Becoming stardolls : untangling postfeminist and romantic childhood (re)positionings in tween girlhood

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Gutteridge, Isobel Charlotte
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This thesis analyses the construction and negotiation of ‘the tween’ and tween cultural spaces online, forming part of an emerging field of digital girlhood studies. The research is situated in two online ‘tween’ spaces: Stardoll, a commercial website, and The Ugly Side of Stardoll, a blog run by members of Stardoll. Combining a ‘cultural analysis’ approach with ethnographic traditions such as ‘immersion’ and ‘mapping’, this thesis interrogates articulations of tween culture through interlinking online case studies. The key findings of this thesis are centred on three themes. First, the construction of an explicitly tween culture on Stardoll that situates the site within a commodified pinkification of girl culture. Second, the governance of boundaries of tween girlhood, examined through two features of the site. (1) I argue that the production of Cyrus as a tween celebrity, by Stardoll and the girls’ who consume her, are moderated within a 'tween speech’ genre; and (2) interrogating discourses of risk I argue that the boundaries of Stardoll’s tween culture are governed by understandings of risk within the site and from the girls’ blog The Ugly Side of Stardoll. The third theme is the articulation of tween femininity; I argue that Stardoll produces a neoliberal, postfeminist tween identity on the site. Interestingly, the girls who use Stardoll (re)position other, younger girls within Romantic discourses of childhood in their governance of tween girlhood. However both Stardoll and the girls are invested in similar constructions of tween girlhood based on ‘wholesomeness’ and framed by understandings of age, through complex discourses of postfeminism and Romantic childhood.
  • References (1)

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