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Celebrity and Youth

Mediated Audiences, Fame Aspirations, and Identity Formation

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Edited By Spring-Serenity Duvall

Celebrity and Youth: Mediated Audiences, Fame Aspirations, and Identity Formation makes an examination of contemporary celebrity culture with an emphasis on how young celebrities are manufactured, how fan communities are cultivated, and how young audiences consume and aspire to fame. This book foregrounds considerations of diversity within celebrity and fan cultures, and takes an international perspective on the production of stardom. Chapters include interviews with professional athletes in the United States about their experiences with stardom after coming out as gay, and interviews with young people in Europe about their consumption of celebrity and aspirations of achieving fame via social media. Other chapters include interviews with young Canadian women that illuminate the potential influence of famous feminists on audience political engagement, and critical analysis of media narratives about race, happiness, cultural appropriation, and popular feminisms. The current anthology brings together scholarship from Canada, the United States, Spain, and Portugal to demonstrate the pervasive reach of global celebrity, as well as the commonality of youth experiences with celebrity in diverse cultural settings.

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Chapter 1: Social Media Celebrities as Salient Resource for Preteens’ Identity Work (Annebeth Bels / Hilde Van den Bulck)

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CHAPTER ONE

Social Media Celebrities as Salient Resource for Preteens’ Identity Work

ANNEBETH BELS AND HILDE VAN DEN BULCK



Introduction

This chapter focuses on social interactions amongst preteens in Flanders to explore the meaning and functions of the notion and types of celebrity in preteens’ identity making. It analyzes the ways in which preteens use (mediated communication about) celebrities as positive and negative role models in their identity work and in their views on worthwhile ways of being in the world. The latter illustrates how famous people, in particular social media celebrities, serve as a relevant and attainable career path and as positive and negative role models in preteens’ identity work. To this end, theoretically, the chapter combines insights from celebrity studies, i.e., how celebrity relates to notions of identity as makeable and performance, and the sociology of adolescence, focusing on children in their preteen years (age nine to thirteen years). This framework focuses on key characteristics of celebrity and of types of celebrity, and on their role in socialization and identity work. Furthermore, it explores the specifics of young people’s identity work, including the role of various socialization actors. Subsequently, the chapter turns to an analysis of participant observation and in-depth interview data collected through an ethnography in after-school care of fifteen nine-to-eleven-year olds, seven boys and eight girls. The chapter discusses how these data reveal the layers of relevance of celebrity for preteens’ identity work...

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