"True Handmade": Exploring the negotiations over the subcultural ideology of authenticity within the Etsy community.
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This thesis examines the status of the indie craft movement as a subculture, and its articulation within online communities. Whilst the study of subcultures has traditionally focussed on youth based movements within face-to-face environments, the indie craft subculture appeals to a wide range of age groups, and is largely practised within online, virtual communities. Online, it is difficult to judge subcultural "authenticity" according to style or looks; therefore judgements are often made according to how an individual embodies the ideology of a certain subculture. Through examining the notion of "authenticity", this study demonstrates that the ideology of authenticity, which can be identified within the online indie craft community, is rooted in a specific interpretation of the “handmade” notion. By undertaking an “ideology analysis” (Van Dijk 1995) of a conflict that occurred within the popular crafting site, Etsy, in October 2013, this thesis explores how the notion of “handmade” was negotiated by the various stakeholders within the Etsy community. This study concludes that the Etsy website is an active site for subcultural practice, but that the October 2013 conflict revealed how the differences in the perceived ideology of authenticity of the “handmade” notion have caused divisions between the site’s stakeholders, the long term impact of which is uncertain.