Offering Hope and Making Attributions through YouTube: An Exploratory Ethnographic Content Analysis of the Social Change-Oriented “It Gets Better Project”

Laurie M. Phillips


In response to multiple youth suicides, Dan Savage and Terry Miller founded a YouTube channel that later became the It Gets Better Project (IGBP). The ever-growing corpus of IGBP videos now includes over 50,000 “messages of hope” targeting at-risk LGBTQ and questioning youth. Employing Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA) and the theoretical lens of attribution, this study offers insight into how LGBTQ bullying and harassment are discussed in the IGBP and to what they are internally and externally attributed. Findings revealed external attributions were more prevalent than internal attributions pertaining to types of harassment and bullying experienced as well as explanations of how “it gets better,” with a focus on institutions as both the cause of and remedy for bullying and harassment.


Ethnographic Content Analysis; ECA; attribution; YouTube; social change; LGBTQ; It Gets Better Project; IGBP; suicide

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