A Force for Good? Digital Media, Positive Social Change and Transformative Practice

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Imagining Opportunities for Social Justice? Language and Identity Construction within Online Dwarfism Community Spaces

Abstract: The dwarfism population is both diverse and geographically dispersed (Kruse, 2001). The rarity of dwarfism amongst the general population has given rise to ‘niche’ online community spaces on social media platforms. This paper considers how the dwarfism community has constructed an online social media presence in order to resist and attempt to reconstruct discourses surrounding the societal representation and stigma of dwarfism (Goffman, 1963; Grant, 2016; Saville, 2018).

This paper examines how digital interactions are communicated through social media in order to drive forward positive social change. Another way to position this notion is to think about the opportunities for social justice within our everyday interactions, by disrupting in the moment the layers of social injustice. ‘Maybe seeking social justice is not only about seeking social justice, but about critiquing and interrupting the minute moments of social injustice that permeate our everyday identity performances, and hoping for a better tomorrow with others in our lives’ (Toyosaki and Pensoneau-Conway, 2013: 561).

Social justice activists within the community understand the need to form a collective if they are to influence societal change in the representation of dwarfism. However, terms are contested when referring to the condition as 1) a disability 2) a medical term 3) an identity. Currently debates around the language used to refer to people with dwarfism, such as ‘little people’ or ‘dwarfs’ is still a contested terrain within the dwarfism community (Adelson, 2005; Shakespeare et al., 2010). To gauge the divisiveness of language within the dwarfism community, consideration to the historical perception of people with dwarfism needs to be reflected upon. Throughout history society perceived people with dwarfism as neither human nor non-human. The hiatus in their position has forced the community to confront how they describe themselves. This paper examines this marginalised community as it attempts to shape and renegotiate language and identity in a 21st century digital age.
Period2 May 2019
Event typeConference
LocationNottinghamShow on map


  • Dwarfism
  • Dwarf
  • Social Justice
  • Twitter