Algorithms, aesthetics and agency: An exploration into the performance of the self amongst young women on TikTok.
This is an exploration into how the self is performed on TikTok. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, TikTok - a social media app at the forefront of youth-culture - burst onto the screens of millions users. On the hilarious, inventive, frustrating and saddening ForYouPage (FYP), short-style videos play one after the other. I will discuss the performance of the self under digital conditions using Goffman’s (1959) foundational work on the presentation of self. I follow Mahmood’s (2005) definition of agency to explain how TikTok affords its users certain freedoms. However, this sense of agency is complicated by strict standards of beauty which are propagated on TikTok via trends and aesthetics and ultimately, made valuable through Likes.
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