On the Limits of Platform-Centric Research: YouTube, ASMR, and Affordance Bilingualism

Jessica Maddox


Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) has become a ubiquitous part of YouTube, and this research explores ASMR through the lens of affordance theory to help further define this visual social media culture. However, ASMR as a culture and community on YouTube flourishes despite platform intervention, structural affordances, and perceptions of the site’s technologies. Following a 3-year digital ethnography into ASMR on YouTube, I suggest these creator–viewer relationships are best understood through what I call affordance bilingualism: the dialectical interplay between producer and consumer. I invoke this as a heuristic and critical device—useful for social media researchers, particularly digital ethnographers, who seek to understand nuances and relationships within a content creation community, as well as how content is created and consumed with understanding the others’ positions.


ASMR, YouTube, affordances, digital ethnography, digital labor, perception, affordance bilingualism

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