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Key Ideas & Concepts

figure 4.4

This page lists some of the key ideas and concepts I have developed in my body of research.
For copies of paywalled papers, please email.


Influencer: “everyday, ordinary internet users who accumulate a relatively large following on blogs and social media through the textual and visual narration of their personal lives and lifestyles, engage with their following in digital and physical spaces, and monetise their following by intergrating ‘advertorials’ into their blog or social media posts.” Read (2015)>> / “a contemporary incarnation of internet celebrity for whom microcelebrity is not merely a hobby or a supplementary income but an established career with its own ecology and economy.” Read (2017)>>

Internet celebrity: “all media formats… that attain prominence and popularity native to the internet… mainly known for their high visibility, whether this be attributed to fame or infamy, positive or negative attention, talent or skill or otherwise, and whether it be sustained or transient, intentional or happenstance, monetized or not… must be received, watched, and acknowledged by an audience… [depends] on the platforms they use and the cultural ideologies and tastes of their intended audience.” Read (2018)>>Read (2018)>>

Advertorials: “pastiche of ‘advertisement’ and ‘editorial’… highly personalised, opinion-laden promotions of products/services that influencers personally experience and endorse for a fee.” Read (2015)>> / & OOTDs>> / & selfies>> / & babies>>

Agentic cuteness: “a pastiche of cute femininities typified by a coherence of infantilization, self-diminuition and submission, in order to solicit favour and affect from heterosexual male partners and homosocial female followers through sensuality, romantic docility and middle-class desirability… an explicitly feminine strategy… to reinforce stereotypical power relations that position them as non-threatening and submissive, when they are in fact quietly subverting these hierarchies as a form of soft power.” Read (2016)>>

Anchor content/Filler content: “Anchor material is the primary content for which these Influencers are known. Such performances appear to be produced with more care and effort, utilizing higher end equipment such as moving image recorders, audio mixers, lighting, and props, and are uploaded on a regular schedule a few times a fortnight. Some genres of this output include instrumental and singing covers, comedic skits, and cooking and craft tutorials. Filler material is the secondary content for which these Influencers are known and complement the mainstay of their output by giving followers a highly contextualized snapshot of their everyday lives. Such performances are intentionally framed to convey the aesthetic of an amateur, such that the production comes across as being raw, unfiltered, spontaneous, and more intimate.” Read (2017)>>

Blogshops: “a prelude to online shopping websites wherein blogposts doubled up as advertisement spaces for owners to hawk personal and new items.” Read (2018)>> / “online sites in which young women model and sell apparel via social media… [that] trades on commercial intimacies cultivated by blogshop models and the involvement of blogshop consumers… [where] the micro-mediated (co-)creation of value rests on persona intimacy.” Read (2016)>> / Read (2013)>> / Read (2012)>>

Calibrated amateurism: “a practice and aesthetic in which actors in an attention economy labor specifically over crafting contrived authenticity that portrays the raw aesthetic of an amateur, whether or not they really are amateurs by status or practice, by relying on the performance ecology of appropriate platforms, affordances, tools, cultural vernacular, and social capital.” Read (2017)>> / Read (2017)>>

Eyewitness virality: “The proliferation of television news interviewees, many of whom are themselves victims of the unfortunate event being covered, who attain overnight but transient fame through the news networks who curate and disseminate their eyewitness accounts on social media as humour and clickbait.” Read (2018)>> / Read (2016)>>

Follow-backs: “a practice in which Influencers mutually follow a highly select group of followers, thus according them prestige.” Read (2016)>>

Going dark: “industry lingo for when an Influencer actively chooses to refrain from any public activity on social media: this is especially likely to occur at the height of a controversy. While this silence may seem natural or trivial to the everyday internet user, in the realm of social media Influencers, who post updates several times a day across various platforms, and whose livelihoods depend on actively engaging with followers, this decision is highly unusual. It introduces risks in relation to maintaining one’s reputation and is experienced as a compounded and exaggerated absence by Influencers and followers.” Read (2019)>>

