(Selfie)ishness: using the I-It/I-Thou distinction to parse an ethics of self-portraiture

Serena C. Lin, Miles C. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Martin Buber’s I-It/I-Thou distinction is presented in this article as a useful analytic framework for approaching the ethics of self-portraiture without unnecessarily falling back on the (not always helpful) psychological term of narcissism. The result of the application of Buber’s I-It/I-Thou to self-portraiture will reveal that, while some acts can represent the sort of championing of the self over others that we find worrisome in selfies, this is not productively discovered with the language of narcissism. Instead of looking for self-focus as the locus of ethics, the framework of Buber’s I-It/I-Thou asks that analysts look for the legitimacy of the second-personal demands that an instance of selfie-taking places on other persons. Implications to communication ethics are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-438
Number of pages10
JournalConsumption Markets and Culture
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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