New Media Dissertations

Behind the camera: How social media 'selfies' bring authenticity into focus

It is not only technology that lead to selfies, nor is it the individual’s need for control in regards to self-representation, but it is also our society's culture... we are living in a world not of word, but of image.

Carrie Balloch

BA New Media, 2014

This empirical research builds upon existing research on identity representation in social media, and elaborates upon the contemporary concept of the networked self-portraiture, also known as the 'selfie'. This study focuses upon the authenticity of 'selfies' as visual forms of self-branding and calls into question notions of control. There are growing concerns upon the authenticity of online representations and the ability for exploration and identity experimentation to occur. Although there is a wealth of theoretical research surrounding social media platforms as well as identity representations, social networking services and technological enhancements are known to have made the notion of identity far more complex, leaving no doubt that empirical research contribution is needed. More specifically, it is apparent that there is lack of contextualisation upon emerging new media trends such as 'selfies', therefore contributing empirical research through the methods of visual analysis and depth interviews would be invaluable. This study begins by examining visual self-representations of young people aged between 14 and 21. Qualitative visual analysis was used to gain a general understanding into selfies, the sort of aspects emphasised and what identity messages are constructed, and how. However, the primary research method within this study is the method of depth interviews. Here I get behind the camera, understanding the motivations behind selfie producing, gaining an insight into the choices when representing the self through these means online, and last but not least, examining the extent that young people engage with their increased control with regards to constructing an identity online. I finish by concluding my findings and thoughts on whether selfies are authentic ways of representing the self. This empirical research contributes towards the wealth of scholarly theories, concepts and debates upon self-representations online and more importantly contemporary trends within social media practices. This study adds towards the current knowledge and research around social media user's engagement.

Laughing to Survive: Political Humour in Performance and Counter Performance.

The emphasis on satire and scorn paints politicians as either black or white, removing positive representations of government as a whole. While party leaders present themselves in a favourable light, their official broadcasts are fast becoming a vehicle to mock the opposition, overriding the good within political policy and practice.

Katy Mair

BA New Media, 2014

This research explores how and why humour is applied to both political performance and counter performance online. With an aim to identify the difference between official and spoof political broadcasts, this study strives to determine how the freedom to pass judgement and create satire on YouTube is changing how politics is represented. Channel four broadcasts are used as a control sample to aid the identification of discursive trends in political representation. The findings categorise emerging themes in these political broadcasts in a bid to recognise how people use the Internet and humour as facilitators of political discourse.

How Do Social Networking Sites And Friendship Groups Change Young Female Perceptions Of Body Image?

Friendship groups and their different values change how an individual perceives the perfect body image through the content they share on social networks. As an individual's social network increases in size the ability to make social comparisons increases, pushing more and more women to feel dissatisfied with their body.

Scarlett Thorpe

BA New Media, 2014

Research suggests that the media’s promotion of an increasingly thin ideal has led to a high percentage of the female population feeling dissatisfied with their body image. As this dissatisfaction has intensified, there is concern these women are at high risk of forming an unhealthy obsession, causing possible eating disorders. Although the media is commonly blamed for causing this dissatisfaction, more research needs to be done concerning the role of social networking sites and social circles. This investigation looks at how young woman are responding to the content on social networking sites. This research was carried out using photo elicitation in four different focused group interviews. Each focused group was made up of four individual friendship groups, chosen specifically to look at how social groups influence individuals differently. This investigation uses secondary research in order to get a context around media, body image, networking and other interconnecting factors. It looks at how networking has developed, becoming increasingly orientated around body related imagery, repeatedly showing the media’s thin body ideal. The primary research highlights the power these network infrastructures have given to friendship groups to change an individual’s behavior, as well as changing the degree of exposure they have to such media content. It suggests these networks have enabled more social comparisons to be made, predominately between an individual and their social peers due to the networks competitive nature. This investigation highlights how this social comparison with social peers has become an increasingly dangerous habit, making body dissatisfaction a common feeling in young women.

‘Perversions of online identity’: A critique of identity representation in social media

It is insufficient to simply consider the perversions of online identity, such as anonymity and commercialisation, without giving voice to some of the acts of resistance that refigure this debate.

Stewart Russell

BA Communications, 2013

This theoretical research aims to reinterpret and build upon existing research on identity representation in social media. The main narrative built throughout the body of this thesis centres on the perversion of online identity. Weaving together a range of different key theorists, debates and case studies, the narrative focuses on what are considered the two perversions of online identity representation: Anonymity and Commercialisation. Perhaps surprisingly, the latter part of this thesis repositions the argument by providing a counter to what has been hitherto discussed. It calls into question strategies of active resistance, suggesting that users are not without the agency to oppose these perversions should they so desire. In this way, this thesis aims to critically balance these two conflicting, yet incredibly relevant perspectives. The thesis makes effective use of a wealth of theoretical perspectives and concepts, in order to illustrate the breadth of this complex debate.

Changing representations of Disability: An Exploration of Physical Disability in Reality Television Programmes Across National and Cultural Contexts

Rosie Gee-Summons

BA New Media, 2015

This critical study explores an area of multimodal discourse and visual communication, namely the media representations of those with a physical disability across contexts, on UK and US television. A textual analysis of two media samples was conducted. The analysis looks at the range of representations of physical disability and investigates whether popular stereotypes of the disabled such as the disabled super cripple, the asexual and pitiable and pathetic, are still perpetuated in contemporary media. This study concludes that media representations still depicted elements of these stereotypes, but also highlights a change in some representations.

How successfully does This Girl Can challenge negative female stereotypes on its Twitter page? using the colour pink and calling the campaign This Girl Can, Sports England have taken the individual back to when they were a child, when gender stereotypes were heightened. The women used in the official photography on the Twitter pages are not girls, neither are the women who are tweeting in, a girl is a child, by naming it This Girl Can, a infantilising meaning is formed.

Isabelle Harrison

BA New Media, 2017

This Dissertation looks into how successfully the publically funded promotional campaign "This Girl Can" challenges negative female stereotypes. This Girl Can is a campaign that aims to get women of all shapes and sizes into sports and it is run by Sports England. Twitter is its primary means of communication with the public. Using both a Content Analysis and Survey the research identifies areas of success, including the promotion of body image positivity, and the limitations, these include the campaign's name and its promotion of certain sports over others. The conclusion is drawn that This Girl Can is not challenging these stereotypes but conforming to them. The key areas this dissertation focused on were; Sport, Women in Sport, Social Media, Marketing, Sportswomen in the Media, Stereotypes and Gender Roles.