Skip to content

Social Media Influencers as Conduits of Knowledge in Australia and Asia

The project

This project is an individual grant hosted at Curtin University, and is funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) (Australia), 2019–2023 (DE190100789). It is also supplemented and extended with support and funding by Curtin University, 2019–2025. Ethics Office approval number HRE2019-0806.

The project aims to evaluate how social media Influencers can become conduits to communicate information among young people between Australia and East Asia. As icons on the internet who are experts in holding attention and amplifying content, Influencers have expanded from being mere commercial enterprises to being conduits of public service information by reaching wide, diverse, and sometimes marginalized youth audiences with important socio-cultural messages. This study will glean lessons from leading Influencer ecologies in East Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan), to understand how we can use internet-native communication formats to improve inter-cultural knowledge and relations in Australia. In light of COVID-19 contingencies and changing opportunities for research, the digital components of fieldwork have expanded to include the larger Asia Pacific region. 

This study will offer a framework for examining the Influencer industry in Australia based on expert economies in East Asia. Its analysis of young people’s internet cultures will generate new knowledge on how information circulates and is received in innovative communication formats between young Australians and young East Asians. It informs how young people in Australia can improve their inter-cultural communication skills, how community groups can improve inter-cultural integration, and how businesses and policy makers can partner with Influencers to amplify information. Project outputs from 2019 are categorized into five streams below.

(1) Conduits of knowledge & cultures

(2) Social justice, antagonisms, and cancel culture

(3) Regulation, governance, and best practice

(4) COVID-19 and the Influencer industry

(5) Family influencers, child influencers, and viral kids online

(6) K-pop fandoms, social media strategy, and activism

(7) TikTok and short video app cultures 

Ongoing research

  • [updates in progress]
  • A review of the history of Influencers in Australia, Australian media representations of Influencers, and the impact of social media Influencers on print media.
  • A survey of the culture of Influencer agencies in East Asia, practices of Influencer communications in the Asia Pacific, and the role of East Asian Influencers in building community among East Asian migrants in Australia.
  • A study of inter-cultural communication between East Asians and Australians, working towards a theory of Asia Pacific Influencers, inter-cultural learning, and the generation of attention on the internet.
  • Book on East Asian YouTubers:
    –Slow living at home as a lifestyle
    –Morning/night routines and domestic temporalities
    –Home cafes and ASMR aesthetics
    –Minimalism and consumption-based mindfulness
    –Homemaking and the commodification of coupledom
    –Zakka and performances of taste curation
    –Rurality and telescopic exoticism
    –COVID-19 and repackaging trendability
    –Intercultural language learning and humour
    –Home remaking and youth anomie
    –Elderly influencers and geriatric cuteness
    –Childrearing on cam and broadcast ethos

Further information

Curtin University press release here.
Curtin University profile here.
Academic publications here.
Press mentions here.
Industry work here.

This page is in progress. // This page was last updated on 26 October 2022.