MediaTALKS: Stefanie Duguay

25-10-2017 from 17:30 to 19:00
Filmzaal Plateau, Paddenhoek 3, 9000 Gent
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Kicking of MediaTALKS is Stefanie Duguay, a researcher at the Digital Media Research Centre at the Queensland University of Technology.

In this talk, Duguay will discuss the approach, methods, and findings from her study of queer women’s participation and representation on contemporary social media platforms. She combined traditional and digital research methods to analyse queer women’s use of: Tinder, a platform for dating and meeting people; Instagram, a platform for photo sharing; and Vine, a platform for sharing short, looping videos.

For each platform, she conducted the walkthrough method (Light, Burgess, & Duguay, 2016) to understand its technological affordances and embedded cultural symbols. Then she collected and analysed queer women’s content using digital tools and interviewed queer female users from each platform. Findings revealed platform-specific forms of participation and representation as well as a common set of practices.

She understands these practices as ‘identity modulation’ – continuous decision-making about whether and how much to make sexual identity recognisable in relation to other personally identifying information (e.g., name, location, face) for particular social media audiences. The term invokes the analogy of adjusting device settings, such as volume or brightness, as variables that can be altered by the user but are subject to the affordances and constraints of the available controls. Queer women engaged in identity modulation on Tinder to find partners, on Instagram to create their personal brand, and on Vine to form close-knit communities. Across platforms, identity modulation enabled queer women to participate in networked publics. However, individuals also encountered impediments to identity modulation, such as embedded platform biases and discriminatory user practices.

She wishes to share these findings to spark a discussion of avenues for future research relating to sexuality and digital media.



Stefanie Duguay is a researcher in the Digital Media Research Centre at the Queensland University of Technology. She holds an MSc from the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, and a BASc in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Lethbridge. Her research focuses on the mutual shaping of users and digital technology in the performance of sexual identity. Her work has been published in Information, Communication & Society, the International Journal of Communication, and New Media & Society. She can be found on Twitter @DugStef and more information about her research is available at