The selfie production model: Rethinking selfie taking, editing, and posting practices



With the rise of digital technologies, selfies are a contemporary and popular form of digitally produced self-expression for Saudi women. Informed by Goffman’s (1959) self-presentation theory and Hall’s (1966) proxemics theory, this study explores the process of producing and posting selfies on Instagram and Snapchat platforms, and examines how these practices are shaped by cultural norms and platform affordances. Methodologically, an ethnographic approach was employed to observe selfie practices involving: focus groups, face-to-face interviews, online observation, and photo-elicitation interviews. The sample consisted of 35 Saudi women between 18-57 years old. The results were used to develop a framework for understanding selfie production consisting of six processes: the motivation process, pre-photo process, platform affordances process, audience customization process, assessment of cultural norms process, and the process of reposting selfie. Also, the study identified a number of strategies practiced by Saudi women to present a more desirable self, including: digitally editing the selfie using beautifying filters, arranging the background, retaking the selfie, and adding digital makeup. Cultural norms were found to heavily influence selfie practices, as selfie takers carefully select particular audiences with whom to share the selfie, while blocking others from viewing the selfie using “virtual walls” depending on veiling practices, habitual proximity, and the appropriateness of the content. The model and the identified strategies make an important empirical contribution that provides a new way of thinking about selfie practices outside Euromerica.

Selfie, women, platform affordances, self-presentation, culture, Saudi Arabia, Snapchat, Instagram, selfie model

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