I presented some of my ongoing research in July at the Celebrity Studies Conference in Amsterdam.
Lifestyle blogging has become an established part of the Malaysian internet, and these ‘microcelebrities’ (Senft 2012) develop parasocial relations through the interactive affordances of social media, leveraging authenticity through a carefully managed exhibition of aspects of their lives and activities. As their audience changes in both quantity and quality, the bloggers’ perceptions of their audience develops, and they also adjust their performance according to their own changing life circumstances – such as graduating from university or changing jobs. When bloggers become parents, many of them are approached by advertisers keen to promote child- or parent centred consumer goods and services, meaning that their children become additional resources to leverage both audience and income.
This paper presents research that focuses on the impact that parenthood makes upon the lifestyle bloggers. It asks how parents negotiate their microcelebrity status, and the need to share ostensibly authentic portrayals of their life, with the challenges of parenthood. It also explores the impact of the expansion of outlets in a variety of social network sites.
This research follows up on a long-term participant observation of personal and lifestyle bloggers conducted from 2007-2009. Based on an inductive approach, it uses a combination of textual analysis and interviews to revisit microcelebrities who have become parents, and also expands the sample to other microcelebrities who are parents. It explores how they include their children and/or their parenting experiences into their online presence, and negotiate the attendant ethical and experiential challenges.