Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Refining my Research: Narrowing the locus

I have been reflecting a lot lately on everything I have encountered in the past weeks of research. In assessing my research process I have realized that, rather organically, I am able to refine the locus of my research. As discussed in previous posts, I have had difficulty gaining access, I have had issues with ethics; finding the 'heart' of this community has been challenging given its unique history- I have been thinking that perhaps it is dead indeed. Lately I have settled into a community of bloggers (rather than focussing on the 'pro-ana sites' themselves). The plethora of material has meant that I am now trying to narrow my focus. 
With my presentation and the research paper looming in the near distance I am looking at my data and trying to look at how I might present my findings and experiences. So, without detracting from the range of community members, I am starting to look at where and how some bloggers and some sites are similar in their approach and experience, and to feature one or two bloggers, sites and online phenomenon associated with this community. 
Since this community has experienced a significant transformation I think it is important to highlight a representation that best exemplifies the features of each transition.  
To briefly outline:
1) I will start by looking at the history of this community. The pro-ana community takes root in more explicit sites than what we see now. By looking at some of research of older, more 'hardcore' sites as well as research and media in reaction to these sites I will be able to track the subsequent transitions in this community.
2) In order to preface a study of this community, it is imperative to have a strong understanding of Eating Disorders and the social/pshycological features of such diseases. 
3) I will outline the demographic that I am studying. 
4) I will look at some of the sites that are currently 'pro-ana' and outline their features, as well as some of the 'on-goings' on these sites.
5) It is interesting to see how 'pro-ana' sentiments permeate other parts of cyberspace (youtube, "bootcamps", and now, blogs)....
6) The pro-ana sentiment is prominent in the blog community and I have been following a few that I find interesting. 

There have been many obstacles in this research so far that have made it difficult to gain access to the community, the first and most prominent being that I do not have an eating disorder. Many, if not most, of the sites have a disclaimer reading: "If you do not have an eating disorder, do not enter"
However, much of the reading and research I have done has given me some interesting insights that I look forward to sharing next monday...


  1. I see you're following my blog for your research project lol. I'm okay w/ it don't worry. On one hand my ego almost kind of likes it that you must actually find my blog at least somewhat "interesting" enough to follow...on the other hand that makes me sound really sick lol.

    If you have any questions for me or anything let me know and I'll try my best to answer them for you. I actually find research on EDs very fascinating...yeah kind of weird I suppose.

  2. Hello Button,

    I came across this article for my research, and I was wondering if you could find any interest in it. It is a Consumer Culture Theory text, so it may differ from what you are used to in your discipline. Also, it might not be directly in lien with your current research focus, but I'm sharing it with you anyhow...

    Understanding the Socialized Body: A Poststructuralist Analysis of Consumers' Self-
    Conceptions, Body Images, and Self-Care Practices
    by Craig J. Thompson and Elizabeth C. Hirschman

    Source: The Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Sep., 1995), pp. 139-153
    Published by: The University of Chicago Press
    Stable URL:
    (I don't know if you can access this source via your University's online library - if not, let me know)

    Here's the abstract:
    The present inquiry examines the psychosocial meanings and processes that shape
    consumers' sense of body image and the consumption behaviors motivated by
    those perceptions. Poststructuralist interpretive procedures were used to analyze
    interviews with 30 male and female consumers, aged 6-54. This discourse analysis
    led to the development of three process-orientated themes: (1) the ideology of selfcontrol,
    (2) the social processes of normalization and problematization, and (3) the
    operation of the disciplinary gaze. The systematic manifestations of these themes
    are illustrated across a range of consumer experiences and body-focused perceptions.
    Implications of these themes for the theoretical conceptualizations of body
    image and the nature of self-concept in contemporary consumer culture are discussed.

    Keep on your good job!

  3. Hey, this sounds very interesting! ...If you have any questions, just ask - I'm completely fine with it. I also find this project of yours very interesting.

    Although I have to note one thing. I dont consider myself to be 'pro-ana'. I'm simply battling an eating disorder and need somewhere to publish my thoughts. Its so much easier to deal with all my issues online than to have them bottled up.