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Girls on Fotolog: Reproduction of gender stereotypes or identity play?

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In recent years a great deal of contemporary research has centred its attention on teenagers’ online presence and behaviour, thus responding to educators and parents’ increasing concerns regarding privacy and safety on the Internet. This article is the result of an in-depth qualitative study looking at anonymous girls’ picture albums on Fotolog, one of Spain’s most popular social networking sites (SNS). The main goal is to gain insight into these girls’ self-representation strategies, looking at what kind of images they choose to upload and which of the gender displays found in mass media portrayals they incorporate. Coding was done according to Goffmanian categories of gender display and performance (feminine touch, ritualization of subordination, licensed withdrawal), combined with findings from other studies (male gaze, representation as sexual subjects, pleasing ourselves and lesbian pose). Results show that girls are quite skilful in their self-representation techniques – and become more successful in conveying a specific image of themselves over time by using Fotolog affordances, which suggests that these sites allow them to freely experiment with identity and play with conventional codes of gender display. We identified at least three gender display codes girls play with: the supermodel, the languid romantic and the trash chic girl. Further research involving interviews with Fotolog teen users should reveal the extent to which these girls are aware of privacy and safety issues related to their self-representations.
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Keywords: Fotolog; gender display; girls; identity construction; self-representation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University Barcelona 2: University Rovira i Virgili

Publication date: 23 July 2012

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