Crafting a Space: A Feminist Analysis of the Relationship Between Women, Craft, Business and Technology on Etsy.com
Author(s)Offensend, Elizabeth Gillette
Internet marketing -- Social aspects
Electronic commerce -- Social aspects
Art and Design
Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
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AbstractIn recent years, craft fairs, shows and markets where crafters sell their handmade goods such as pottery, jewelry, handmade clothes and needlework have grown in popularity across the United States. A common intent among individuals in this community echo political statements made by the turn of the century Arts and Crafts movement, while there are political aspects of the community that can also be seen as an extension of the third wave feminist do-it-yourself (DIY) ethic of the late 1990s. This newly enlarged community of crafters that congregates in person also has a strong online presence. Etsy.com plays a large role in this community. The introduction of websites such as Etsy.com to the communities they serve has widespread impacts. The aim of this study is to analyze how Etsy.com impacts the lives of women who use the website to earn income. Following ethnographic traditions, the researcher interviewed five community members. The focus was on thick description of the DIY community and thematization of interview narratives. To meet participant observation criteria, the researcher also volunteered at the Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) in Portland, Oregon for 4 months. Additionally, the researcher conducted a textual analysis of blogs, websites, artwork, and other sources of data collected from the online hand crafting community. The study presents and discusses the themes that emerged from the data, including women's work, feminism and technology, the crafters' political statements, the crafters as owners of legitimate businesses, and Etsy.com's impact on local economy. The results paint a picture of the community (both on and offline) and how Etsy.com helps to shape this. The researcher then discusses how to assess the impacts tools such as community websites will have on the communities they serve.