[Air-L] Social media and postfeminism?

Tyler Bickford tb2139 at columbia.edu
Wed Dec 19 06:26:56 PST 2012

Hi all, 

Can anyone direct me to scholarship linking social networking sites and postfeminism? Or better, arguing that certain phenomena of social media reflect a postfeminist sensibility?

I'm thinking in particular of issues like self-branding, self-commodification, the public performance of private/intimate experience, and the critique of empowerment-through-consumption that seem to come up regularly in regard to both topics. For one example, Rob Horning frames his critique of Facebook in "Facebook in the Age of Facebook" (http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/facebook-in-the-age-of-facebook/) as a symptom of neoliberalism, but it seems to me like some of the phenomena he's pointing to are also characteristic of postfeminism, and I wonder if there's a gender critique here?  

I've seen arguments that the growth of the service sector under neoliberalism reflects a sort of "feminization" of labor (though I'd like to disavow that phrase a bit). Or also the converse, Arlie Hochschild's arguments about the "commercialization of intimate life." Both perspectives seems relevant to social networking sites, where the immaterial labor that users produce is perhaps also gendered in similar ways? That is, rather than gendered practices *within* Facebook, maybe I'm asking about Facebook etc *as* a potentially gendered practice. And then maybe Horning and others' desperation about inauthenticity can be seen as at least homologous with anxious narratives about labor precarity and male decline in the "new economy"?

So perhaps my question is: postfeminism and neoliberalism have been linked, and neoliberalism and social media have been linked, but do we have to go through neoliberalism to connect the two, or has anyone directly linked social media practices to the postfeminist sensibility? 

Apologies for the long post. This is coming from a place of ignorance, so please excuse me if I've missed anything obvious.

Thank you for your help!!

Best wishes,

Tyler Bickford, PhD
Core Lecturer
Columbia University
tb2139 at columbia.edu

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