I have always wanted to write about YouTube. But I never had enough knowledge or interesting hypothesis about it. My best and worst attempt was during a new media course I was taking. I thought I found something to work on that could reveal some motivations about familiarity, sharing, and algorithm-driven consumption. It was about reaction videos. A man from Europe who was living in Asia was listening to rap music videos from the middle east and Asia, many from Turkey, that’s how I encountered his channel since I was listening to rap on YouTube. He was mostly extremely positive and in a praise-mode about all the music he was listening to. At that time, it was not something new, but was a bit niche for the platform. Now there are thousands of reaction video content creators in several different applications. I enjoyed watching his videos, but I was also surprised by the enthusiasm of the people who commented on them. The comments were permeated by nationalism, excitement, and sarcasm. After reading stuff about YouTube, I couldn’t find a way to structure my interest, then I failed the course. Maybe I should have done a vlog about it.
So, I’ll try to write some half-ass ideas about YouTube in this blog. One of the reasons is that I’m often trying or avoiding talking about YouTube videos with my friends who are not interested, and I feel I’m bothering them and stealing their time with this. Here I wouldn’t steal anyone’s time and detoxicate myself freely. For inspiration, I’ll read Raymond Williams’ book on TV. That’s enough as an intro, but there’s also a walker YouTuber that I want to share as a start. Is he Patrick Keiller of YouTube? I encountered him thanks to his walks through The Rings of Saturn.
Maddox, J., & Creech, B. (2021). Interrogating LeftTube: ContraPoints and the Possibilities of Critical Media Praxis on YouTube. Television & New Media, 22(6), 595–615.
For the past several years, media commentary and cultural analysis has grown increasingly fixated on YouTube as a radicalization hub, particularly around extremist, alt-right content. However, a growing community of leftist YouTube content creators, loosely coalescing into the platform’s “LeftTube,” have developed dialogic relationships with some of YouTube’s most extreme content. This work focuses on one specific LeftTube creator, ContraPoints, to explore how those on the political left engage with YouTube’s cultural and technical affordances to challenge alt-right ideology. Through a textual analysis of ContraPoints’ top thirty videos, we identified three main discursive strategies: practicing deradicalization strategies on YouTube; establishing alt-right individuals as an intentional audience; and developing a language for escaping alt-right logics. ContraPoints, and her rightful critics, demonstrate how political subjectivities are created and contested within YouTube as both a technical and cultural space.
Bishop, S. (2019). Managing visibility on YouTube through algorithmic gossip. New Media & Society, 21(11–12), 2589–2606.
Beauty vloggers’ feminised outputs often position them outside of traditional spheres of technical expertise, however, their strategic management of algorithmic visibility makes them an illuminating source of algorithmic knowledge. I draw from an ethnography of beauty vloggers and industry stakeholders to study the collaborative and directive processes used to formulate and sustain algorithmic expertise – algorithmic gossip. Algorithmic gossip is defined as communally and socially informed theories and strategies pertaining to recommender algorithms, shared and implemented to engender financial consistency and visibility on algorithmically structured social media platforms. Gossip is productive: community communication and talk informs and supports practices such as uploading frequently and producing feminised beauty content to perform more effectively on YouTube. Taking gossip seriously can present a valuable resource for revealing information about how algorithms work and have worked, in addition to revealing how perceptions of algorithms inform content production.
Maloney, M., Roberts, S., & Caruso, A. (2018). ‘Mmm … I love it, bro!’: Performances of masculinity in YouTube gaming. New Media & Society, 20(5), 1697–1714.
Despite being ubiquitous and embedded in everyday life, ‘the centrality of the Internet is still under-theorized in much masculinities research’. Contributing to the knowledge base in this area, here we place under the microscope the performance of hetero-masculinities undertaken by the three most popular YouTube gaming vloggers in 2015–2016: PewDiePie, VanossGaming and Sky Does Minecraft. The focus of this article thus sits at the intersection of YouTube vlogging and gaming cultures, a site that is of particular sociological interest given the latter’s associations with the (re)production and function of hegemonic masculinity. In examining the performances and constructions of gender by male gamers on YouTube, our research adds to the growing body of work highlighting the emergence of increasing levels of complexity in the construction of contemporary masculine identities.
Pietrobruno, S. (2013). YouTube and the social archiving of intangible heritage. New Media & Society, 15(8), 1259–1276.
Since 2003, UNESCO has promoted and protected the function and values of intangible heritage. A method of safeguarding employed by UNESCO is the storage of videos of immaterial heritage on YouTube. Individuals have also been producing videos of the very practices sanctioned by UNESCO and uploading them to this website. The combining of UNESCO and user-generated heritage videos is producing informal archives of digital heritage. This exploration of YouTube as an archive of intangible heritage examines whether social archiving has the potential to counter official heritage narratives that can reproduce distinctions based upon gender. The capacity of social archiving to challenge gendered divisions is examined through the Mevlevi Sema (or whirling dervish) ceremony of Turkey, safeguarded by UNESCO in 2005. This research, which integrates social media and archive studies with actual and virtual ethnography, considers technical aspects including algorithms as well as social and cultural facets of digital media.
Chen, K., Jeon, J., & Zhou, Y. (2021). A critical appraisal of diversity in digital knowledge production: Segregated inclusion on YouTube. New Media & Society, 146144482110348.
Diversity in knowledge production is a core challenge facing science communication. Despite extensive works showing how diversity has been undermined in science communication, little is known about to what extent social media augments or hinders diversity for science communication. This article addresses this gap by examining the profile and network diversities of knowledge producers on a popular social media platform—YouTube. We revealed the pattern of the juxtaposition of inclusiveness and segregation in this digital platform, which we define as “segregated inclusion.” We found that diverse profiles are presented in digital knowledge production. However, the network among these knowledge producers reveals the rich-get-richer effect. At the intersection of profile and network diversities, we found a decrease in the overall profile diversity when we moved toward the center of the core producers. This segregated inclusion phenomenon questions how inequalities in science communication are replicated and amplified in relation to digital platforms.