The Selfie as Image (and) Practice: Approaching Digital Self-Photography

  • Julia Eckel
  • Jens Ruchatz
  • Sabine Wirth
Chapter

Abstract

Despite the prevalence of the word “selfie” and the ubiquitous presence of selfie pictures in digital media, it is difficult to pinpoint what a selfie actually is and what the practice of taking and sharing selfies tells us about today’s media use and media culture. This chapter therefore does not try to give a stable definition of what a selfie is or should be but traces the different approaches and stances toward digital self-photography that have been developed and discussed in academic and public discourse since the turn of the millennium. The authors conclude that selfie research is shaped by two sometimes conflicting but often complementary approaches of focusing on the selfie as an image (i.e., the technological and aesthetic dimensions of the selfie) and focusing on the practices selfies emanate from (i.e., the communicative and social dimensions of the selfie). Thus, the chapter introduces the aim of the whole volume, which is to provide a theoretical as well as a media-historical framework for investigating the selfie as an image practice—understood literally as image and practice at the same time—and to develop a more specific theoretical and analytic terminology.

Bibliography

  1. Abidin, Crystal. 2016. Aren’t These Just Young, Rich Women Doing Vain Things Online? Influencer Selfies as Subversive Frivolity. Social Media+Society 2 (2): 1–17.Google Scholar
  2. Albury, Kath. 2015. Selfies, Sexts and Sneaky Hats: Young People’s Understanding of Gendered Practices of Self-Representation. International Journal of Communication 9: 1734–1745. http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/3132/1396.Google Scholar
  3. von Amelunxen, Hurbertus, Stefan Iglhaut, and Florian Rötzer, eds. 1996. Photography after Photography. Memory and Represenstaion in the Digital Age. München: G+B.Google Scholar
  4. Barakat, Christie. 2014. Science Links Selfies to Narcissism, Addiction, and Low Self Esteem. Adweek.com, April 16. Accessed August 27, 2016. http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/selfies-narcissism-addiction-low-self-esteem/147769
  5. Barry, Christopher T., Hannah Doucette, Della C. Loflin, Nicole Rivera-Hudson, and Lacey L. Herrington. 2017. ‘Let Me Take a Selfie’: Associations Between Self-Photography, Narcissism, and Self-Esteem. Psychology of Popular Media Culture 6 (1): 48–60. https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000089.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bellinger, Matthew. 2015. Bae Caught Me Tweetin’: On the Representational Stance of the Selfie. International Journal of Communication 9: 1806–1817. http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/3135/1401.
  7. Bieber, Alain, ed. 2015. Ego Update: The Future of Digital Identity. Düsseldorf: NRW-Forum.Google Scholar
  8. Boon, Sonja, and Beth Pentney. 2015. Virtual Lactivism: Breastfeeding Selfies and the Performance of Motherhood. International Journal of Communication 9: 1759–1774. http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/3136/1398.Google Scholar
  9. Borba, Michele. 2016. UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. New York, NY: Touchstone.Google Scholar
  10. Burns, Anne. 2015. Self(ie)-Discipline: Social Regulation as Enacted Through the Discussion of Photographic Practice. International Journal of Communication 9: 1716–1733. http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/3138/1395.Google Scholar
  11. Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas. 2014. Sharing the (Self) Love: The Rise of the Selfie and Digital Narcissism. Theguardian.com, March 13. Accessed August 30, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/mar/13/selfie-social-media-love-digital-narcassism
