In this investigation, I take a multimodal and narrative interactional approach to the study of social media afforded emplotments of women’s lives. I explore how plots are created to biographize mummy vloggers, who share their lives in mummy vlogs, and how these storylines are being taken up, responded to and reworked as they are being carried across time, sites, and participants in the community that gathers around mummy vloggers.
Mummy vlogs are videos uploaded to YouTube and circulated across social media. In them, mummy vloggers perform motherhood through recorded, edited enactments of everyday family life. This life streaming practice (Marwick, 2013a) has gained popularity in social media alongside other forms of gendered creative production that inscribe women into traditional feminine domains of parenting, domesticity, beauty and craft (Hund & Duffy, 2015; Marwick, 2013b).
This study contributes to scholarship that examines the interactional dynamics of storytelling in social media environments (Georgakopoulou 2013, 2014, 2015a, 2015b; 2018; Page 2012, 2015a, 2015b). Specifically, small stories research(Georgakopoulou, 2007) that has begun to document how poly-storying processes emergent in social media bring together segments from across media platforms and offline contexts and can implicate a broad range of tellers and modes of participation (Georgakopoulou, 2015; Page 2012).
I conduct an ethnographically informed extended case study (Mitchell 1984) of how plots are created about the lives of seven English-speaking mummy vloggers. Using the qualitative coding software NVivo, I code 557 mummy vlogs posted by these vloggers, including their titles, thumbnails and description boxes. In addition to this, I combine multimodal and small stories methods for close analysis of interaction (See Georgakopoulou 2007; Ochs & Capps 2002; Goodwin 2015; Jewitt 2015; Page 2010; Shumann 2005) to conduct a fine-grained analysis of selected aspects of how mummy vloggers’ lives are emplotted.
This approach is well suited to provide an insight into the poly-storying practices that serve to mediatize mummy vloggers and provide a certain perspective on experiences and identities of mothers.
Films by Mikka Lene Pers and Arko Hojholt, 2017, prepared as part of the Dear Diary exhibition, curated by Professor Clare Brant and Dr Polly North (click here to learn more).