capitalism, materialism and other ideologies. Blog authors not only introduce their views, but also act on them, for example by cooperating or aspiring to cooperate with businesses. This raises mixed emotions among readers, who express them openly. As a result, values are constantly being negotiated between authors and readers, with private and public spheres merging and infiltrating one another.