Instagram pods & Twitter decks: “informal networks to amplify each others’ content within secret circuits… [where] small groups of 10 to 20 Influencers pool their follower networks and potential exposure by mutually amplifying each others’ content, either through narratively promoting others in their clan or by systematically liking, retweeting, or commenting on posts by Influencers in their clan, such that their own followers may also see them. Although Influencer pods and decks are not technically in violation of any platform guidelines, ethically they disrupt the supposedly sacred rule of organically attaining viewer traffic for Influencer content. It is also difficult for such groups to be traced or exposed, given that it requires a keen eye across several Influencers’ digital estates and active corroboration of content, time stamps, and networks to ascertain that a pod or deck is truly at work.” Read (2018)>> / Read (2018)>>

Mass meetups: “impromptu gatherings in which masses of [blogshop] customers could collect their goods at physical locations as opposed to awaiting their packages by post.” Read (2018)>>

Minority celebrity: “[status and condition of] fame and recognition is founded on commodifying and representing a usually marginalised and stigmatised demographic of society, built upon the validation and celebration of minoritarian values, with the political agenda of making public and critiquing the systemic and personal challenges experienced by the minority group in everyday life.” Read (2019)>>

Perceived interconnectedness & Communicative intimacies (updated parasocial relations for digital age): “model of communication between influencers and followers… co-constructed by influencers and followers… in which influencers interact with followers to give the impression of intimacy… [as] commercial, interactive, reciprocal, disclosive”, “enacted and experienced by [followers] as a result of having followed [Influencers] closely over a long period, and having received continuous bite-sized updates about their daily affairs”, mediated via social media platforms. Read (2015)>> / Read (2013)>>

Porous authenticity: Strategic self-presentation practice on digital spaces in which users are “continuously alluding to their more secret, more genuine, more real ‘real lives'”, often enacted by Influencers who “aim to create a backstage region in which they can invite followers to assess how genuine they really are… [where] an audience is enticed into trying to evaluate and validate how genuine a persona is by following the feedback loop across the front stage of social media and the backstage of ‘real life’, through inconspicuous and scattered holes or gateways that were intentionally left as trails for the curious.” Read (2018)>>

Relatability (framework): Framework of digital self-presentation comprising “accessibility (how easy it is to approach an influencer in digital and physical spaces), believability (how convincing an influencerʼs depicted lifestyle and sentiments are), authenticity (how genuine an influencerʼs actual lifestyle and sentiments are), emulatability (how easy followers can model themselves after an influencerʼs lifestyle), and intimacy (how familiar and close followers feel to an influencer).” Read (2017)>> / Read (2015)>>

Shout-outs: “an ‘amplified reference’ (Zappavigna, 2012: 35) practice in which Influencers mention select follower handles on their Instagram post according to their visibility.” Read (2016)>>

Spectrums of conspicuousness: “the visual culmination of one’s public persona as a result of conscientiously mobilising and performing selective aspects of one’s identity inscriptions… a research strategy [that] enables researchers to present ourselves genuinely, while selectively dialing up or down facets of our identity that could facilitate or parlay our entry into the field, and lubricate our interactions with informants.” Framework of researcher positionalities: Esteemed guest, Exotic inbetweener, Willing apprentice, Trophy acquaintance, Concealed consultant, Passing confidante. Read (2020)>>

Subversive frivolity: “the under-visibilized and under-estimated generative power of an object or practice arising from its (populist) discursive framing as marginal, inconsequential, and unproductive.” Read (2016)>>

Tacit labour: “a collective practice of work that is understated and under-visibilized from being so thoroughly rehearsed that it appears as effortless and subconscious.” Read (2016)>>

Visibility labour: “the work enacted to flexibly demonstrate gradients of self-conspicuousness in digital or physical spaces depending on intention or circumstance for favourable ends… Visibility labour is the work individuals do when they self-posture and curate their self-presentations so as to be noticeable and positively prominent among [various audiences]… Unlike studies on algorithmic visibility (Bucher, 2012: 1164), visibility labour is concerned with analogue affective labour ordinary users perform to be noticed by [their intended audiences]” Read (2016)>>

& Aesthetic: Grotesque>> / Shamelebrity>> / Slow living>>

& Beauty/Gender: Bereavement tutorials>> / Cyber-femininities>>Feminine corporeality>> / Vocabulary>>

& Brand credibility: Audience intimacy>> / Brand scandal>>Dilemmas>>

& Children: See below.

& Methodology: Digital ethnography theories>> / Mapping industry>>Online/Offline>> / Origin stories>> / Researcher positionality>>Researcher visibility>>

& Queer/LGBT/Sexuality education: See below.

