Searching for Oneself on YouTube: Teenage Peer Socialization and Social Recognition Processes

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YouTube is the preferred online platform for today’s teenagers. As such, this article explores the relationship between socialization processes in adolescent peer culture and the meanings behind the production and reception of YouTube videos by teenage audiences. Two fields of enquiry comprise the data analyzed in this article. First, through content analysis, we studied the production of videos on YouTube by teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18. The discursive construction of an audience is expressed by YouTubers through intimate identity performances using specific, dialogical, and conversational modes. The second study investigated the reception of these videos by teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 through the use of focus groups and in-depth interviews. The results explained the way young people develop a sense of closeness with YouTubers. When examined collectively, our studies reveal how teenage YouTube practices, both as production and reception of content, constitute a twofold social recognition process that incorporates a capacity to recognize oneself in others—like figures with whom one can identify with—and a need to be recognized by others as beings of value. The “intimate confessional production format,” as we have termed it, reinforces this bond.

This content has been updated on 26 January 2021 at 16 h 39 min.