Zexu Guan | Cashing in online fame in China: beauty blogger and Internet celebrity economy

PhD Project

Zexu Guan | Cashing in online fame in China: beauty blogger and Internet celebrity economy | Leiden University, Centre for the Arts in Society | Supervisor: Prof. Ernst van Alphen & Dr Eliza Steinbock | October 17, 2016 – October 17, 2020 | z.guan[at]hum.leidenuniv.nl

Chinese beauty bloggers are social media users, mainly women, who produce makeup tutorials regularly and attract plenty of followers successfully. In China, they are called wanghong (网红, Internet celebrity). With the online fame, this group creates pop-cultural trends on social media platforms and boost the e-commerce business. By cashing in their online fame, they transfer their usage of social media into business, shaping the new type of employment and economy in the age of social media in China. Despite their growing influence on Chinese society, the group has seldom received scholarly attention–in part, due to the fact that their labor looks like an amusement activity on social media, rather than serious work. My research is the first to focus exclusively on this group, by asking: how have the beauty bloggers on Weibo, a grass-roots group mainly consisting of women, grown in size and influence, to take the key role in the digital Chinese wanghong economy?

From the perspective of gender studies, my research will map the manifold reasons why female audience are fond of the beauty blogs. From the perspective of political economy of communication, my research will elaborate the dynamics between beauty bloggers, Internet industry, and cosmetic industry and reveal the hidden drives behind the rise of beauty bloggers. From the perspective of China studies, my research will explore the relationship between wanghong economy and the agenda of China’s government, aiming at bringing the online cultural phenomenon back to the social, political, and economic context of contemporary China.

 

Bjorn Beijnon | Schizophrenia and the Construction of Reality: Experiencing Subjectivities through Virtual Reality

Bjorn Beijnon | Schizophrenia and the Construction of Reality: Experiencing Subjectivities through Virtual Reality | University of Amsterdam | Promotor: prof. dr. Patricia Pisters, Supervisor: dr. Julian Kiverstein | September 2019 – august 2023 | b.beijnon[at]uva.nl

This research examines the exploration of virtual realities in the Virtual Reality Head-Mounted-Display (VR-HMD) as a way of studying the cognitive process of people with schizophrenia (PSZ). By taking a medical humanities approach, this research will, on the one hand, investigate the construction of reality and experience of subjectivity for PSZ in a virtual environment. On the other hand, this research shall examine how these experiences of such a reality and subjectivity by PSZ invite us to reassess the conception of the pathological in contemporary Western societies. By examining how the concept of the pathological is structured in Western urban screen cultures, this research will also investigate how the construction and experience of reality of PSZ can help to understand and re-evaluate what is considered as the normal nowadays. Eventually an answer shall be found for the following research question: How do people with schizophrenia construct and experience different subjectivities within contemporary Western urban screen cultures?

Carmen Longas Luque | Race/Ethnicity discourses in sports media. How racist is Spanish televised football?

Carmen Longas Luque | Race/Ethnicity discourses in sports media. How racist is Spanish televised football?

Carmen Longas Luque | Race/Ethnicity discourses in sports media. How racist is Spanish televised football? | Overarching project: How racist is televised football and do audiences react? | Erasmus University Rotterdam | Promotor: Prof. dr. Susanne Janssen; Co-promotor: Dr. Jacco van Sterkenburg | Project dates: January 2019 – December 2022 | longasluque[at]eshcc.eur.nl

This PhD project is part of a larger research project which examines discourses about race and ethnicity in televised football in several European countries. This project in particular, focuses on Spain.

Sports media is able to attract large audiences and in Europe, this is particularly the case with televised football. Despite journalism’s strive for objectivity, discourses in live coverages or post-match highlights may convey ideas that help produce and reproduce common stereotypes about race and ethnicity. While in other countries a difference in how football players are portrayed based on race/ethnicity has already been reported, it is still unknown whether this also applies to Spanish televised football.

Most research regarding this topic has focused on the content of these discourses, leaving the production and reception processes unexplored. Accordingly, we explore how these discourses are produced in the newsrooms and how do journalist’s ethnicities –predominantly white – influence the meanings given to race/ethnicity. This will as well contribute to extending the literature on whiteness in media production. Furthermore, we explore how content and production processes impact the reception of these messages by the audience. Considering all this, the main research question that we try to answer is How do discourses of race/ethnicity play a role in Spanish televised football production, and how are these discourses articulated at the nexus of televised football content and audience receptions?

Bringing these three processes together in one project, and using methods from different disciplines, such as content analysis or ethnographic work, is what makes this project innovative in its field.

At the end of the project, a follow-up study will compare the results obtained in the different European countries.

 

 

 

Arne van Lienden | Televising Difference: Race and Ethnicity in Polish Televised Football

Arne van Lienden | Televising Difference: Race and Ethnicity in Polish Televised Football | Overarching project: How Racist is Televised Football and do Audiences react | Erasmus University Rotterdam (ERMeCC) | Promoter, supervisor: Prof. Dr. Susanne Janssen (promotor) Dr. Jacco van Sterkenburg (co-promotor) | Project dates: 1 February 2019 – 1 February 2023 | vanlienden[at]eshcc.eur.nl

This research focuses on the ways in which hegemonic and stereotypical racialized discourses get reproduced in the domain of professional mediatized sports. It does so by focusing on the interplay between the content, the production process, and the audience reception of televised football in Poland and is part of the NWO-funded research project How racist is televised football and do audiences react? where the same is done in three other European countries. The research question is thus as follows: How do discourses of race/ethnicity and whiteness play a role in televised football production and how are these discourses articulated at the nexus of televised football content and audience receptions in Poland?

 

 

Lucie Chateau | Finding Political Empowerment in the Digital Public Sphere: Affects, Affordances and Aesthetics

Lucie Chateau | Finding Political Empowerment in the Digital Public Sphere: Affects, Affordances and Aesthetics | IMPACT: Empowering resilient society | Tilburg University | Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Martine S. Prange, Prof. Odile Heynders, Prof Michiel Bot | Project dates: 01/01/2019- 01/06/2023 | luciechateau[at]gmail.com

This project concerns the deliberative potential of digital public spheres and the possibility of finding a space for a critique of capitalism online, and the forms this critique might embody. To this, I will need to address the obstacles standing in the way of formulating a critique of ideology online. This will range from the structural to the more abstract, such as platform ownership and regimes of power under capitalism, (Dahlgren, 2005, Fuchs, 2014) algorithmic segregation, (Freelon, 2015) social networking site affordances (Bucher,2018) to a theory of affective communication and publics. (Papacharissi, 2015) The aesthetic forms to be studied are memes and their affective potential. Grammars of memes to be included are those that question or attack capitalism, either directly through the form of post-left community memes (Citarella, 2018) or indirectly through the widespread mainstream mental illness memes (own research). Eventually, my main research question will centre around the following:

  • To what extent can a critique of capitalism be articulated and effective in online contexts?

My project will take the form of a series of articles based on the themes outlined above. Subsequent research questions in development will include the following; 1) How do depression memes mobilise an affective discontent around regimes of work under late stage capitalism? 2) How do the affordances of Reddit, Instagram and Tumblr shape the anti-capitalism subcultures present on the platforms?