Girl Bloggers: Posthumanism and Girls' Online Activism
Sheppard, Lindsay C.
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In this thesis, I explore the complexity of young women’s online activism through analysis of five blogs and online interviews with three of the bloggers. Informed by Karen Barad’s approach to posthumanism, I examine how specific material-discursive entanglements around girlhood, youth and activism co-constitute meanings and experiences of activism and activist subjectivities. Four themes and various subthemes emerged from my analysis. First, the blogging process is complex, involving various entangled materialities (e.g. art, wifi, laptops, notebooks), space, time and discourses around what makes a “good” blogger. Second, the format and content of the blogs, as well as the bloggers’ narratives, illustrate tensions and similarities between mobilizing an online gendered activist subjectivity and social media influencer (i.e. micro-celebrity) subjectivity within a broader neoliberal culture focused on entrepreneurship and individual success. The young women’s comments highlight the ways that neoliberal girl power narratives underpin expectations of activist bloggers. Third, young women engaged in activism on their blogs and on other connected social media accounts, where they represented activism through individualized approaches, and more rarely, as involving broader systemic critique. The young women conceptualized activism broadly, although their discussions of activist blogging and self-identification as activists were messy and contextual. The final theme considers how intersecting social positionings (e.g. gender, race, class, age, disability) shape access to and experiences with activist blogging. Overall, the aim of this project is to offer a rethinking of young women’s activism blogging that attends to the force of entangled material-discursive contexts.