Health vlogging: Social media culture and the (re)shaping of health-related practices by Youtubers

The project aims to explore health-related practices performed in the Youtube culture by professional Youtube vloggers (PYTV) or Youtubers. Youtube provides a virtual space where video content is the main means for communication and gaining visibility. The technological and financial affordances of this platform have enabled the rise of PYTV. This major digital shift inaugurates new forms of labor across an array of vlogging categories. PYTVs document their daily lives, interests, thoughts and feelings regularly on film to upload such content to a personal channel hosted by Youtube. This new form of communication is global, interactive and commercial. Health and lifestyle have grown into popular vlogging domains, where PYTV document on food, fitness, self-care and bodily health-related practices in an explicitly non-expert way. It has thus become necessary to understand how PYTVs are (re)defining health through their vlogging activity. The project focuses on health-related practices as embodied, social and culturally situated. The methodology will be adjusted to embrace this new kind of research material. Linguistic trends produced through PYTV activity will be mapped among a number of PYTV channels inspired from a linguistic automatic method used in similar domains. On the basis of the broad trends revealed, a number of videos will be selected for a qualitative analysis through a narrative-based approach and visual methods. Also, posted public comments from the audience will be qualitatively analyzed. Expected outcomes will constitute a first major step towards the study of health-related practices as co-constructed social entities in a new digital culture, through an unprecedented form of labor. Research implications include: the conceptualization of new forms of health-related practices as embodied, situated, and socio-culturally co-constructed; and the creation of an innovative methodology suited for analyzing contemporary digital material generated by influential social media platforms.
Idiap Research Institute, University of Lausanne
Swiss National Science Foundation
Dec 01, 2019
Nov 30, 2020