The Social Oikos

Examining Arendt's Concept of a Public-Private Divide through the Lens of a YouTube Vlog


  • Michael Lee Humphrey Colorado State University, USA



Hannah Arendt, social, private sphere, YouTube, family vlogs, race-based persona disparities


In one of the foundational articles of persona studies, Marshall and Barbour (2015) look to Hannah Arendt for development of a key concept within the larger persona framework: “Arendt saw the need to construct clear and separate public and private identities. What can be discerned from this understanding of the public and the private is a nuanced sense of the significance of persona: the presentation of the self for public comportment and expression” (2015, p. 3). But as far back as the ancient world from which Arendt draws her insights, the affordance of persona was not evenly distributed. As Gines (2014) argues, the realm of the household, oikos, was a space of subjugation of those who were forced to be “private,” tending to the necessities of life, while others were privileged with life in the public at their expense. To demonstrate the core points of this essay, I use textual analysis of a YouTube family vlog, featuring a Black mother in the United States, whose persona rapidly changed after she and her White husband divorced. By critically examining Arendt’s concepts around public, private, and social, a more nuanced understanding of how personas are formed in unjust cultures can help us theorize persona studies in more egalitarian and robust ways.


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Author Biography

  • Michael Lee Humphrey, Colorado State University, USA

    Michael Humphrey is an instructor at Colorado State University. a longtime journalist, he also covers social media and technology for Forbes.


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How to Cite

The Social Oikos: Examining Arendt’s Concept of a Public-Private Divide through the Lens of a YouTube Vlog. (2021). Persona Studies, 7(1), 20-32.