Social Constructs of Online Feminine Identities in Social Media: A Thematic Analysis

Journal article


Wickens, E and Haughton, M. 2023. Social Constructs of Online Feminine Identities in Social Media: A Thematic Analysis . Psychology of Women and Equalities Review. pp. 1-9. https://doi.org/10.53841/bpspowe.2023.6.1.20
AuthorsWickens, E and Haughton, M.
Abstract

It has been argued that femininity is a form of control over women’s identity, and that femininity is predominantly performative. This research examines the performative nature of femininity in Instagram posts, based on the idea that social media is a means through which young women negotiate and perform their feminine identity. Self-presentation theories suggest that female social media users perform aspects of self-presentation as influenced by the audience, the situation, and implicit social constructs of gender. This study used Reflexive Thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with ten women Instagram users aged between 18 – 27, who post regularly to Instagram. The focus was on exploring the participant's detailed accounts of how they manage their online identity and self-presentation of femininity on Instagram. Emerging themes emphasised the performative aspects of self-presentation, such as self-surveillance and self-monitoring and impression management in relation to online social situations. Findings highlight the significant, influential aspect the audience plays in performative femininity as well as the importance of Goffman’s (1959) dramaturgical theory of self-presentation and Walkerdine’s (1989) concept of femininity as a performance. The study raises important questions about the presentation and performative elements of femininity on Instagram and how femininity is still a form of hegemonic control over women.

KeywordsPerformative identity; femininity; control over women
Year2023
JournalPsychology of Women and Equalities Review
Journal citationpp. 1-9
PublisherThe British Psychological Society
ISSN 2396-8796
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.53841/bpspowe.2023.6.1.20
Web address (URL)https://explore.bps.org.uk/content/bpspowe/6/1/20
Accepted author manuscript
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
OnlineMay 2023
Publication process dates
AcceptedApr 2023
Deposited05 Jun 2023
Supplemental file
File Access Level
Open
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License: All rights reserved
File access level: Open

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