#Cancelled: A qualitative content analysis of cancel culture in the YouTube beauty community

Femke Geusens, Gaëlle Ouvrein, Soetkin Remen

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A new form of social activism, known as cancel culture, is emerging online. This concept originally referred to forms of calling out others to educate them on the inappropriateness of certain statements and behaviors, but it is now often criticized for being too extreme and unforgiving. In this study we investigated the overt and covert motivations drama and commentary channels provide to discuss the cancellation of five high-profile YouTubers within the beauty community (i.e., James Charles, Tati Westbrook, Nikita Dragun, Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson), one of the largest and most competitive communities on YouTube. For each cancelled beauty guru, we selected the 10 most-watched videos discussing the cancellation. These videos were uploaded by commentator channels and the cancelled beauty influencers themselves. Because some videos discussed multiple cancellations in one video, a total of 41 videos were analyzed through thorough textual reading. This analysis demonstrated that beauty gurus are called out for issues with the products they are selling, as well as for more serious allegations of homophobia, racism and sexual misconduct. However, we also found that there was often an underlying motivation of jealousy, conflicting business interests or simply not liking a person for calling them out. We conclude that although cancellations are often presented as a means to achieve social justice, the truth is also that influencers stir up drama out of jealousy or commercial interest.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalThe Social Science Journal
Issue numberntb
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023

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© 2023 Western Social Science Association.


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