The selfie and the transformation of the public-private distinction

Michael WALSH, Stephanie Saker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The selfie is a contemporary form of self-portraiture, representing a photographic image of the human face. The selfie is created for the purpose of reproduction and to communicate images visually with others from a distance. The proliferation of web 2.0 technologies and mobile smart phones enables users to generate and disseminate images at an unprecedented scale. Coupled with the increasing popularity of social media platforms, these technologies allow the selfie to be distributed to a wide audience in close to real time. Drawing upon Erving Goffman’s approach to the study of face-to-face social interaction, this article presents a discussion of the production and consumption of the selfie. We draw upon Goffman’s dramaturgical approach, to explore how the ‘presentation of self’ occurs in the context of a selfie. Next, we consider how the selfie as a form of visual communication holds critical implications for mediated life online as individuals go about doing privacy. We conclude by reflecting on the role of the selfie and its impact on the boundaries between public and private domains in contemporary social life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1185-1203
Number of pages19
JournalInformation, Communication and Society
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2017


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