“Being pretty does not help your success”: Self-representation and behind-the-screen work of China’s female showroom livestreamers

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference contributionAcademic

Abstract

China’s showroom livestreaming is highly gender-segregated, in which young women working as showroom livestreamers are often stigmatized and criticized as hypersexual or vulgar. Situating female streamers’ practices in the sociocultural environment of contemporary China and comparing them to other wanghong creators such as fashion or beauty bloggers in China’s digital economy, we investigate how female streamers construct a particular type of gendered entrepreneurial subjectivity. In this research, we selected 90 short videos that are produced by three female streamers on the social media platform Douyin to examine their self-representations and discursive practices around showroom livestreaming production. In the analysis, we unravel three major interconnected narratives: enduring the behind-the-screen hardship of livestreaming is worthy; navigating heterosexual relationships with viewers is part of showroom livestreaming work; and professional skills and knowhow are provided for those who truly aspire to success. These narratives commonly form a discourse of showroom livestreaming as good work for ordinary working-class or underclass women to achieve social and economic advancement in contemporary China. Moreover, these narratives render young women as autonomous agents with free choices to hustle in the world of showroom livestreaming, normalizing the precarious working conditions as well as gender power imbalances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventIAMCR OCP23: Annual conference of the Interantional Association for Media and Communication Research - Lyon, France
Duration: 9 Jul 202313 Aug 2023

Conference

ConferenceIAMCR OCP23
Abbreviated titleIAMCR OCP23
Country/TerritoryFrance
Period9/07/2313/08/23

Research programs

  • ESHCC M&C

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