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MA and PhD theses on cultures of internet celebrity.

Moshimoshi folks,

I have just spent several days poring through a crop of MA and PhD theses by postgraduates around the world who are studying cultures of internet celebrity, microcelebrity, and influencers. I was really excited by this steady stream of pre-published or soon-to-be published works on emergent and cutting-edge practices that have been so swiftly archived and analysed by these early career researchers.

If it is helpful, I list these references and their publicly-available links (mostly Open Access via the authors’ institutional repositories) below. If you have a thesis to add to the list, please feel free to comment. If you are nearly completing a thesis on any aspect of internet celebrity, I would love to hear from you (especially if you focus on cultures outside of the US and UK).

Here is a paragraph summarising this crop of theses, lifted from a forthcoming piece of mine to be published in December 2018 in ‘Abidin, Crystal, and Megan Lindsay Brown (eds). (forthcoming, 2018). Microcelebrity Around the Globe: Approaches to cultures of internet fame. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.’

“Focusing on how commerce and industry are impact microcelebrity-audience relations are Neal’s (2017) thesis on Instagram influencers and sponsorship, Mustonen’s (2017) thesis on YouTubers coming out to fan communities, Sedláček’s (2016) thesis on how YouTubers’ audiences are shifting away from TV practices, and Bruijn’s (2016) thesis on how YouTubers are negotiating a balance between commercialism and authenticity. Considering the cultures of microcelebrity on newer social media platforms are Gkoni et al.’s (2017) thesis on Snapchat and emoji use as ‘fam’ subcultures, Bingham’s (2017) thesis on practices of professionalism among Twitch microcelebrities, Blight’s (2016) thesis on community building across streaming platforms, and van de Put’s (2017) thesis on the process of becoming a celebrity on Finally, looking outside of the Anglo-centric U.S. and Euro-centric U.K. are Bakke’s (2017) thesis on commercial bloggers in Norway, Meng’s (2014) and Wang’s (2017) theses looking at wanghong on Weibo in China, Meylinda’s (2017) thesis looking at beauty vlogs in South Korea, and Limkangvanmongkol’s (2018) thesis looking at beauty bloggers’ practices in Thailand. As newer cohorts of postgraduates and early career researchers delve deeper into the cultural and political complexities of microcelebrity practices in their parts of the world, one can be assured of generations of critical works on cultures of internet celebrity from around the globe.”


Bakke, Mathilde Aarvold. 2017. Celebrity is what celebrity does: A critical discourse analysis of microcelebrity in commercial, Norwegian blogs. Master Thesis, Department of Sociology, University of Oslo.

Bingham, Christopher. 2017. “An ethnography of Twitch streamers: Negotiating professionalism in new media content creation.” Doctor of Philosophy Thesis, Graduate College, University of Oklahoma. /

Blight, Michael G. 2016. “Relationships to video game streamers: Examining gratifications, parasocial relationships, fandom, and community affiliation online.” PhD Thesis, Department of Communication, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Bruijn, Maj de. 2016. “Reconciling authenticity and commerciality? A descriptive study of the relationship of trust between beauty and style vlogger Hello October and her community.” MA thesis new media and digital culture, Faculty of humanities, Utrecht University.

Gkoni Nefeli, Edo Druiventak, Yamila Bollen, and Steven Ecott. 2017. “Snapchat Fams as a Subculture: How Influencers Use Emojis for Commodifying Cross-Platform Engagement.” Masters Thesis, New Media & Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam.

Limkangvanmongkol, Vimviriya. 2018. “When a nobody becomes a somebody: Understanding beauty bloggers in Thailand.” PhD thesis, Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Meng, D. (2014). “Camera girl 2.0: A study of Chinese women’s online visual representation in the age of individualization.” PhD Thesis, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong.

Meylinda, Ririn. 2017. “Celebrification of YouTuber on YouTube Channel: A case study of Han Yoo Ra’s vlogs.” Skripsi Thesis, Universitas Airlangga.

Mustonen, Katri. 2017. “‘So today I want to talk to you guys about something’: Coming out videos and the stance features of YouTube celebrity-fan relationships.” Master’s Thesis, Department of Language and Communication Studies, University of Jyväskylä.

Neal, Morgan. 2017. “Instagram influencers: The effects of sponsorship on follower engagement with fitness Instagram celebrities.” Thesis, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Sedláček, Jakub. 2016. “The rise of YouTube celebrity: The migration of young audiences from TV to independent content creators.” Diplomová práce, Institute of Information Studies and Librarianship, Univerzita Karlova.

van de Put, Hanneke. 2017. “From ordinary teenager to superstar: The construction of a micro-celebrity status using the affordances of social media platforms.” Master Thesis, New Media & Digital Culture, Utrecht University.

Wang, Yuejia. 2017. “‘We are famous on the internet’: A study of the Chinese phenomenon of Wanghong.” Master’s Thesis in Digital Culture, Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies, University of Bergen.

3 replies »

  1. Hi Crystal, it’s wonderful to see so much research emerging on this topic. I am completing the final year of my PhD thesis ‘Aussie Mumpreneurs: digital influencers for social change.’ I’m based at Swinburne University in Melbourne and my supervisor is Esther Milne.

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