[iDC] Introductions - Alice Marwick

Alice E. Marwick amarwick at gmail.com
Fri Sep 19 18:05:22 UTC 2014

Hi all,

I think I introduced myself previously, but there are lots of new people so
I will say hello!

I am an Assistant Professor in Communication and Media Studies at Fordham
University, and the director of the McGannon Center for Communication
Research. I am most interested in the labor that goes into
self-presentation and self-maintenance strategies online, from impression
management to curation to photo editing. The question that guides my work
is: *what impact do the large audiences made possible by social media
technologies have on individuals and communities? *In other words, when
average people can potentially command audiences previously only available
to politicians or celebrities, how does that affect subjectivity, identity
presentation, and social interaction?

Last year I published a book, *Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity and
Branding in the Social Media Age *(YUP 2013)*, *which investigated three
self-presentation strategies that people engage in to increase their
attention and, subsequently, their social status. I identified these
techniques—self-branding, micro-celebrity, and life-streaming—as forms of
immaterial, emotional labor which are increasingly compulsory for many
white-collar workers yet nudge individuals into subjectivities that fit the
neoliberal enterprise. Through investigating such online self-promoters as
technology workers, fashion bloggers, “traditional” celebrities, and those
who are famous on sites like Instagram and Twitter, I have spent much time
looking at a range of practices and strategies that individuals use to
boost their popularity online. Framing this as labor makes it quite clear
that such tactics are (usually unpaid) work, with the attendant costs and
benefits, and neatly fit within a neoliberal context which encourages
individuals to “take responsibility” for skill development, cultural fit in
the workplace, and self-promotion.

At the conference I'll be talking about micro-celebrity as labor on the
mobile photo-sharing application Instagram. I identify two user
status-seeking techniques : visual labor, in which photographs are curated,
staged, and manipulated to appeal to an audience, and promotional labor, in
which users engage in a variety of strategies and tactics to increase
“likes” and “followers”. This unpaid and often emotional labor links
self-presentation and subjectivity to neoliberal conceptions of the
enterprising self.

Looking forward to meeting everyone in person!


Alice E. Marwick, PhD
Director, McGannon Center
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Media Studies
Fordham University
amarwick at fordham.edu

Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity & Branding in the Social Media Age
available from Yale Press
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