Rustic or Vintage Glam?: Pinterest as a Wedding Planning Tool

Proposal Title: 
Rustic or Vintage Glam?: Pinterest as a Wedding Planning Tool
Presenter(s): 
Abstract: 

Despite how Pinterest promotes itself as a tool to “discover ideas for any project or interest,” the advertising, the marketing, and the number of accounts headed by corporations rather than individuals complicates users’ sense of agency and identity on the site. The site is often used as a planning tool, yet the overwhelming mass of information often disrupts the utility of the site. This presentation shares the findings of a qualitative study that researched the attitudes and behaviors of women who used Pinterest to plan their wedding event.

Proposal: 

Several scholars have effectively argued that studies in composition and rhetoric need to attend to the communication that takes place in digital spaces as well as how that communication relates to identity formation (Wysocki, Shipka, Yancey); this research highlights the intersections between the self and the tools and technologies that make up our everyday realities. Aligning with these concerns of the composition and rhetoric community, media scholar Bernard Stiegler argues that humanity evolves “by exteriorizing itself in tools, artifacts, language, and technical memory banks” (65). Everyday digital social-networking sites, then, are key positions from which memory, cultural norms, and identities evolve and transform. If we take Stiegler’s theory to heart, our current digital tools—ones that, of course, prioritize efficiency and often result in user homogenization—are evolving simultaneously with our sense of self and with the ways we construct our identities. If we are to understand with more complexity the means by which social connections, meaning, communication, and culture are influenced and even constructed within digital spaces, then we must consider and attend to the technologies we use to organize our lives. As a means of addressing these considerations, Speaker 1 presents the results and analysis of a semester-long qualitative research study on Pinterest, specifically focusing on female Pinterest users who use the site to organize and plan for their wedding event.

Pinterest is a social-networking site that allows users to pin digital items to a board as well as share those pins and boards with other Pinterest users. Party and event planning is one of the popular uses of Pinterest by its users; the sites itself has an infinite number of party ideas, DIY projects, recipes, and budgeting or planning solutions. Though there are other uses for Pinterest, the creation of a wedding planning board is an extremely common use of the site. Despite how the site promotes itself as a tool to “discover ideas for any project or interest,” the advertising, the marketing, and the sheer number of accounts headed by corporations rather than individuals complicates users’ sense of agency and identity on Pinterest, while also troubling the distinction between what is considered a business and what counts as an individual. The research study focuses on understanding the attitudes and behaviors Pinterest users share when participating in an environment that offers a sense of usefulness or practicality in planning a wedding event, while at the same time offering an inexhaustible amount of information co-constructed by individuals, businesses, and corporations.

Several questions frame the findings of this study: What relationship is there between women’s Pinterest wedding boards and their attitudes and perceptions of the site? How do pins related to planning a wedding event, and the ability to arrange these pins, fit into the larger representation of the self? What patterns of behavior or rituals do these users share when participating on the site? And what do these patterns of behavior suggest about the values of this digital environment? How does the ability to organize using Pinterest boards influence women’s decisions and behaviors in regard to their wedding event? And finally, how do the allowances and constraints of the site frame how users understand themselves? 

Context: 
This proposal considers how the social-networking tool Pinterest requires a digital literacy for the site to be effective as a tool for users; users must parse through large databases and be subjected to marketing strategies in order to discover the information they seek. What is happening on Pinterest speaks to what is occurring within the larger ecosystem of the web.
Proposal Type: 
individual