'Beauty Vlogging: Practices, Labours, Inequality'

PhD Thesis


Bishop, Sophie 2018. 'Beauty Vlogging: Practices, Labours, Inequality'. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Arts and Digital Industries
AuthorsBishop, Sophie
TypePhD Thesis
Abstract

This thesis investigates the practices and labours of beauty vloggers (video bloggers) and the
inequality sustained by these labours and practices. Beauty vloggers regularly produce
videos on themes including hair, beauty, fashion and relationships for their own stable, selfcontained,
branded YouTube channels. The literature on beauty vlogging has examined the
presentations of individual vloggers. In this thesis, I problematise the conception of beauty
vlogging as a solo endeavour, situating beauty vloggers in a wider vlogging industry, in the
specific geographic context of the UK. Through the lens of feminist political economy, I ask
how the organisational (macro) structures, in addition to (micro) frictional interactions
between industry stakeholders co-produce beauty vloggers’ symbolic content.
Analysis is informed by a wider three-year ethnographic study of British ‘A List’ vloggers on
YouTube, conducted between 2015-2018, drawing from the “messy web” of research sites
(Postill & Pink, 2012: 125). Ethnography thus encompasses digital, and offline elements, that
make up the complexity and embodied nature of long term analysis of spaces contingent to
platforms. I also conducted semi-structured interviews with beauty vloggers and
stakeholders.
Through ‘zooming out’ from analysis of the independent beauty vlogger this thesis considers
how YouTube’s multisided markets, algorithms and their interpretations, the subjective
decisions of talent management organisations, relationships with advertisers, authenticity
discourses and alignment with existing creative industries and intermediaries all shaped the
content that becomes visible on YouTube.
iii
Very few women are able to create a sustainable career through YouTube production,
although YouTube is increasingly promoted as a pathway to creative employment. In this
thesis I counter YouTube’s self-definition as an ‘open platform’. I argue that organisational
structures and interactions between stakeholders assign visibility and reify existing lines of
societal inequalities, in addition to rewarding the production of commercial and feminised
content in the vlogging industry.

Year2018
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.15123/PUB.7915
Publication dates
PrintSep 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited06 Feb 2019
Publisher's version
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https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/846yy

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