  12. Charteris, Jennifer, Sue Gregory, and Yvonne Masters. 2014. Snapchat ‘Selfies’: The Case of Disappearing Data. In Rhetoric and Reality: Critical Perspectives on Educational Technology. Proceedings ASCILITE Dunedin 2014, ed. Bronwyn Hegarty, Jenny McDonald, and Swee-Kin Loke, 389–393. Dunedin.: http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/dunedin2014/files/concisepapers/47-Charteris.pdf
  13. Coladonato, Valerio. 2014. Power, Gender, and the Selfie. The Cases of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Pope Francis. Comunicazioni Sociali 3: 394–405.Google Scholar
  14. Di Foggia, Giacomo. 2015. About the Anti-Figurativeness of #Selfie. (Location of #Selfie). Networking Knowledge 8 (6), Special Issue: Be Your Selfie; November 2015. http://ojs.meccsa.org.uk/index.php/netknow/article/view/400
  15. Dinhopl, Anja, and Ulrike Gretzel. 2016. Selfie-Taking as Touristic Looking. Annals of Tourism Research 57: 126–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Droitcour, Brian. 2013. A Selfie Is Not a Portrait. Culturetwo.wordpress.com, October 24. Accessed August 30, 2016. https://culturetwo.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/a-selfie-is-not-a-portrait
  17. Duguay, Stefanie. 2016. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer Visibility through Selfies. Comparing Platform Mediators Across Ruby Roses Instagram and Vine Presence. Social Media+Society 2 (2): 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305116641975.Google Scholar
  18. Ellis, Charlie. 2014a. Cat Selfies. Chichester: Summersdale.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 2014b. Dog Selfies. Chichester: Summersdale.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 2016. Animal Selfies. Chichester: Summersdale.Google Scholar
  21. Frosh, Paul. 2015. The Gestural Image: The Selfie, Photography Theory, and Kinaesthetic Sociability. International Journal of Communication 9: 1607–1628. http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/3146/1388.Google Scholar
  22. Gómez Cruz, Edgar, and Helen Thornham. 2015. Selfies Beyond Self-Representation: The (Theoretical) F(r)ictions of a Practice. Journal of Aesthetics & Culture 7 (1): 1–10. https://doi.org/10.3402/jac.v7.28073.Google Scholar
  23. Gunthert, André. 2014. The Conversational Image. New Uses for Digital Photography. Études Photographiques 31. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://etudesphotographiques.revues.org/3546
  24. Halpern, Daniel, Sebastián Valenzuela, and James E. Katz. 2016. ‘Selfie-ists’ or ‘Narci-selfiers’?: A Cross-Lagged Panel Analysis of Selfie Taking and Narcissism. Personality and Individual Differences 97: 98–101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.03.019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hampton, Claire. 2015. #nomakeupselfies. The Face of Hashtag Slacktivism. Networking Knowledge 8 (6): 1–14. http://ojs.meccsa.org.uk/index.php/netknow/article/view/406.Google Scholar
  26. Huhtamo, Erkki, and Jussi Parikka, eds. 2011. Media Archaeology. Approaches, Applications, and Implications. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  27. Judge, Jenny. 2014. A Rembrandt’s Lessons for the Selfie Era: Why We Must Learn to Look Again. Theguardian.com, October 16. Accessed September 16, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/16/rembrandt-selfie-era-self-portrait
  28. Kamps, Haje Jan. 2013. Shooting Yourself. Self-Portrait Photography with Attitude. Cincinatti: How Books.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 2014. Selfies. Self-Portrait Photography with Attitude. Cincinatti: How Books.Google Scholar
  30. Kardashian West, Kim. 2015. Selfish. New York, NY: Universe/Rizzoli.Google Scholar
  31. Lasén, Amparo. 2005. Understanding Mobile Phone Users and Usage. Edited by Phil Gosset. Newsbury: Vodafone Group R&D. (Wireless Studies 4). http://eprints.ucm.es/6477/1/WFS4_UnderstandingMobilePhoneUsersAndUsage.pdf
  32. ———. 2015. Digital Self-Portraits, Exposure and the Modulation of Intimacy. In Mobile and Digital Communication: Approaches to Public and Private, ed. José Ricardo Carvalheiro and Ana Serrano Tellería, 61–78. Covilhã: LabCom. http://www.labcom-ifp.ubi.pt/ficheiros/20150707-2015_12_public_private.pdf.Google Scholar
