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Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online

The face of internet celebrity is rapidly diversifying and evolving. Online and mainstream celebrity culture are now weaving together, such that breakout stars from one-hit viral videos are able to turn their transient fame into a full-time career. This book presents a framework for thinking about the different forms of internet celebrity that have emerged over the last decade, taking examples from the Global North and South, to consolidate key ideas about cultures of online fame. It discusses the overall landscape, developments and trends in the internet celebrity economy, and cross-cultural lessons.

Internet Celebrity_Chinese Flyer_01

網路名人的現象持續演化,並朝多元化方向發展。線上名人與過往的主流名人文化已密不可分地交織著。一支因病毒式行銷影片爆紅的人,甚至能把這樣的名氣轉換成一份全職的工作。 本書提供一個思考近十年不同型態網路紅人的架構,取材自全球南北各地,並試圖分析文化與線上名氣的關鍵概念。本書也討論網路名人的整體樣貌、發展、網紅經濟的趨勢,以及跨文化的課題。

Published 16 July 2018 in paperback and e-book.
EmeraldGoogle Books
ISBN: 9781787560796

Preview | Flyers in English & Chinese | Acknowledgements

Review copies, bulk purchases >> sbroadley[at]emeraldgroup[dot]com.
PR kit >> Katherine.Lowe[at]oppuk[dot]co[dot]uk.
Translation opportunities >> btaylor[at]emeraldgroup[dot]com.
Book tours, press enquiries >> crystalabidin[at]gmail[dot]com.


“A succulent collection of up to date and incisive contributions to the field of global micro-celebrity. It offers an impressive array of new ideas and arguments to help us to understand and research one of the characteristic developments of our time.”
–Chris Rojek, Professor of Sociology, City, University of London

“Crystal Abidin has produced a most useful book. It brings our understanding of internet celebrity right up to date, and does so with an exemplary attention to its proliferating diversity of form, content, structure and location.”
–Graeme Turner, University of Queensland

“Teachers: want your celebrity lectures to reflect developments on YouTube, Instagram and Twitch? This is your book. Students: want a way to link theories of branding, taste, and authenticity to stories about viral memes, extreme eating channels, and “buying likes”? This is your book. All Readers: Want a globally-focused primer on an emergent entertainment phenomenon that is as (at times) as baffling as it is (at times) lucrative? This is definitely your book.”
–Dr. Theresa M. Senft, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia

“Abidin’s book provides a welcome and engaging contribution to a rapidly developing field, and it will be indeed of interest not just to an academic audience but to general readers as well.”
–European Journal of Communication

“Abidin’s writing demonstrated a balance of playfulness and seriousness in unpacking Internet zeitgeist… Suffice it to say that Abidin’s ability to create global frameworks to effectively study the multifaceted dimensions of Internet celebrity and explain them succinctly and clearly greatly surpassed my expectations of a scholarly work of this length.”
–Media International Australia

“I found this book by Crystal Abidin extremely interesting as well as informative; I didn’t put it down once… This book really highlights the impact of new media on society, so much so that it might shock readers into thinking about how they use and consume modern media and so-called ‘internet celebrities’.”
–The National Student



  • Reviewed in 批判传播学 (2020) <Article>
  • Reviewed in Medienwissenschaft 2(2019) <Article>
  • Reviewed in Media International Australia, online first <Article>
  • Interviewed in CaMP Anthropology, 13 May 2019. <Article>
  • Reviewed in European Journal of Communication 33(6): 696-697. <Article>
  • Reviewed in Cleveland Review of Books, 21 September 2018. <Article>
  • Reviewed in The National Student, 11 September 2018. <Article>
  • Reviewed in Times Higher Education, 9 August 2018. <Article>
  • Reviewed in Compass Points, 3 August 2018. <Article>


  • “What you need to know about the rapidly changing world of internet celebrity.” Huffington Post, 25 September 2018. <Article>
  • “Shadow Economies Of The Influencer Industry.” Minute Hack, 19 September 2018. <Article>
  • “What is an internet celebrity anyway?” Cyborgology, 13 September 2018. <Article>
  • “5 Misconceptions about internet celebrities by Crystal Abidin.” Female First, 31 July 2018. <Article>


  • “Förstå influencer-industrin!” Frukostseminarium med Handelsrådet, Handelsrådet, Stockholm. 28 March 2019. <Video>
  • “Cultures of Internet Celebrity on Youtube – Crystal Abidin (keynote).” Aalto University, Helsinki. 23 March 2018. <Video>


  • “Brand Experience Through New Media: Youtube Influencers and Social Media Celebrities – Panel (keynote panelist).” Aalto University, Helsinki. 23 March 2018. <Video>
  • “Interdisciplinary Social Media: Social Influencers.” University of Sydney, Sydney. 17 October 2017. <Video>


  • “Om VIKTEN av ATT VÄLJA INFLUENCER med omsorg.” Handelsrådet, Stockholm. 28 March 2019. <Clip>
  • “Wie wird man eigentlich #InfluencerIn?” Universität Siegen, Siegen. 20 March 2019. <Clip>
  • “Interview with Dr. Crystal Abidin from #AoIR2017.” Association of Internet Researchers, Tartu6 December 2017. <Video>


