Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (12.37 MB)

SELF i.e. An exploration into the cultural value of selfies

Download (12.37 MB)
posted on 2022-07-28, 00:59 authored by Beeden, Eleanor

This thesis investigates the cultural value of selfies. The selfie is an artifact of self-representation in network culture, and its communication of identity parallels that of historical self-portraiture. This research analyses the socio-cultural context of both historical self-portraits and selfies in order to show evidence that these two forms of self-representation have similar cultural value. Through design-led research, a series of experiments explore the relationship between these two forms. Investigations into the creation of identity in the age of social media, the social context of historical self-portraiture, and the effect of the popularisation of celebrity culture on cultural worth, lead to the identification of common elements between the two forms of identity representation. Finally, this thesis describes the creation of a product that employs these conceptual elements. The output was produced through crowd-funding, a system of modern patronage in network culture. This final output indicates that, beyond innate social value, selfies have cultural worth through what the scholar David Throsby terms ‘aesthetic value’ and ‘authenticity value’, and their economic reflection.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Media Design

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft); 950205 Visual Communication; 970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design; 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Languages, Communication and Culture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure Basic Research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design


Spell, Rhazes