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Saturday, September 14 • 11:11am - 11:30am
“Working on my online cred: A case study of Quebec women’s blogging”

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For Schau and Gilly, ‘[…] personal Web sites allow consumers to self-present 24/7 beyond a regional setting to the virtual world’ (2003: 387); similarly, on the blogosphere, whom a blogger knows may enhance her online visibility and credibility. To paraphrase Walter Rettberg, blogging not only enables a presentation of the self as individuals; it allows for users to ‘publicly proclaim our relationships’ (2008: 75-76). As a recognised form of social media (Page 2012), blogs may serve as a platform on which to display one’s network, which Dominick refers to as ‘social association’ (1999: 655) and thereby express one’s social competence (Bortree 2005; Dominick 1999), possibly producing benefits.

In this paper, I address Quebecoises’ use of blogging as a platform for aiming to build, sustain and display social relationships, either primarily online or offline. My fieldwork interviews, conducted in 2008-2009, as well as data found on participants’ blogs, reveal many reasons for blogging including being able to connect with others who share similar worldviews, experiences or interests. However, in order to connect with others, one has to display her social competence, or online cred, by clearly demonstrating her status as a blogger worthy of one’s attention and words. My own online credibility was assessed by a blogger who, when I requested by email to meet with her for my doctoral research, replied using the following words: ‘Dear Laurence,’ and went on to describe me using information she found online: ‘scholarly, vegetarian, twin sister, feminist and living in the Outaouais region, although soon to return to Sussex, England’. These descriptors revealed that she had looked up my credentials, most of which are mentioned or referenced on my research blog, set up for the purpose of my doctoral degree, and perhaps felt that she knew enough about me to agree to participate in my project. 

Though I first became cognisant of the phenomenon of social association when reading the aforementioned email, its importance in shaping bloggers’ understandings of their own actions and interactions eluded me. However, data collected during my doctoral research compels me to argue that blogging serves to portray one’s existing relationships in an attempt to solidify or to expand one’s social networks and thereby obtain related advantages. Furthermore, I suggest that there is a sense of tension that arises from wanting to present one’s network as it may mean forfeiting online comfort levels by bringing together diverse personal acquaintances. Indeed, presenting one’s network exposes bloggers to audiences that are colliding (Walker Rettberg 2008) like never before in their offline lives, which may have direct negative consequences on their pre-existing social networks. 

• Bortree, Denise Sevick (2005), ‘Presentation of Self on the Web: an ethnographic study of teenage girls’ weblogs’. in Education, Communication & Information, 5 (1), pp. 25-39 
• Dominick, Joseph R. (1999) ‘Who do you think you are? Personal home pages and self- presentation on the World Wide Web’, in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 76(4), pp. 646–658 
• Page, Ruth E. (2012), Stories and Social Media. Identities and Interaction. New York, London: Routledge, 240 p. 
• Schau, Hope Jensen and Mary C. Gilly (2003). ‘We Are What we Post? Self-Presentation in Personal Web Space’. in Journal of Consumer Research 30(3). pp. 385-404. 
• Walker Rettberg, Jill (2008), Blogging. Cambridge: Polity Press, 176 p.

avatar for Laurence Clennett-Sirois

Laurence Clennett-Sirois

PhD Candidate, University of Sussex
My primary research interest is in the area of media, cultural, gender and women’s studies. Feminist cultural studies work towards a critical understanding of how gender discourses, specifically femininities, are constructed, challenged or upheld in popular culture and the media... Read More →

Saturday September 14, 2013 11:11am - 11:30am EDT
ROWE 1020

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