Lizhen Zhao
2021 Selected Papers of Internet Research, SPIR  
The recent minimalist lifestyle is often claimed to be a way to change your life by minimizing your spending, possessions, tasks, relationships, etc. YouTube is an important venue where minimalist content is published and shared (Meissner, 2019). The current study focuses on "minimalist journey" narratives, where people tell their stories of "encountering" the minimalist lifestyle. I collected "minimalist journey" stories from 40 YouTube videos with their comments and analyzed them using
more » ... ve analysis methods, both thematic and structural (Labov & Waletzky, 1997; Riessman, 2005). By closely examining these narratives, this study sheds light on how people experience and make sense of the minimalist lifestyle within the context of anti-consumerism and neoliberalism in digital space. This study also contributes to digital culture studies by showcasing how personal life narratives are constructed on video-sharing platforms like YouTube. Two themes emerged in the analysis. In the "Hoarder to Minimalist" narrative, narrators were once over-consuming hoarders and now minimalists. Minimalism facilitates discursive rejections and behavior disruptions of consumerism. The "transformational" stories, however, reinforcing the neoliberal sense of self that needs constant improvement. In the "Always been a Minimalist" narrative, narrators have always been frugal due to underprivileged social status. Minimalism empowers them by providing a set of vocabulary for recreating meanings. It, however, downplays the class divisions in capitalist society as merely an issue of "framing"; the struggles of lower social class people just need to be beautified as "minimalism."
doi:10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12085 fatcat:xxicfzmstbfzzp6xwe6thz2hm4