& Romance/Coupling: See below.

& Strategy: Internet drama>>Shadow economies>> / Shadow economies>> / Weaponizing>>

& WelfareCyber-bullying>> / Privacy>> / Stresses>>

+ Blogs: Cyberbullying>>Entrepreneurial selves>> / Expectations & tensions>> / Net idols>> / Sexuality education>> / Social currency>> / Value (co-)creation>>

+ Facebook: Digital grief etiquette>> / Student Problems>> / Student Problems>> / Student Problems>>

+ Tumblr: Commerce>>

+ Twitter: NDP2016>>RIPSRNathan>>

+ Instagram: Authenticity & Identity>> / Authenticity & Reappropriation>>Brussels>> / CharlieHedbo>>Commercial selfies>> / East Asian cute>> / Essena O’Neill & Authenticity>> / Essena O’Neill & Media panics>> / Fashion & OOTDs>> / Finstagram>> / Framework & Theorization>> / Instaglam>> / Instagram down>> / Instagram purge>> / JakartaBlasts>> / JeSuisAhmed>> / Lee Kuan Yew>>Monthsary>> / Politician selfies>> / PorteOuverte>> / SanBernardino>> / Thoughts&Prayers>>

+ TikTok/Douyin/ Teen aspirations>>

+ YouTube: Exploiting children>> / Eyewitness virality>> / Family Influencers>> / Gay>> / Grotesque>> / Home living>> / Lonelygirl15 & Persona>> / Munahhirziofficial & Parody>> / PewDiePie & Weaponizing>> / Preetipls+Subhas & Brownface>>Troye Sivan & Sexual citizenship>> / Viral children>>

+9GAG: LoveWins>>


Exploitation: Read (2017)>>

Family influencers: Read (2017)>>

Media flows: Read (2018)>>

Micro-microcelebrity: “Babies and toddlers… [who] rise to fame by inheriting exposure and proximate microcelebrification from their social media Influencer mothers… [they] inherit celebrity through the preemptive and continuous exposure from their Influencer mothers, many beginning even during the pre-birth pregnancy stages in the form of ultrasound scans.” Read (2017)>> / Read (2015)>>

Si Geena/Brats: Read (2020)>>


Agentic cuteness: “a pastiche of cute femininities typified by a coherence of infantilization, self-diminuition and submission, in order to solicit favour and affect from heterosexual male partners and homosocial female followers through sensuality, romantic docility and middle-class desirability… an explicitly feminine strategy… to reinforce stereotypical power relations that position them as non-threatening and submissive, when they are in fact quietly subverting these hierarchies as a form of soft power.” Read (2016)>>

Coupling & legitimacy: Read (2016)>>

Monthsary: “monthly commemorations of the date on which a couple first got together… most commonly practiced by couples marking small milestones of their dating relationship…”, a practice which reflects “mini-milestones for relationships in their very early stages”, “cynical brevity under the insinuation that young coupling is precarious due to a lack of loyalty and commitment”, “commitment affirmation [to acknowledge the] cumulative achievement in sustaining the couple as a unit”, “exceptional gifting [which] has to be exceptional and more commemorative than the routine and mundane gifting in the daily repertoire of a courtship”, “gendered expectancy” disproportionately haboured by women usually in heterosexual relationships”, “celebratory access [where] the scale of commemoration practices exceeds the actual event being memorialized.” Read (2016)>>

Queer-baiting: Read (2019)>>

Queer influencers: “…queer Influencers hyper-visibilise and perform the milestone of the coming out vlog in order to accumulate social capital among their followers through self-disclosure, cultural capital among the network of queer Influencers through collective branding, and economic capital with potential clients and sponsors through an expansion of their marketable personae.” Read (2019)>>

Queer microcelebrity publics: “emergence of a queer microcelebrity publics through which Influencers have to calibrate their personal queer identities, their microcelebrity portfolios, their obligations to clients and sponsors, and their sense of responsibility to their large viewership of (potentially queer) young people. Queer microcelebrity publics have grown convoluted and increasingly tangled with commerce…” Read (2019)>> / “While coming out is not a singular act but one that is constituted in the persistent need for public repetition, the coming out of the Influencer is one which does a different kind of further labour: the Influencer takes on new public responsibilities as an out queer subject, typically through a more public discourse of one’s personal, private and domestic gendered and sexual life as a form of discursive activism, while simultaneously taking on queer-celebratory or queer-targeted brand sponsorship work, promoting mental, social, physical and sexual health and support seeking.” Read (2019)>>

