Mia Halonen

Social media performances

Mia Halonen is a researcher at the Centre for Applied Language Studies. Her areas of interests range from relations of (language) ideologies and semiotic practices to sociophonetics and sociolinguistics of popular cultures. In (Dis)identification in social media -project, she explores social media as complex spaces for interaction and performances. Performances are understood as social actions of presenting and staging oneself and, at the same time, of Others. The research draws especially on the conceptualisations of performances by Goffman (1959 and 1981), Butler (1993), Bauman and Briggs (1990) and Rampton (2006).

The main empirical data are Pissis girl performances in various social media spaces. Pissis form a social group highly ambiguous in their perception, performing ‘certain type of femininity’ – both admired and despised. The girls can be compared for example to Californian ‘Valley girls’ (Eckert 2008), American ‘Betches’ (Williams 2012) or Mexican ‘Fresas’ (Mendoza-Denton 2008). The empirical focus is on how the performances and interaction in and around the data form a complex nest of participation where various entextualised and resemiotised resources and indexes of Pissisness come in clusters. (Halonen in press; Vaattovaara & Halonen forthc.). Phenomena in social media are studied by doing multisited ethnography (Marcus 1995; Halonen, Ihalainen & Saarinen 2014) of discourses of and around them – the rhizomatic, complex and intertwined actions in various spaces in (social) media. In progress publications include for example themes like Pissis fictional stories, Pissis girls as part of the historical trajectory of myth of sound “Helsinki /s/” and the life span of a viral Pissis video clip.


  • Bauman, Richard – Briggs, Charles L. 1990. Poetics and performance as critical perspectives on language and social life. Annual Review of Anthropology 19: 59–88.
  • Butler, Judith 1999. Gender Trouble: Tenth Anniversary Edition. London: Routledge.
  • Eckert, Penelope 2008. Variation and the indexical field. – Journal of Sociolinguistics 12 (4), 453–476.
  • Goffman, Erving 1959. Presentation of self in everyday life. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • Goffman, Erving 1981. Forms of talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Halonen, Mia in press. Social media landscapes: Tracing the uses and functions of a hybrid sign. In Mikko Laitinen & Anastassia Zabrodskaja (eds.), Dimensions of linguistic landscapes in Europe: Materials and methodological solutions. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
  • Mendoza-Denton, Norma 2008. Homegirls. Language and cultural practice among Latina youth gangs. Malden (US): Blackwell Publishing.
  • Rampton, Ben 2006. Language in Late Modernity. Interaction in an urban school. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Vaattovaara, Johanna – Halonen, Mia in press. ’Helsinkiläisen ässän’ ’stadilaisuus’. [’The Helsinkian s’ as an index of ’Stadi’.] In Heini Lehtonen, Anu Rouhikoski & Marja-Leena Sorjonen (eds.), Helsingissä puhuttavat suomet: Kielen indeksisyys ja identiteetit. [Helsinki Finnishes: Indexicality and identities.] Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.
  • Williams, Ashley H. 2012. How to be a perfect ‘betch’: The discursive construction & display of gender ideologies. – Unpublished paper presentation in Sociolinguistic Symposium 19, Berlin.