Skip to content
BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access September 16, 2016

From Narrating the Self to Posting Self(ies): A Small Stories Approach to Selfies

  • Alexandra Georgakopoulou
From the journal Open Linguistics


Selfies have by now earned a prominent place in the diverse forms of self-representation on social media. In sociolinguistic terms, they have been undergoing a process of enregisterment (Agha 2005), as attested to in moral panics in public discussions and in a developing selfie-related lexicon. A phenomenon worthy of study then, yet largely unexplored, particularly within discourse and sociolinguistic perspectives on identities (possibly due to the selfie’s visual nature). My aim in this article is to venture (and justify) a ‘claiming’ of selfies by small stories. Selfies present the semiotic hallmarks of small stories, as I will show, and so they constitute valuable ‘data’, the study of which can benefit from small stories inquiry into genres as communicative and social practices on social media. Small stories apparatus is well-suited to selfie analysis: it has been specifically developed to account for genres that challenge the assumptions and modes of analysis of conventional narrative and life writing studies. Using data of selfie postings by adolescent women on FB, I will show how within a small stories framework, far from being narcissistic expressions of ‘ideal selves’, selfies emerge as contextualized and co-constructed presentations of self, shaped by media affordances.


Bamberg, Michael & Alexandra Georgakopoulou. 2008. Small stories as a new perspective in narrative and identity analysis. Text & Talk 28: 377-396. 10.1515/TEXT.2008.018Search in Google Scholar

Barry, Christopher T., Doucette, Hannah, Loflin, Della C., Rivera-Hudson, Nicole, & Herrington, Lacey L. 2015. ‘Let Me Take a Selfie’: Associations Between Self-Photography, Narcissism, and Self-Esteem. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, doi:10.1037/ppm0000089 10.1037/ppm0000089Search in Google Scholar

Bauman, Richard. 1986. Story, performance and event. Cambridge: CUP. 10.1017/CBO9780511620935Search in Google Scholar

Briggs, Charles. 2005. Communicanility, racial discourse, and disease. Annual Review of Anthropology 34: 269-291 10.1146/annurev.anthro.34.081804.120618Search in Google Scholar

Brockmeier, Jens. 2015. Beyond the archive. Memory, narrative and the autobiographical process. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199861569.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Collins, Randall. 2004. Interaction ritual chains. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 10.1515/9781400851744Search in Google Scholar

Dayter, Daria. 2015. Small stories and extended narratives on Twitter. Discourse, Context & Media 10: 19-26. Search in Google Scholar

Deppermann, Arnulf. 2015. Positioning. In De Fina, Anna & Georgakopoulou, Alexandra (eds.) The Handbook of Narrative Analysis. New York: Wiley-Blackwell. 369-387. Search in Google Scholar

Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. 2007. Small stories, interaction and identities. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/sin.8Search in Google Scholar

Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. 2013a. Storytelling on the go: Breaking news stories as a travelling narrative genre. In Hatavara, M., Hydén, L-C and Hyvärinen, Matti (eds) The Travelling concepts of narrative. Amsterdam/Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. 201–224. Search in Google Scholar

Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. 2013b. Small stories research as a framework for the study of social media practices: Narrative stancetaking and circulation in a Greek news story. Sociolinguistica 27: 19–36. 10.1515/soci.2013.27.1.19Search in Google Scholar

Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. 2013c. Building iterativity into positioning analysis: A practice-based approach to small stories and self. Special Issue on Positioning. Narrative Inquiry 23: 89-110. 10.1075/ni.23.1.05geoSearch in Google Scholar

Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. 2014. Small stories transposition & social media: A micro-perspective on the ‘Greek crisis’. Discourse & Society 25: 519-539. 10.1177/0957926514536963Search in Google Scholar

Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. 2015. Sharing as rescripting. Place manipulations on YouTube between narrative and social media affordances. Discourse, Context & Media 9: 64-72. Search in Google Scholar

Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. 2016 (in press). Life/narrative of the moment. From telling a story to taking a narrative stance. In In McKim, Elisabeth, Sylvie Patron & Brian Schiff (eds.) Life and narrative. Oxford: OUP. Search in Google Scholar

Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. Forthcoming. Doing alignment on social media: Ritual appreciation and knowing participation as systematic interactional practices. In Leppänen, Sirpa, Kytölä, Samu and Westinen, Elina (eds.) Discourse and identification: diversity and heterogeneity in social media practices. London: Routledge. Search in Google Scholar

Georgalou, Mariza. 2015. Small stories of the Greek crisis on Facebook. Social Media and Society. 10.1177/2056305115605859Search in Google Scholar

Goffman, Erving. 1981. Forms of talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Search in Google Scholar

