The Selfie Subjectivity of Trans* Social Media Influencers
The selfie has emerged as one of the most globally recognizable images and is embroiled in both popular culture and scholarly debates, without a consensus in sight. It is one of the foremost ways in which individuals decode expectations of hegemonic subjectivity and encode their identities in accordance with or subversion of those codes as determined by the many intricacies of the selfie. I argue that we approach selfies as a mediated extension of the practices and power matrices which inscribe and materialize our subjectivity, and that the ambiguity of such digital self-portraits is not a bug, but rather a crucial feature of this digital social code: it is evidence of the abject, a vital part of our subjectivity. I build my analysis on Judith Butler’s engagement with sociologist Erving Goffman and philosopher Julia Kristeva, and Ace Lehner’s seminal selfie theory. Using examples of trans-identifying Instagram influencers, I present an understanding of the selfie that allows individuals to powerfully mobilize the selfie to challenge and disrupt oppressive codes of subjectivity.
The Emergence of the Norwegian Police Emergency Control Room Twitter
Over the last decade, Twitter has become one of the main communication channels for the Norwegian Police Service about ongoing events. Every police district has an official Twitter account staffed from their emergency control rooms. This utilization of a commercial web-based platform with a broad reach within the population has changed the presence of the police in the public in significant yet subtle ways, as a phenomenon where programmatic code, semiotic codes, and formal and implicit codes of conduct meet.
This article provides a re-conceptualization of code as a hybrid analytical concept within a material-discursive framework. It explores how the materiality of technologies—the codes that materialize social media platforms—are integral in shaping our discursive landscapes. In what ways can the concept of codes elucidate the entanglements that create cultural phenomena in connective cultures? The empirical ground for this exploration is based on a combination of computational and qualitative close reading of tweets made by the Norwegian police from September 2011 to August 2021, and analysis of media texts and governmental documents.
A Monocultural Multiculturalism
This article focuses on the representation of ethnic diversity in multicultural emojis. Multicultural emojis are interpreted in this study as a neoliberal representation of diversity that has reincorporated white supremacist ideology traits, namely color classification, and the Vitruvian Man body design. Thus, I argue that multicultural emojis primarily reflect a typical Western worldview which supports a Eurocentric monoculturalism. Multicultural emojis can, therefore, be interpreted as serving as a set of body depictions whose façade shows diversity while keeping the privilege of the Caucasian body at its core. In the context of this article, code refers to both formulation in the form of symbols and signs, and the signs and signals of communication. The neoliberal coding of the human body, then, highlights how the human body is translated into neoliberal signals or symbols. Neoliberalism values a global market and embraces diversity within this rationale. I argue that instead of trying to eliminate racism by valuing diverse identities equally, neoliberalism lays the ground for the assimilation of diversity into the Western model of subjectivity, which, at its best, offers partial and biased perspectives.
To discuss my point, I investigate two visual codes of multicultural emojis: color categorization and the Vitruvian Man body template. I propose that different ethnicities are displayed in emojis through a Jim Crow-type segregative mindset, which defines identity as ‘color.’ At the heart of this thinking, one can find the association of ‘whiteness’ with pureness, and ‘blackness’ with evilness. Second, the body template in multicultural emojis is limited to a Western body-drawing tradition rooted in the sketches of the Vitruvian Man; an illustration that has traditionally represented the Caucasian body model against whose proportions the body of others should be measured and considered normal/abnormal.
A Scientific-Literary Essay
The essay approaches research as an aesthetic practice that involves not only rational-cognitive experiences but also bodily-sensory and affective ones. I outline this assumption using the example of interpretation processes in Grounded Theory research. Here, the analysis of empirical data takes place in the circular process of elaborating codes and categories and aims to develop an empirically based theory. Codes in Grounded Theory research are both analytically condensed and condensing constructs themselves, as they are produced in a co-constructive process that takes place between the researchers and the data. The process of coding thus also implies a relational level—the relationship between the researchers and the field of research, represented by the data—and is characterized by emotions, feelings and bodily-sensory perceptions that shape the production of knowledge about this very field. The codes condense aesthetic experiences, making them available on a discursive and a (self-)reflexive level all at once. Therefore, the article applies the question ‘What do we do with codes?’ to the practice of qualitative social research and seeks to answer it from an aestheticizing perspective, focusing on subjectivity and its epistemological potential.