  33. Lasén, Amparo, and Antonio García. 2015. ‘But I Haven’t Got a Body to Show’: Self-Pornification and Male Mixed Feeling in Digitally Mediated Seduction Practices. Sexualities 18 (5/6): 714–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lasén, Amparo, and Edgar Gómez-Cruz. 2009. Digital Photography and Picture Sharing: Redefining the Public/Private Divide. Knowledge, Technology & Policy 22 (3): 205–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lüders, Marika, Lin Prøitz, and Terje Rasmussen. 2010. Emerging Personal Media Genres. New Media & Society 12 (6): 947–963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Malcore, Paul. 2015. Selfie Obsession: The Rise of Social Media Narcissism. Rawhide.org, December 29. Accessed August 30, 2016. http://www.rawhide.org/blog/infographics/selfie-obsession-the-rise-of-social-media-narcissism
  37. Meese, James, Martin Gibbs, Marcus Carter, Michael Arnold, Bjorn Nansen, and Tamara Kohn. 2015. Selfies at Funerals: Mourning and Presencing on Social Media Platforms. International Journal of Communication 9: 1647–1659. http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/3154/1402.Google Scholar
  38. Miltner, Kate M., and Nancy K. Baym. 2015. The Selfie of the Year of the Selfie. International Journal of Communication 9: 1701–1715. http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/3244/1394.Google Scholar
  39. Mitchell, William J. 1994. The Reconfigured Eye. Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  40. Nemer, David, and Guo Freeman. 2015. Empowering the Marginalized: Rethinking Selfies in the Slums of Brazil. International Journal of Communication 9: 1832–1847. http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/3155/1403.Google Scholar
  41. Oxford Dictionaries. 2013. The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 Selfie. (Press Releases—Word of the Year), November 19. Accessed August 30, 2016. http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/press-releases/oxford-dictionaries-word-of-the-year-2013
  42. Oxford English Dictionary. 2014. Selfie. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/390063?redirectedFrom=selfie#eid
  43. Oxford Living Dictionaries. n.d. Selfie. Accessed September 16, 2016. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/selfie
  44. Phillips Badal, Kelly. 2016. This Cat Rules at Taking Selfies. They’re Better Than Yours. Yahoo! News, January 25. Accessed April 2, 2017. https://www.yahoo.com/news/this-cat-rules-at-taking-1349005184524342.html
  45. Prøitz, Lin. 2007. Mobile Media and Genres of the Self. In Ambivalence Towards Convergence. Digitalisation and Media Change, ed. Tanja Storsul and Dagny Stuedahl, 199–216. Göteborg: Nordicom.Google Scholar
  46. Rettberg, Jill Walker. 2014. Seeing Ourselves through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ringrose, Jessica, and Laura Harvey. 2015. Boobs, Back-Off, Six Packs and Bits: Mediated Body Parts, Gendered Reward, and Sexual Shame in Teens’ Sexting Images. Continuum 29 (2): 205–217. https://doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2015.1022952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rocamora, Agnès. 2011. Personal Fashion Blogs: Screens and Mirrors in Digital Self-Portraits. Fashion Theory 15 (4): 407–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rubinstein, Daniel. 2015. Gift of the Selfie. In Ego Update: The Future of Digital Identity, ed. Alain Bieber, 163–175. Düsseldorf: NRW-Forum.Google Scholar
  50. Ruchatz, Jens. 2016. Fotografien des Fotografierens. Von einem ungesehenen Selfie. Rundbrief Fotografie 23 (1): 4–7.Google Scholar
  51. Saltz, Jerry. 2014. Art at Arm’s Length. A History of the Selfie. Vulture.com, January 26. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://www.vulture.com/2014/01/history-of-the-selfie.html
