The Coder, The Fan and The Fun One: Imagined Girls, Digital Capitalism and Neoliberalism

October 17, 2019

Dr. Natalie Coulter
York University - Department of Communication Studies

The girl figure performs multiple roles in the contemporary moment of digital capitalism and in consumer culture as she is a discursive formation onto which social anxieties and debates are often inscribed. The purpose of this paper is to explore three of these roles of the girl, a) the fun girl whose happiness depoliticizes consumption, b) the coding girl whose learning reconfirms a digital future and c) the fan girl whose passions reshape definitions of creative labour. In this paper I will draw upon the work of critical youth studies that contends that young people are the harbingers of the anxieties of contemporary social order. As well as feminist scholarship that emphasizes how the imaginings of the girls are enveloped within the neoliberal context and how girlhood is implicated with a post-feminist subjectivity premised upon a relentless individualism, a sense of self entitlement and that modes of self-expression are articulated through the consumer marketplace (Banet-Wiser 2015; Gill 2018). Finally, I will conclude with my current research with 24 young tween girls and how they responded to such imaginings.


Dr. Natalie Coulter’s research interests are in girls’ studies, critical advertising studies, and the media of children and young people. She is a founding member of ARCYP (Association for Research on the Cultures of Young People). She presently has two research projects underway, one on the history of children’s cultural industries in Canada, and another on the embodied tween, living girlhood in global and digital spaces.

photo of Dr. Natalie Coulter