Tagging and identity in the age of social media : a cultural critique

Bozzi, N 2020, Tagging and identity in the age of social media : a cultural critique , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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This thesis explores online identity through a cultural critique of tagging on social media. In particular, I discuss social media tagging in relation to historically and socially grounded labelling practices. While labelling has often been theorised as a social tool to oppress and marginalise, the technical infrastructure of social networks is contributing to the depoliticisation of identity labels and their repurposing for neoliberal self-branding. This can have empowering effects for individuals, but it also contributes to camouflage and minimise social conflicts and inequality. In order to highlight how specific tagging practices intersect with those conflicts, I critically discuss three cultural avatars that emerge from the collective performance of online identity by social media users: the Gangsta, the Digital Nomad, and the Troll. Rather than sociological figures, these avatars are intended as aesthetic materialisations of identity models that stand for specific social and cultural values. The controversial character of those values is what I set out to discuss in my cultural critique. Ultimately, I argue for a tactical approach to tagging and labelling practices, which can be leveraged to intervene in the definition of cultural avatars and generate socially productive criticism. Potentially, such criticism could help engender new figurations with a collective focus and an emancipatory or utopian potential. In order to draft a catalogue of tagging tactics to stimulate such critical conversations, in the last chapter I collect excerpts from a series of interviews I conducted with cultural producers (artists, theorists, activists) who tackle issues of identity and labelling from a critical perspective.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Kilby, JE (Supervisor) and Crawford, G (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Funders: University of Salford Pathway to Excellence Scholarship
Depositing User: Nicola Bozzi
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2020 08:01
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2022 11:51
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/57190

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