(SMALL) STORIES AS FEATURES ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Toward formatted storytelling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Since their inception, social media companies have been keen to o er users facilities for telling stories. The widely recognized power of storytelling for presenting ourselves, making sense of our experi- ence, and connecting with others has been harnessed by social media. Early features and prompts such as ‘what are you doing right now?’ on Facebook began to direct users to associate storytelling with sharing their experiences in the here-and-now.This early and, in some ways, technologically necessary coupling of storytelling with sharing the moment has been crucial for how storytelling facilities have evolved on social media (Georgakopoulou 2017). In a longitudinal study of stories on social media, I have identi ed a close link between speci c media a ordances – mainly portability, replicability, and scalability of content – and what in previous work I described as small stories (Georgakopoulou 2007). In this chapter, I interrogate this latest story-curation phase on social media by focusing on Snapchat and Instagram Stories. My starting point in this line of inquiry has been that the design of stories by platforms needs to be scrutinized with regard to the types of stories, lives, and selves that are promoted as worth sharing, and the values, views, and ideologies that underpin them (see Georgakopoulou 2019).As I show below, interrogating stories as a feature necessitates a view of them as socio-technical formats, that is, as normative co-patternings of media-a orded ways of telling and types of teller that have the potential to become recognizable as typical or generic stories on the platforms that o er them. I address the question of how this rapid recognizability and development of norms has been achieved.What processes have supported the formatting of stories as features and how can we, narrative analysts, study them? I show a methodological and analytical way of interrogating stories as a feature, underpinned by a technographic perspective on stories that tracks media a ordances, discourses about stories as features, and communicative practices. This approach is informed by methods and modes of analysis developed within small stories research, which is, in turn, informed by ethnographic and sociolinguistic perspectives on stories as contextualized practices. I have been syn- thesizing small stories research with insights from platform studies and science and technology studies that view social media environments as ideologically laden spaces shaped by technological choices and facilities.This synthesis allows me to study stories at the intersection of social media a ordances and users’ communicative practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Companion to Narrative Theory
EditorsPaul Dawson, Maria Makela
Number of pages148
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Apr 2022


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