The Experience and Performance of ‘Appropriate Femininity’ by Teenage Girls in Contemporary Ireland: Collision of Online and Offline Selves

Irena Loveikaite

    Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


    This qualitative research project explored a two-folded issue: how teenage girls experienced what it meant to be a girl in contemporary Ireland while being subjected by the global and local discourses of neoliberalism and postfeminism. Literature highlights that dominant media discourses address contemporary young girls as the subject of capacity (‘can-do’ femininity): able and capable of exercising their rights and feminine power. However, throughout media advertising, female power is continuously presented as primarily deriving from the possession of a young fit sexual female body. On the other hand, Irish cultural scripts of femininity – chaste, caring and family orientated – inform young girls about how to function in Irish society. To date, there have been few published studies that explored the experiences of teenage girls’ lives in Ireland. However, there is a gap in knowledge in understanding how teenage girls construct their online as well as offline female identities in contemporary Ireland. Thus, the question arises: how do teenage girls in Ireland navigate their online and offline identities when they are subjectified by local and global ethics of self-realisation? In-depth semi-structured qualitative consecutive interviews were employed (three times) to collect data from a sample of Transition Year (15-17 year-olds) teenage girls. The interviews followed a carnal hermeneutic approach to account for embodied teenage girls’ experiences. Data were thematically analysed following an interpretivist paradigm and informed by a Foucauldian and feminist theoretical standpoint. The research findings indicate that on social media the patriarchal power transforms itself through the positive affirmations of ‘Like’, resulting in a disembodied form of power. While teenage girls employ the language of ‘can-do’ femininity when constructing their social media identity, that identity is tightly policed to contain it within the stereotypical boundaries of femininity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • O'Brien, John, Supervisor
    • Byrne-Doran, Jacinta, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2018


    • Femininity, Social media


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