Guardiola, Mathilde & Bertrand, Roxane. 2013. Interactional convergence in conversational storytelling: when reported speech is a cue of alignment and/or affiliation. Frontiers in Psychology 4. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00705 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00705Search in Google Scholar

Goodwin, Marjorie H. 2007. Participation and embodied action in preadolescent girls’ assessment activity. Research on Language and Social Interaction 40: 353-375. 10.1080/08351810701471344Search in Google Scholar

Hine, Christine., Kendall, Lisa. and Boyd, Danah. 2009. Question one: How can qualitative internet researchers define the boundaries of their projects? In: Markham, Anette N. and Baym, Nancy K. (eds) Internet inquiry: Conversations about method. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, pp. 1–20. Search in Google Scholar

Houghton, David, Johnson, Adam, Caldwell, Nigel, & Marder, Ben. 2013.Tagger’s Delight? Disclosure and liking in Facebook: The effects of sharing photographs amongst multiple known social circles. Working Paper, Birmingham Discussion Paper Series. Available: (last accessed 31/7/2016) Search in Google Scholar

Jaffe, Alexandra 2009 (ed.) Stance: Sociolinguistic perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Jefferson, Gail. 1978. Sequential aspects of storytelling in conversation. In Jim Schenkein. (Ed.), Studies in the organisation of conversational interaction (pp. 219-49). New York, NY: Academic Press. Search in Google Scholar

Kress, Gunther and Van Leeuwen, Theo. 2001. Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. Arnold: London. Search in Google Scholar

Lerner, Gene. 1992. Assisted storytelling: deploying shared knowledge as a practical matter. Qualitative Sociology 15: 247-271. 10.1007/BF00990328Search in Google Scholar

Mandelbaum, Jenny. 1987. Couples sharing stories. Communication Quarterly: 144-171. 10.1080/01463378709369678Search in Google Scholar

Markham, Annette N. 2013. remix culture, remix methods: Reframing qualitative inquiry for social media contexts. In Denzin, Norman & Giardina, Michael (eds.) Global dimensions of qualitative inquiry. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. 63-81. Search in Google Scholar

Marwick, Alice. 2013. Status update. Celebrity, publicity and branding in the social media age. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Marwick, Alice, & Boyd, Danah. 2011. I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse and the imagined audience. New Media and Society 13: 114-133 10.1177/1461444810365313Search in Google Scholar

McRobbie, Angela. 2009. The aftermath of feminism. London: Sage. Search in Google Scholar

Page, Ruth. 2012. Stories and social media. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203148617Search in Google Scholar

Pomerantz, Anita. 1984. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. In Atkinson, Maxwell J. & Heritage, John (eds.), Structures of Social Action: Studies in Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 57-101 10.1017/CBO9780511665868.008Search in Google Scholar

Scollon, Ronald, & Scollon, Susan. 2007. Nexus analysis: Refocusing ethnography on action. Journal of Sociolinguistics 11: 608-625. 10.1111/j.1467-9841.2007.00342.xSearch in Google Scholar

Senft, Theresa M. 2013. Microcelebrity and the Branded Self. In Hartley, John, Burgess, Jean & Bruns, Axel (eds.) A Companion to New Media Dynamics. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. 10.1002/9781118321607.ch22Search in Google Scholar

Stivers T. (2008). Stance, alignment, and affiliation during storytelling: when nodding is a token of affiliation. Research in Language and Social Interaction 41: 31–57. Search in Google Scholar

Tamboukou, Maria. 2015. ‘ Farewell to the self: between the letter and the self-portrait’ Life Writing, 12: 75-91, 10.1080/14484528.2013.810242Search in Google Scholar

Squire, Corinne, Esin, Cigdem. & Burman, Chila. 2013. ‘You Are Here’: Visual Autobiographies, Cultural-Spatial Positioning, and Resources for Urban Living. Sociological Research Online, 18. 10.5153/sro.2975Search in Google Scholar

van Dijck, José. 2013 You have one identity: Performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn. Media, Culture and Society 35: 199-215. Search in Google Scholar

Walker Rettberg, Jill (2014) Seeing ourselves through technology: how we use selfies, blogs and wearable devices to see and shape ourselves, Palgrave Pivot: Basingstoke, UK. 10.1057/9781137476661Search in Google Scholar

West, Laura. 2013. Facebook sharing: A sociolinguistic analysis of computer- mediated storytelling. Discourse, Context & Media 2: 1-13 10.1016/j.dcm.2012.12.002Search in Google Scholar

Zappavigna, Michelle. 2012. Discourse of Twitter and social media. How we use language to create affiliation on the web. London/New Delhi/NY/Sydney: Bloomsbury. Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2016-4-12
Accepted: 2016-8-9
Published Online: 2016-9-16

© 2016 Alexandra Georgakopoulou

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

Downloaded on 24.2.2024 from
Scroll to top button