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Discourses of Authenticity on YouTube

LCM - La Collana / The Series - ISSN 2283-5628 


Giorgia Riboni

From the Personal to the Professional

ISBN 978-88-7916-931-8 - pp. 148 - 2020

€ 24,00  (-15%) Acquisto il volume € 20,40

This book explores the discourse of authenticity on the popular social media platform YouTube. It investigates how popular users negotiate their identity and discursively portray themselves as authentic in their videos. In so doing, it adds to the development of new perspectives on social media communication and offers an outlook on issues concerning the complexities of contemporary identity practices. Starting from the premise that authenticity is a discursive construction, the study adopts a linguistics-based approach and relies on a hybrid methodological toolkit that draws on the analytical tools provided by Social Media Critical Discourse Studies (SM-CDS), a newly-introduced framework comprised of different but interconnected levels of description. The volume presents three case studies which investigate the discursive and rhetorical strategies used by well-known users in order to come across as authentic. Videos produced by popular content creators belonging to different communities of practice (scientists, stay-at-home mothers, and makeup artists) are explored. The analysis reveals that they share a common set of identity characteristics, a common core of authentic traits famous YouTubers conventionally display to discursively depict themselves as genuine and credible. 

Giorgia Riboni holds a PhD in English Studies and is currently working as a Lecturer at the University of Milan. Her main research interests lie in web-mediated communication. Her research is characterized by a methodological approach based on discourse analysis integrated with quantitative investigation in the tradition of corpus linguistics. Her publications include the volume Nuovi media e discorso politico. I blog nelle elezioni presidenziali americane [New Media and Political Discourse. Blogs in US Presidential Elections] (2014) and the journal article “Representation of Knowledge about Opioids between criminalization and Medicalization” (2020).

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1. Background
1.1. Authenticity and self-branding on social media – 1.2. Authenticity in mediated public discourse: parasocial features, homophily, and the “audience dilemma” – 1.3. YouTubing as a profession – 1.4. Authenticity matters – 1.5. The notion of “emergent authenticity” – References

2. Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis and Communicating Authenticity on YouTube: A Linguistic Perspective  
2.1. Linguistic perspectives on Internet language: the three waves of CMC Studies – 2.2. Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis and Social Media Critical Discourse Studies – 2.3. An ad hoc methodological toolkit: different traditions of text and (Computer-Mediated) Discourse Analysis – 2.4. The data set – 2.4.1. Data set description: the communities of practice chosen for the analysis – 2.4.2. The collection phase: issues and procedures – References

 3. Science YouTubers
3.1. YouTube and the Science Participation Model – 3.2. Aims and outline of the chapter – 3.3. The discursive construction of the “ordinary scientist” – 3.4. The genuine Science lover – 3.5. The emergent authenticity’s facets of Science YouTubers: the scientist influencer and the nerd – References

4. Stay-at-Home Mothers
4.1. Looking for visibility through mommy vlogging: radical or conservative act? – 4.2. Aims and outline of the chapter – 4.3. The professional “mom friend” – 4.4. The “real” mom – 4.5. The mom influencer  – References

5. Makeup Artists
5.1. Makeup and authenticity: two irreconcilable notions? – 5.2. Aims and outline of the chapter – 5.3. The amateurish makeup guru – 5.4. The authenticity of imperfection – 5.5. The “emergent authenticity” of makeup influencers – References