When A Nobody Becomes A Somebody: Understanding Beauty Bloggers in Thailand
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This dissertation explores the rise of microcelebrity beauty bloggers in Thailand. It considers beauty blogging as one instance of a larger global phenomenon. The phenomenon includes new types of non-professional cultural producers in non-Western settings who emerge onto the social media scene. I argue that the beauty blogosphere is a site of struggle (Bourdieu, 1993a, 1996) requiring beauty bloggers to perform gender (Butler, 1990) in accumulating different forms of capital as resources (Bourdieu, 1993a, 1996, 2007) for identity formation, cultural norm negotiation, and social mobility. To understand social practices and representations of gender identity and beauty norms, I analyzed thirty-one Facebook Pages used as micro-blogs by beauty bloggers in their blogging career, following the critical discourse analysis (CDA) framework by Fairclough (1995, 2003). To explore capital accumulation and convertibility in the beauty blogosphere, I held in-depth interviews with the beauty bloggers whom I studied their Facebook Page. The findings show that non-static gendered habitus, convertible capital, and changeable social positions allow Thai beauty bloggers to enact different social practices underlying performative acts (Butler, 1990) represented through their microcelebrity personas (Marwick, 2015; Senft, 2008) in achieving better positions in the Thai beauty blogosphere (Bourdieu, 1993a). Therefore, when a nobody becomes a somebody, the nobody moves to a more prosperous social position. A significant shift of the cultural production field suggests a vertical move within the specific subfield and a horizontal move towards a market-driven field. In the “fitting in culture,” Thai microcelebrity beauty bloggers “stand out” from other bloggers who have recently begun blogging and other regular media users, while positioning themselves as part of the beauty industry. The beauty blogosphere, thus, serves as a gendered and cultural space in which beauty personas representing gender and cultural competence that undergird taste display are proxies for social approval, economic gain, and social status attainment.
Subjectmicrocelebrity, Thailand, beauty bloggers, cultural production, gender, capital, social media, digital communication, Facebook