Construction of Artisthood in the Online Encounter Between Blog Writers and Their Readers
Weblogs can be understood as both a personal space and a social medium (Boyd, 2006; Walker Rettberg, 2008) since they simultaneously empower the author to construct a presentation of the self and can engage the reader in actively commenting upon these self-constructions. Given both characteristics, the meaning of weblogs has been theorized in diverging ways. Weblogs are said to have the ability to demystify social constructions and relations between traditional content producers such as artists, and traditional content consumers because according to some scholars, these new technologies allow an almost all-revealing insight into artists’ decision-making processes (Whiteley, 2007). In contrast, weblogs can also be understood as media that reaffirm the value, and hence, the distinction of the traditional content producer. Here, it is argued that the features and the conventions of blogs ascribe a certain type of capital to the blog writer that corresponds to the Romantic cultural convention of the author as an individual, mysterious and even magical genius (Chesher, 2005). It is remarkable that these ideas and arguments often echo opinions about how this specific relationship is constructed through the use of traditional mass media. Therefore, to understand how weblogs shape the relationship between artists and their audience as well as the degree to which these relations are distinct in connection with other mediatised encounters between both actors, I focus on a specific type of artists—literary authors. There is a long tradition of valuing literature as a mythical form of art and knowledge (Bain, 2005: 43, Bennett, 2005: 106, Nair, 2010: 9-10), which makes it interesting to study the way the concepts of artisthood and artistic authority are constructed in writers’ weblogs. The focus of my doctoral research is to study in what way contemporary writers use the weblog to enhance or open up their symbolic, cultural and social capital towards their readers (Bourdieu,  1993). Moreover, it is my intention to clarify to what extent the present-day relationship between writers and their readers as well as the way both actors perceive each other’s social role and position is given form through the use of weblogs.