  52. Schroeder, Jonathan. 2013. Snapshot Aesthetics and the Strategic Imagination. Journal of Visible Culture 18. http://ivc.lib.rochester.edu/snapshot-aesthetics-and-the-strategic-imagination.
  53. Schwarz, Ori. 2010. On Friendship, Boobs and the Logic of the Catalogue. Online Self-Portraits as a Means for the Exchange of Capital. Convergence 16 (2): 163–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Seidman, Gwendolyn. 2015. What Is the Real Link Between Selfies and Narcissism? Psychology Today, August 6. Accessed August 30, 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/close-encounters/201508/what-is-the-real-link-between-selfies-and-narcissism
  55. Senft, Theresa M. 2015. The Skin of the Selfie. In Ego Update: The Future of Digital Identity, ed. Alain Bieber, 134–161. Düsseldorf: NRW-Forum.Google Scholar
  56. Senft, Theresa M., and Nancy K. Baym. 2015. What Does the Selfie Say: Investigating a Global Phenomenon. International Journal of Communication 9: 1588–1606. http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/4067/1387.Google Scholar
  57. Shields, Karen. 2015. Selfie: Dealing with Today’s Narcissistic Woman. Protect Your Emotions and Manhood. Kindle ed. Seattle, WA: Amazon Digital Services LLC.Google Scholar
  58. Sorokowski, Piotr, Agnieszka Sorokoswki, Ania Oleszkiewicz, Tomasz Frackowiak, Anna Maria Huk, and Katarzyna Pisanskia. 2016. Selfie Posting Behaviors are Associated with Narcissism Among Men. Personality and Individual Differences 85: 123–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Steinmetz, Katy. 2012. Top 10 Everything of 2012. Top 10 Buzzwords. 9. Selfie. Time.com, December 4. http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/12/04/top-10-news-lists/slide/selfie
  60. Tifentale, Alise. 2015. Making Sense of the Selfie: Digital Image-Making and Image-Sharing in Social Media. Scriptus Manet 1: 47–59.Google Scholar
  61. ———. 2016. The Networked Camera at Work: Why Every Self-Portrait Is Not a Selfie, but Every Selfie Is a Photograph. In Riga Photography Biennial 2016, ed. Santa Mičule, 74–83. Riga: Riga Photography Biennial.Google Scholar
  62. Tiidenberg, Katrin, and Edgar Gómez Cruz. 2015. Selfies, Image and the Re-Making of the Body. Body & Society 21 (4): 77–102. https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034X15592465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Trompka, Hansi. 2014. Hunde Selfies. # styler. München: Riva.Google Scholar
  64. Villi, Mikko. 2015a. ‘Hey, I’m Here Right Now’. Camera Phone Photographs and Mediated Presence. Photographies 8 (1): 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. ———. 2015b. The Selfie Connects. The Smart View. Reflections on Mobile Photography 1: 30–31.Google Scholar
  66. Wagner, Eric T. 2015. Selfie Society: Narcissism and the Celebration of Mediocrity. Montreal: Pressbooks.Google Scholar
  67. Walker, Jill. 2005. Mirrors and Shadows: The Digital Aestheticisation of Onself. In The Proceedings of Digital Arts and Culture, 185–190. Copenhagen: IT University of Copenhagen. https://bora.uib.no/handle/1956/1136.Google Scholar
  68. Wendt, Brooke. 2014. The Allure of the Selfie—Instagram and the New Self-Portrait. (=Network Notebooks #08). Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.Google Scholar
  69. Wright, Ellen. 2015. Watch the Birdie: The Star Economy, Social Media and the Celebrity Group Selfie. Networking Knowledge 8 (6). http://ojs.meccsa.org.uk/index.php/netknow/article/view/403.
  70. Zimmer, Ben. 2013. No, a Drunken Australian Man Did Not Coin the Word Selfie. Lex•i•con Valley, January 22. Accessed April 2, 2017. http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2013/11/22/selfie_etymology_an_australian_man_takes_a_photo_of_his_lip_after_falling.html

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Eckel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jens Ruchatz
    • 1
  • Sabine Wirth
    • 1
  1. 1.Philipps-University MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Ruhr-University BochumBochumGermany

Personalised recommendations