Norwegian Girls in Mainstream Blogging : Performed Blogging Selves, Experienced Digital Competences, Gendered Discourses
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During recent years, blogging has become established as an important part of Norwegian girls’ digital media culture. This doctoral thesis is the first in-depth, longitudinal investigation that acknowledges, documents, and theorizes Norwegian girls’ experiences of participation in mainstream blogging. In taking as the point of departure teenage female bloggers’ stories of participation, this work bridges a knowledge gap by investigating girls’ own experiences from a competitive and commercialized digital media practice over time. Combining qualitative in-depth interviewing and ethnographic analyses of blogs in a longitudinal design, I investigate how girls perform identity in blogs over time and which digital competences they find meaningful for participation in the blogging practice. I also carry out critical discourse analysis of Norwegian press coverage in order to analyze how the blogging girls are positioned in the press commentary. Drawing on a combination of theoretical frameworks, I strive for a holistic investigation of girls’ participation that takes into consideration both the realities of everyday interactions with the mainstream blogging community and the audience, and of the wider cultural and technological context as well as discourses that frame, regulate, and discipline these everyday interactions. According to my findings, girls perform identity in blogs in various ways, picking up strategies of performing identity according to goals that often change over time, and identifying with these performances to varying degrees. The meanings the girls tie to digital competences are varied, both aligning and contrasting with the normative conceptualizations of digital competences. Blogging girls come across as reflexive subjects in performing identity and developing digital competences. At the same time, their participation is framed by the interactions with the audience and by the norm of competitiveness, perfect femininity, and commercialization that characterizes the mainstream blogging community as well as by the wider cultural context and gendered discourses beyond this community. The dissertation contributes to the theorization of performing identity in online-based settings and of developing digital competences by providing empirical findings that support, as well as further develop, some of the existing theories. Importantly, this work provides some insights into the processes and girls’ longitudinal experiences tied to participation in contemporary digital media culture in the Nordic context.