Hepworth, Georgia (2021) Narcissus, Self-Surveillance, and the Virtual Doppelgänger: To what extent do these terms exist in selfie and photographic culture, and what psychological and sociological influences do they have? Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Selfies are regarded as being a benefit and affliction of mediated social media behaviours. They are a central, not a marginal or trivial, area of Western Culture and for many selfies are an everyday practice. Through researching selfies, my objective is to generate new insight into how selfies can affect their takers on a psychological and sociological level. Initially, I found that research into this area was predominantly focused on the aftermath effect of selfies. Examining how selfies evoke discussions about non-authenticity, heightening insecurities and encourage narcissistic behaviours. Rather than looking primarily at the after-effects, I created a body of research that explores the motivations and psychological components that are urging people to take selfies. I used existing theories as a skeleton for modern re-evaluation and application. Alongside using critical and contemporary photographic practise as a method of reflecting on my findings. Additionally, coining new terminology such as the virtual doppelgänger to encourage a new perspective in the way we consider selfies and people’s social media presence. Equally, how different factors such as gender and age influence their style and rationale for taking selfies and sharing them online. My research provides a perspective that examines the prior motivations for taking selfies, what can occur during selfie-taking, and how this ultimately affects takers and Western society psychologically and sociologically.

Hepworth THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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