Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Andrejevic, Mark

First Committee Member

Peters, John Durham

Second Committee Member

McLeod, Kembrew

Third Committee Member

Depew, David

Fourth Committee Member

Rigal, Laura


This dissertation concerns the relationship between the liberating potential of an individuals' use of new media and the various institutional constraints on that. While I aim to explore the emancipatory potential of YouTube, I seek not to lose sight of the cultural, historical and political forces that limit individual use of it. This dissertation examines YouTube from agent, institution and text perspectives, the triangle of media studies. Each perspective illustrates tensions and conflicts between the personal and the public, amateurism and professionalism, narrowcasting and broadcasting, and User-Generated Content (UGC) and Professionally-Generated Content (PGC).

Technological development promises the expansion of the human being, the empowerment of individuals and widening opportunities of communication through personalized media. Amateur users take advantage of the convenience and accessibility in YouTube, and consequently they have a chance to deeply engage in the media content production-distribution-consumption-feedback system. With its encouragement of amateur video production, this new medium seems to have the capability to change the nature of media users, from passive audiences to active creators. However, the myth of the active user is inseparable from celebrity culture. Self-expression on the web is often imbued with the fascination with fame, but is not the same as user empowerment. Amateurism in UGC came to be compromised when the line between UGC and PGC started to blur. From a techno futuristic perspective, YouTube seems to make the audience into interactive users, but that interactivity is close to active consumption in the realm of disposable celebrity.

The development of mass media always involves a tension between mass communication and interpersonal communication. Historically, YouTube is positioned within the development of personalized media. YouTube is an evolutionary medium under the influence of traditional broadcasting, rather than a revolutionary medium discontinuous from media history. What contemporary people think new about YouTube are likely the consequences of technological evolution rather than those of media revolution. Exploring YouTube, I do not deny the convenience and accessibility of UGC media, but I do not want to lose sight of the legacy of amateurism, individualism and user participation.


2, viii, 174 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 158-174).


Copyright 2010 Jin Kim

Included in

Communication Commons