Chapter 3: Thinking beyond the Internet as a tool: Girls’ online spaces as postfeminist structures of surveillance – Akane Kanai

ABSTRACT

Kanai’s chapter explores notions of online agency in greater detail. She argues that feminist scholars should be careful to distance themselves from neo-liberal, post feminist discourses that position girlhood as an ongoing project of self-improvement. The constant self-surveillance and discipline required in such a project are consistent with the commercial agenda behind social media, but they also work to collapse agency into a highly disciplined performance of self as “brand”. Instead, Kanai applies a Foucaultian understanding of discipline to reinvigorate the interrogation of online spaces as complex, mediated sites of power, in which heightened conditions of surveillance and intimacy invite particular gendered practices of (self) control. By complicating our understanding of social media in this way, we will be able to map the tensions that exist in girls’ online self-presentations and more empathetically appreciate how they “do identity” in the highly fraught and complex mediatized social environment in which they live.

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