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The beauty of blood?: Self-injury and ambivalence in an Internet community
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2011 (English)In: Journal of Youth Studies, ISSN 1367-6261, E-ISSN 1469-9680, Vol. 14, no 3, 279-294 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The present article analyzes how young self-injuring women and men construct themselves as ‘cutters.’ The study draws on observations of a Swedish Internet community connected to self-injurious behavior and departs from a poststructuralist framework in order to analyze how members position themselves and others in relation to cultural discourses on self-injury. Two main discourses are identified in the Web community: the ‘normalizing’ and the ‘pathologizing’ discourses, which give contrasting versions of self-injury, self-cutters, and their scarred bodies. Within the normalizing discourse, self-injurious behavior is regarded as a legitimate practice for dealing with mental health problems, ‘cutters’ are resilient, and their blood and scars are beautiful. In contrast, within the pathologizing discourse self-injurious behavior is understood as morally reprehensible, self-cutters are pathological, and their bodies are repulsive. In the Web community, members invoke both discourses, which leads to ambivalent subject positions. This study shows that the seemingly contradictory subject positions of the two discourses in fact are interdependent on each other as members draw on both the normalizing and the pathologizing discourses in order to become ‘authentic cutters.’

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 14, no 3, 279-294 p.
Keyword [en]
identity, media, youth culture, self-injury
National Category
Sociology Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-196161DOI: 10.1080/13676261.2010.533755OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-196161DiVA: diva2:609301
Available from: 2013-03-05 Created: 2013-03-05 Last updated: 2013-03-05Bibliographically approved

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