Alice Marwick is Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies, the Director of the McGannon Communication Research Center, and an academic affiliate at the Center for Law and Information Policy at Fordham University. Her work examines the legal, political, and social implications of popular social media technologies. She is the author of Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity and Branding in the Social Media Age (Yale 2013), an ethnography of the San Francisco tech scene which examines how people seek online status through attention and visibility. She has written for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Inquiry, Wired and The Guardian as well as many academic publications.
This presentation examines micro-celebrity, a labor practice undertaken by internet users to increase online attention and, subsequently, social status. Micro-celebrity is a self-presentation technique in which people view themselves as a public persona to be consumed by others, use strategic intimacy to appeal to followers, and regard their audience as fans. This presentation examines user status-seeking techniques on the popular photo-sharing mobile application Instagram: 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.