This study investigates TikTok audios and hashtags through the lens of digital literacy studies, using Ron Scollon's nexus of practice as a theoretical framework. The researcher sought to investigate literacy practices on TikTok, such as how lurkers and posters interact with the app in ways that both define and are defined by their individual identities. Relative to other social media platforms, there is a dearth of research on TikTok. This study contributes to the gap while also building off the findings of Kaye et al., who investigated authorship and (mis)attribution on the app, and Sachs et al.'s claim that Goffman's metaphorical front stage is weakening as users are able to select audiences for identity performance on TikTok. Through ethnographic semi-structured interviews and textual analysis, the researcher found that hashtags and audios work in tandem on TikTok; both hashtags and audios work to traditionally sort videos for users, hashtags offer creators an additional boost to their views, and audios act as an additional sorting mechanism. Furthermore, the study found evidence that audios signal a video's content prior to viewing. The findings additionally opposed Sachs et al.'s claim about the front stage weakening; rather, the participants were acutely aware of the “mortifying ordeal of being known,” with TikTok allowing users to have multiple “front stages'' to perform different aspects of themselves on, while still keeping certain parts to the “backstage.”

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Schneier, Joel


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities


Writing and Rhetoric



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date