Queer microcelebrity publics (framework): “central core of their early online identities and personae, focused on the collective community experiences of ‘Knowing & Coming out’, and ‘Struggling & Transitioning’”; “This core is flanked by two Influencer practices: Firstly, the ‘Homonormative coupling narratives’ that they display constitute the Influencer trope of sharing ‘Coupling & Uncoupling’ narratives that continue to interest loyal followers; and secondly, the ‘Mainstreaming homosocial tactility’ that they play with constitute a potential longtail of ‘Speculations & Collaborations’ that bait followers into imagining both homoerotic and inter-brand collaborations”; “Once these three elements are in place, such streams of content are then able to support queer and gay Influencers’ participation in the economy of ‘Advertorials & Ambassadorships’.” Read (2019)>>

Sex bait: Read (2017)>>

Sexual citizenship: Read (2019)>>

Sexuality education: Read (2016)>>

Young coupling: “the experiences of young people’s partnering practices in their teenage years and/or their initial experience of early partnering regardless of the age of first coupling, in which young couples do not yet have any formal status, are unable to experience domestic living together, and have limited opportunities to be alone and intimate.” Read (2016)>>


Elderly Influencers (Japan & South Korea): Read (2018)>>

Framing: Read (2018)>>

K-pop fandoms: Read (2019)>>

Meitu Xiuxiu: Read (2017)>>

Meme factories: “… a coordinated network of creators or accounts who produce and host content that can be encoded with (sub)text and parsed into new contexts across multiple organizational structures. Meme factories often use strategic calculation to obtain virality or activate a call to arms to seed decision-swinging discourses, and at times with the potential to commercialize their meme contents for sponsors.” Read (2020)>>

Minahs (Singapore): “a Malay subculture, considered to be low brown, and consisting of feminine uncouthness… young Malay women in the working class who are deemed to be low brown and uncouth in their femininity.” Read (2019)>>

Net idols (Thailand): Read (2018)>>

OccupyCentral (Hong Kong): Read (2014)>> / Read (2014)>> / Read (2014)>>

Pen Pineapple Apple Pen: Read (2016)>>

Public shaming (Singapore): Read (2017)>>

Si Geena/Brat (Singapore): “un-social digital juvenile provocateurs baiting moral outrage and public indignation.” Read (2020)>>


Memes: Eyewitness virality>> / Meitu Xiuxiu>> / Meme factories>> / OccupyCentral>> / OccupyCentral>>OccupyCentral>>PPAP>> / Student Problems>> / Student Problems>> / Student Problems>> / Trump>>

Emoji: Epistemology>>Framework>>

Selfies: Framework>> / Influencers>> / Monetization>>>>Politicians>>


Bereavement beauty tutorials: Read (2018)>>

Digital grief etiquette: Read (2018)>>

Grief hypejacking: “the bandwagoning on high-visibility hashtags of public tributes where users wrestle to misappropriate highly public channels of collective grief for self-publicity.” Read (2018)>> / Read (2016)>>

Public grieving: “[practice] in which users sincerely partake in a global expression, narrative, and dialogue of a grief event through the use of high-visibility trending hashtags or by partaking in highly visible networks of grief.” Read (2018)>>

Publicity grieving: “[practice] in which users opportunistically harness the attention currency of high-visibility trending hashtags or public tributes to promote their (self-)brand or wares.” Read (2018)>>

#Brussels/#Bruxelles: Read (2016)>>

Chapel Hill Shooting: Read (2015)>>

#CharlieHedbo: Read (2015)>>

#JakartaBlasts: Read (2016)>>

#JeSuisAhmed: Read (2015)

Lee Kuan Yew: Read (2015)>>

#PorteOuverte: Read (2015)>>

#RIPSRNathan: Read (2016)>>

#SanBernardino: Read (2015)>>


East Asians in Australia: Read (2017)>>

Joseph Schooling’s national roots: Read (2016)>> / Read (2016)>>

Malay-Chinese in Singapore: Read (2014)>>

This page was last updated on 16 July 2020.