Focus: Studying communication about fat identification (on the Internet).
Method: Downloaded posts and threads, participated in the community, made community aware of her status as researcher.
Theory: Critical ethnographic approach that sought to challenge mainstream political and social discourse about fat bodies.
Points of Consideration: Changes in embodiment allowed for by the use of technology; alternative model of personhood (observing communicative processes and social interaction, as opposed to individualistic narratives); the "cybernetic shape of information technologies" as a political arena.
Questions Raised: How are bodies and identities "policed" in internet forums? How does the design of Internet space affect deployments of power?
Many of those with whom I've discussed the political and cultural potential of the internet believe that the lack of face-to-face interaction renders individuals essentially isolated. However, is it not possible that meaning can be created irrespective of time and space? That you or I could psychically connect through the sharing of information and ideas across immense distances?
Identity projection, or "egocasting" (see Christine Rosen), allows for an enormous amount of social creativity and identity play. In this arena, the body exists apart from the mind- a condition which may be extraordinarily appealing for those who undergo consistent prejudice and discrimination instigated by their physical forms.