Racking Up The Twitter Points: How Professional Hockey Player Identities Are Affected By Twitter Usage

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Jinnah, Naila
Twitter , Labour , National Hockey League , Identity , Athletic Identity , Digital Fandom , Performance , Goffman , Foucault , Social Media , Grounded Theory , Colby Armstrong , Professional Sport , Blake Geoffrion , Montreal Canadiens , Celebrity Culture
In this thesis, I examine the use of Twitter by NHL athletes to determine how and in what ways professional hockey players’ personal and professional identities are shaped by their use of this medium. I explore the current cultural moment surrounding the lives of NHL athletes, focusing on the increasingly blurred line between their private and professional identities. By grounding my analysis of their Twitter use in a new labour context that is academically situated betwixt the literatures on media studies, celebrity culture and identity presentation, I show that participation in this medium allows both athletes and fans to actively reshape their own and each others’ identities, constructing a new set of standards for professional hockey players that takes into consideration the heightened demand for access to the behind-the-scenes of their lives. The ability of professional hockey players to interact with fans and media on Twitter is also creating new types relationships and producing new discourses for the typical hockey player identity, and the labour this career involves. Finally, through interviews with NHL players, I draw out their motives for using Twitter, their understanding of the impact of their interaction with fans on the perceptions those fans have of their professional identity, and their desire for work-life balance as their professional and personal identities seemingly merge on Twitter in a postmodern labour context fuelled by heightened celebrity culture.
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