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Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc in Digital Anthropology (UCL) of the University of London in 2011. This research focused in an informal group ...
Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc in Digital Anthropology (UCL) of the University of London in 2011. This research focused in an informal group called “YouTube beauty gurus”. They invest time and resources attracting attention to (and thus gaining publicity from) videos they produce mainly about how to perform makeup routines. I used the ethnographic material the research generated to analyse the production of social order in a virtual space where everyone has the same infrastructure to act. I drew from Munn’s (1986) theory of value to analyse a digital artefact called “Tag” used for bridging smaller networks of users through the spatiotemporal expansion of those who trade it. Gell’s (1998) theory of art provided the larger framing to examine video makeup tutorials, a sophisticated construct that entraps its audience by creating the impression of affinity of the guru with her viewers. The final chapter applied Munn’s phenomenological approach to map debates around performance, professionalization, friendship and beauty, which are central to this group’s. In all cases, the research confirmed that conceptualizing action as the origin of value creation represented a rich alternative to examine how this group engineers its social organization. Also, this work discusses methodological possibilities to conduct ethnographic research on YouTube.