  • “Crystal Abidin, Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online, Emerald Publishing 2018.” New Books Network, 29 April 2019. <Podcast>
  • “SocietyNow: Why study ‘frivolous’ topics like internet celebrity and selfie culture?” Emerald Publishing, 15 June 2018. <Podcast>
  • “Internet celebrity and Influencer cultures.” Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio Melbourne, 11 April 2018. <Audio>
  • “Crystal Abidin: Influencers, Youth Online and the Intersections of Social Media and Traditional Media.” The Human Show, 27 March 2018. <Podcast>
  • “How social media videos turn children into viral sensations.” Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio National (RN), 11 September 2017. <Audio>
  • “Business Briefing: the ‘get rich quick scheme’ influencing what you buy.” The Conversation, 25 August 2017. <Audio>


  • 28 March 2019: “Understanding the Influencer Industry.” Research Breakfast Seminar Series, Handelsrådet, Stockholm. <Link>
  • 14 March 2019: “Cultures on the internet, Instagram, and Influencer marketing.” TEX! Annual Meeting, Textile Fashion Center, Borås. <Link>
  • Abidin, Crystal, and Natasha Sayer. 2019. “Understanding the Influencer industry.” Media City Bergen, Bergen. March 11, 2019. <Link | Link | Register>
  • 19 February 2019: “How to Engage with the Influencer Industry.” Transform to AAA Lecture Series, Science Park Jönköping, Jönköping. <Register | Link>
  • 23 November 2018. “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore. <EventRegister>
  • 23 November 2018. “For the ‘gram and off the cam: Young people’s cultures on Instagram.” Gifted Education Annual Conference 2018, Ministry of Education (Singapore), Raffles Institution, Singapore.
  • 16 November 2018. “Influencers and the materiality of youth digital cultures in Singapore.” Youth Futures: Belonging and Connections, Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University, Melbourne. <Link | Tickets | Abstract>
  • 30 October 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Public Lecture, Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University, Birmingham. <Register>
  • 29 October 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Book tour, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics, London.
  • 28 October 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” MozFest Weekend, London.
  • 26 October 2016: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” School of Media, University of Brighton, Brighton.
  • 25 October 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Public Lecture, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield. <Event>
  • 24 October 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Public Lecture, Faculty of Arts, University of Nottingham, Nottingham. <Event>
  • 23 October 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Public Lecture, London College of Communication, University of Arts London, London. <Event| Register>
  • 22 October 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Industry talk, Facebook HQ, New York City.
  • 09 October 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Book tour, Department of Sociology & Department of Communication, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal. <Event>
  • 05 October 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Perspectives from East Asia.” Guest Lecture, Department of Media and Communication, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen.
  • 04 October 2018: “Hook ups, Make ups, and Break ups: Influencer couplings as digital estates.” Workshop, Department of Digital Design, IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen.
  • 04 October 2018: “Small screen fame: Cultures of internet celebrity.” Guest Lecture, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen. <Event | About>
  • 03 October 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Public Lecture, Department of Digital Design, IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen. <Event>
  • 26 September 2018: “Pre-industries of influencer commerce: Blogshops, knock-off culture, and circuits of aspirational knowledge.” Guest Lecture, Textile Management, Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås, Borås.
  • 26 September 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Research Seminar, Textile Management, Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås, Borås.
  • 25 September 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Public Lecture, Department of Communication, Roskilde University, Roskilde.
  • 25 September 2018: “Influencers and Everyday Intimacies.” Social Media Intimacy and Everyday Life Unit, Communication Studies, Roskilde University, Roskilde. <Event>
  • 18 September 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Higher Seminar Series, Department of Media and Communication Studies, Södertörn University, Stockholm. <Event>
  • 10 September 2018. “Influencer cultures.” A socio-cultural approach to producers and consumers in the digital age, Digital Business Unit, JIBS, Jönköping University, September 10, 2018.
  • 05 September 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Seminar Series, Department of Media and Communication, Lund University, Lund. <Abstract>
  • 23 August 2018: “Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online.” Digital Methods Summer School, University of Tartu, Tartu. <Event>
  • 01 June 2018: “Tap that, Hack that, Map that: Economies, Cultures, and Materialites of Instagram.” Instagram Conference 2018, London. <Link | Abstract>
  • 01 May 2018: “The Influencer Industy: Histories, economics, and cultures.” Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne. <Register | Abstract>
  • 27 April 2018: “The Next Generation.” Theorizing the Web, New York. <Video | Link | Link>
  • 21 March 2018: “From internet celebrities to Influencers.” MMTC Research Seminars, Jönköping.
  • 15 March 2018: “Cultures of internet celebrity on YouTube.” Brand Experience through New Media. Aalto University & Vaasa University, Helsinki. <Register | Link | Video 01 | Video 02>
  • 22 January 2018: “Internet celebrities and the mainstream press in the age of viral media.” CCAT Seminar Series, Perth. <Abstract>


List of Illustrations

CHAPTER ONE: What is an Internet Celebrity Anyway?
>A brief history of internet celebrity
>What about traditional celebrities on the internet?

CHAPTER TWO: Qualities of Internet Celebrity

CHAPTER THREE: Internet Celebrity and Traditional Media
>Eyewitness viral stars
>Meme personalities
>Spotted and groomed investments
>Crowd-puller cameos
>Weaponized microcelebrity

CHAPTER FOUR: From Internet Celebrities to Influencers
>Architecture of the Influencer industry
>Shadow economies of the Influencer industry
>Global implications of the Influencer industry
>Recent shifts in the Influencer industry

Further Reading


A humble request: It is always an anxious exercise putting ideas into words, words onto paper, and paper into book form for the world to see. It would be a romantic experiment to watch this little book roam across places akin to the folklore of the traveling garden gnome, so please allow me to trace this journey by sending me your digital postcards, i.e. photographs of this text “in the wild”, to be catalogued here.

This page was last updated on 19 June 2020.