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'I Show Off, Therefore I Am': The Politics of the Selfie

Abstract : Named word of the year by the OED in 2013, the “selfie” is a worldwide phenomenon. Many see these digital self-portraits as markers for the spread of narcissism or signs of the blurring of limits between the public and private spheres. Initially popular with young people, selfies were soon adopted by politicians who, in a mediatized society, are eager to adhere to new vogues and use digital trends to self-promote. Like “digital natives”, they attempt to go viral by turning their cellphones on themselves and tweeting. Contrary to more formal images (official portraits, campaign posters) where politicians are clearly packaged and marketed, self-snapped photos taken on casual occasions appear impromptu, thus more authentic. Yet despite this veneer of authenticity and spontaneity, selfies are all about control and betray a calculated effort at careful image-making. This paper analyzes the growing use of selfies in politics and compares them with more traditional forms of political portraiture to assess their impact on participation. It demonstrates that selfies derive from traditional political portraiture and that politicians are not primarily interested in participation when using social media and “selfie-ing”. They rather seek maximum visibility and empowerment for themselves and obey their own logics of self-promotion.
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Contributor : Christelle SEREE-CHAUSSINAND Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - 5:42:38 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 4, 2019 - 12:05:29 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01355617, version 1



Christelle Seree-Chaussinand. 'I Show Off, Therefore I Am': The Politics of the Selfie. Alex Frame, Gilles Brachotte. Citizen Participation and Political Communication in a Digital World, Routledge, pp.95-106, 2016, 978-1-138-93503-7. ⟨halshs-01355617⟩



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