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From narrating the self to posting self(ies): a small stories approach to selfies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300–317
JournalOpen Linguistics
Issue number1
Early online date16 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2016


King's Authors


Selfies have by now earned a prominent place in the diverse forms of self- representation on social media. In sociolinguistic terms, they have been undergoing a process of enregisterment (Agha 2005), as attested to in moral panics in public discussions and in a developing selfie-related lexicon. A phenomenon worthy of study then, yet largely unexplored, particularly within discourse and sociolinguistic perspectives on identities (possibly due to the selfie's visual nature). My aim in this article is to venture (and justify) a 'claiming' of selfies by small stories. Selfies present the semiotic hallmarks of small stories, as I will show, and so they constitute valuable 'data', the study of which can benefit from small stories inquiry into genres as communicative and social practices on social media. Small stories apparatus is well- suited to selfie analysis: it has been specifically developed to account for genres that challenge the assumptions and modes of analysis of conventional narrative and life writing studies. Using data of selfie postings by adolescent women on FB, I will show how within a small stories framework, far from being narcissistic expressions of 'ideal selves', selfies emerge as contextualized and co-constructed presentations of self, shaped by media affordances.

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