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Why Study Pinterest? Making Dissonance into Research

Feminist researchers in the field of composition studies have responded to and reflected on the role of emerging online environments in the lives of women (Almjeld & Blair, 2012; Hawisher & Sullivan, 1997; Blair, Gajjala, & Tulley 2007). Many of these scholars recognize the need for innovative research methodologies that build on and rework traditional feminist approaches to knowledge-making.  In this this project, I explore these issues through the social media and visual discovery site, Pinterest.  An online environment used primarily by women, Pinterest invites feminist researchers to examine user data – both visual and alphabetic –  in order to better understand female composing practices online.  My argument emerges from a broader study of the roles of race, consumerism, class, and gender identity in this digital interface, in which I discovered that Pinterest itself can be a space for visual and qualitative data collection and coding.  This paper outlines how we can use Pinterest to enact a technofeminist research methodology and explores the larger role of consumer social media in emerging approaches to scholarship in our field.

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