I have just spent several days poring through a crop of MA and PhD theses by postgraduates around the world who are studying cultures of internet celebrity, microcelebrity, and influencers. I was really excited by this steady stream of pre-published or soon-to-be published works on emergent and cutting-edge practices that have been so swiftly archived and analysed by these early career researchers.
If it is helpful, I list these references and their publicly-available links (mostly Open Access via the authors’ institutional repositories) below. If you have a thesis to add to the list, please feel free to comment. If you are nearly completing a thesis on any aspect of internet celebrity, I would love to hear from you (especially if you focus on cultures outside of the US and UK).
Here is a paragraph summarising this crop of theses, lifted from a forthcoming piece of mine to be published in December 2018 in ‘Abidin, Crystal, and Megan Lindsay Brown (eds). (forthcoming, 2018). Microcelebrity Around the Globe: Approaches to cultures of internet fame. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.’
“Focusing on how commerce and industry are impact microcelebrity-audience relations are Neal’s (2017) thesis on Instagram influencers and sponsorship, Mustonen’s (2017) thesis on YouTubers coming out to fan communities, Sedláček’s (2016) thesis on how YouTubers’ audiences are shifting away from TV practices, and Bruijn’s (2016) thesis on how YouTubers are negotiating a balance between commercialism and authenticity. Considering the cultures of microcelebrity on newer social media platforms are Gkoni et al.’s (2017) thesis on Snapchat and emoji use as ‘fam’ subcultures, Bingham’s (2017) thesis on practices of professionalism among Twitch microcelebrities, Blight’s (2016) thesis on community building across streaming platforms, and van de Put’s (2017) thesis on the process of becoming a celebrity on Musical.ly. Finally, looking outside of the Anglo-centric U.S. and Euro-centric U.K. are Bakke’s (2017) thesis on commercial bloggers in Norway, Meng’s (2014) and Wang’s (2017) theses looking at wanghong on Weibo in China, Meylinda’s (2017) thesis looking at beauty vlogs in South Korea, and Limkangvanmongkol’s (2018) thesis looking at beauty bloggers’ practices in Thailand. As newer cohorts of postgraduates and early career researchers delve deeper into the cultural and political complexities of microcelebrity practices in their parts of the world, one can be assured of generations of critical works on cultures of internet celebrity from around the globe.”
“for influencers to convince an audience that they are being authentic, it is not enough for them to merely show themselves without “artifice”: barefaced, with a bedhead, and in pajamas. Instead, they must actively juxtapose this stripped-down version of themselves against the median and normative self-presentations of glamour, to continually create and assign value to new markers — faults and flaws, failures and fiascos — to affirm the veracity of their truth-ness.”
“An audience is enticed into trying to evaluate and validate how genuine a persona is by following the feedback loop across the front stage of social media and the backstage of “real life,” through inconspicuous and scattered holes or gateways that were intentionally left as trails for the curious.”
On 11 April 2018, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Richelle Hunt of ABC Radio Melbourne on internet celebrity and Influencer cultures. 16:39 of our brain-making is below. With many thanks to producer Katy Gallichio for facilitating this.
In March, I had the pleasure of keynoting at the Brand Experience Through New Media Event at Aalto University, in a building that was really a luxurious Finnish spa resort masquerading as a place of higher learning.
Many many thanks to Miikka Lehtonen, Markus Ahola, and Tanja Sihvonen for the invitation and for pulling this together with your super efficient team and the unrivalled Finnish hospitality.
The event was held in Mordor with giant mustard bean bags and giant table lamps for the Cosiest Atmosphere At An Academic Event ever. I almost didn’t want the event to kickoff so that I could lounge in Mordor forever in my matching mustard sweater.
We ended the day with a 47:36 panel discussion and Q&A on Influencer cultures, featuring yours truly and Stina Varsikko of Splay, moderated by Miikka Lehtonen. Watch that goodness here:
I was invited to be on a podcast with the good people over at The Human Show, shedding light on what it is anthropologists actually do. Here is 35:32 of me dishing some brain foods on Influencers, youth cultures online, the place of platforms and traditional media in the age of internet celebrity, and the value of anthropology.
–04:39 on how we can practice participant observation on the internet
–06:17 on the value of Influencers beyond commerce
–10:30 on how Influencers and platforms impact each other
–18:36 on the relationship between Influencers and traditional media
–26:46 on whether young internet celebrities are just being exploited online
–28:23 on truth bombs about whether you should sign up for a PhD or work as a practitioner anthropologist
Includes gold nugget streams-of-consciousness such as:
“if you do decide to pursue academia, by doing a higher postgrad study, always keep your doors open. Don’t be the type of person who’s really confident that you’ll finish your PhD and be a professor and retire and then die, because those things do not exist anymore. At the same time, don’t be too despaired by all the quit lit that academia is a crazy space, because there are people who have found communities, who have found like-minded people who enjoy the work you do. And we do find ways to call out insecurities and inequalities as we see it to make this environment better for all of us who are living in it.”
I hope you enjoy it (and not hate my voice as much as I do).