Remember, abstracts for BlogTalk Downunder are due on Monday 31 Jan. This is mine, fingers crossed…
Blogging Technologies and the Social Construction of Genre
The web is rife with over-generalised and underexamined discursive constructions of particular blogging platforms, blogging genres, and their users: we are led to believe that LiveJournal users are all teenage girls who pour out their angst onto the screen; Movable Type is for academics and geeks; and so on. But how do these links between particular technologies, the social positioning of users, and textual genres actually work in specific contexts, and what are their broader implications?
This paper seeks to contribute to a critical taxonomy of blogging by exploring the emergent socio-technical construction of blogging genres. The process through which genres emerge is understood as a complex articulation of three sets of phenomena: firstly, the technological affordances and constraints of specific blogging platforms; secondly, the ways in which the discourses around these platforms call specific user communities into being and invite specific forms of literacy, textuality and sociality; and thirdly, the agency of bloggers in shaping these communities. The paper reworks Du Gay et al?s ?circuit of culture? model of cultural studies analysis to compare two of the most distinctive blogging platforms: Movable Type and Live Journal. The analysis demonstrates that there is a complex and recursive relationship between technology, constructions of genre, and the social positioning of users, in each case producing a specific set of social meanings imbricated with clearly identifiable class, age, and gender characteristics. The paper concludes by speculating on the ways in which this approach to the emergence of blogging genres might provide the basis for further interventions in debates around the perceived value of particular kinds of blogs and the unequal distribution of power that is connected to such value judgements.