05 januari 2010

Lolitas are memes - "The Virtual Social: Actor-Network Theory in cyberculture" (2009)


Min väninna har skrivit en akademisk uppsats där hon använder sig av aktör-nätverksteorin och förklarar hur och varför de största lolitadiskussionsgrupperna på nätet fungerar som de gör. Uppsatsen heter "The Virtual Social: Actor-Network Theory in cyberculture" och kan laddas ner från Mediafire.

Uppsatsen liknar Livejournalcommunityn EGL och dess systergrupper som ett nätverk som hålls ihop av ett lim som består av normer, interna koder och en gemensamt överenskommen struktur. Inom nätverket finns sedan aktörer och medlare av olika rang som lämnar spår, influerar, utvecklar och är beroende av andra aktörer och medlare inom gruppen.

I en diskussionstråd på EGL om vad som krävdes för att vara lolita svarade en majoritet av medlemmarna att "lolita är enbart ett mode". Lolitakläderna i sig är då aktörerna i gruppen som driver och utvecklar flödet och lämnar spår efter sig i form av bilder. Kläderna sprids via nästa aktör som är datorerna och återanvänds med hjälp av medlemmarna inom diskussionsgruppen som är medlarna. På det sättet blir själva utövandet av lolita ett meme och lolitor blir då kopior av varandras skådespel.

The computer is then the unseen actant in this network or rather, performance. It is with computers and cameras that one can document the moment of being lolita. It is also with computers that users upload their lolita photos, comment on the lolita photo, and even enhance their attractiveness using computer programmes like Photoshop.
Most importantly, it is only with computers does lolita exist as a meme. It exists as a meme because it is imitated faithfully (the same silhouette, aesthetics) and selfcontained.
The lolita is the lolita, there is no further divisible value because lolita is an act. There is the clothes, but the clothes must be worn by the user. There is the user, but the user alone is not a lolita. Therefore, the lowest denominator of the unit is the lolita – a single undivisible unit of cultural transmission; replicated.





My friend wrote a paper analyzing the biggest lolita communities on Livejournal by using the actor-network theory to explain why and how they function. The paper is called "The Virtual Social: Actor-Network Theory in cyberculture" and can be downloaded from Mediafire.

The community EGL and it's subgroups are built and held together with it's own structures and norms and is driven, influenced and dependent on actors and mediators that leave traces behind where ever they go.

In a discussion on EGL about what defines a lolita the majority of the commenters said that "lolita is nothing but a fashion". The fashion, the clothes, are then the actors that leave traces behind in form of photos in the community, spread by computers and the internet (also actors) and interpreted by the mediators (the wearers). This makes the act of lolita a meme and lolitas as different variations of copies of eachother.

The computer is then the unseen actant in this network or rather, performance. It is with computers and cameras that one can document the moment of being lolita. It is also with computers that users upload their lolita photos, comment on the lolita photo, and even enhance their attractiveness using computer programmes like Photoshop.
Most importantly, it is only with computers does lolita exist as a meme. It exists as a meme because it is imitated faithfully (the same silhouette, aesthetics) and selfcontained.
The lolita is the lolita, there is no further divisible value because lolita is an act. There is the clothes, but the clothes must be worn by the user. There is the user, but the user alone is not a lolita. Therefore, the lowest denominator of the unit is the lolita – a single undivisible unit of cultural transmission; replicated.

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