Tuesday, March 10, 2015

And more presentations from late in 2014: Wuhan, Hong Kong, Paris... oh my!

There is no question. 2014 was a remarkable year. It was absolutely filled with travel. And through that travel, I was privileged to be able to give a series of talks, lectures and keynote addresses. In previous posts, I have talked about and provided some details about my talks at Deakin, Vancouver, and London; but I didn't quite get to some of the most intriguing series of talks that I gave in China, Hong Kong and Paris towards the end of the year.

Each of these trips, I am deeply indebted to my hosts. I met some very interesting students and researchers and was permitted to explore the universities and cities on each of these adventures. In fact, my hosts were also responsible for being my guides on these adventures. There is no question that the series of talks allowed me to explore further dimensions around my work on persona and Persona Studies.  It also gave me some of the best opportunities to see if these ideas make sense in these quite different parts of the world.

I am going to try and summarize these trips and the talks that I gave in October and November last year in the rest of this post.

Central China Normal University - Wuhan, China

I have to preface these remarks that I had never really been to China before this trip. I had had stopovers in Shanghai, but I think I am in good company that other than the painful waits at airports and perhaps customs, these do not count as countries that I have visited.  In October, I was invited by Central China Normal University to be one of their four Keynote Speakers for a major international conference on Cultural and Technological Innovation and Development of the Cultural Industries. The hosts within the university were  from the National Research Centre for the Cultural Industries. It was a provocative subject and a challenge for me to think of how my research on persona shapes the cultural industries.  My Keynote presentation I think was well-received and for some at least was able to identify the links between individual construction, both industrial and otherwise, and collective constructions. Here is its Prezi - with the Anonymous-Guy Fawkes mask privileged. The link to the Prezi is also just below.

"Persona in the Creative Industries: Cultural and Industrial Patterns and the Contemporary Interplay of the Collective and the Individual”  Keynote Address, International Conference on Cultural and Technological Innovation and Development of Cultural Industries: CCNU, Wuhan China, 12 -13 October 2014. Prezi available at: http://prezi.com/_pniipkmmhte/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy
   
    The very next day, I presented to very full room (75 at least) of researchers and graduate students connected to the Centre.  The talk served to explain one of my key terms - Intercommunication - more fully and link it to industrial patterns as well as the concept of the public persona. The Prezi, as displayed below, generated some very interesting discussions with the students and researchers in the Centre. It also is a useful document for me and saves me sometimes re-explaining some of my key concepts. I hope it gets many views and of course, perhaps people will go on to read my academic articles once their interest is piqued by these presentations.

“ "The Intercommunication Industries and the generation of a new era of public personas”. Public Lecture, National Research Centre for the Cultural Industries, CCNU, Wuhan, China, 14 October, 2014








The following day, I was invited to give a public lecture to the School of Journalism and Communication. Again, it was a massive crowd and by my basic reckoning was over 150 people composed of faculty, graduate students and undergraduates. I had a wonderful dinner with three of the students and the Associate Professor Junfeng Chen. My host for the evening was the DeputyDean of the School, Peng Tao who provided a delightful introduction and had his students simultaneously translate my talk and their questions. My focus in this talk was more on celebrity and my presentation made it clear that there is some major comparative research to be done how celebrity and public persona operates in China and how that is both related to and distinctively different from the way it has operated in places such as Australia, North america and Europe. Below is the link to the Prezi and the provocative talk. I think my background image captured the constant reconstruction of public identity that we engage with and that our culture has produced over the last two centuries.

"Modelling of the Self: Celebrity, Media and the formation of Reputation and Persona”, Public Lecture, School of Journalism and Communication, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China,  15 October, 2014. Prezi available at: http://prezi.com/0rn4v2arc_nn/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share



There are many people to thank:
My guide and translator Jingyao, a graduate student in the NRCCI and my English translator;
All the people I met in the NRCCI, including Dr Song Yi, and  Professor Huang Yonglin who took me out to some amazing dinners and lunches throughout my stay;
And the entire School of Journalism and Communication: you were all wonderful hosts.  From the International Office, I would also like to thank the generosity of ShaoRen (Bunny) who kept it all together throughout my stay.



The University of Hong Kong - Hong Kong


Two doctoral students, Mei Zhang and Ching-fang Chang, were instrumental in arranging my visit and my talks at the University of Hong Kong in late October 2014.  The conference had been delayed several times due to the street protests and Yellow Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. I had the fortune to visit the Admiralty site of the protest and was quite amazed at the intensity of the social media as well as the incredible activities and support on the street.  
 

The actual conference brought together a number of scholars and researchers into the domain of the study of personalities and institutions and how value - economic and other forms of value - were created and constructed around these entities. There is no question that based on my two hosts and other research I observed there is an incredible amount of interesting ethnographic research emerging in studying the position of pop idols, popular museums and what my host Dixon Wong would call the global creative industries side of consumer anthropological investigations. I began the conference with the following keynote. As you can see from the images of my presentation, I was quite animated and continued my hand gesticulations with force. Below is the link to the Prezi presentation.


 

"Constructing the Public Self: Online Reputation and the Personification of Value”, Keynote Address,  International Conference of Commerce, Production and Markets in Creative Industries, University of Hong Kong,  25 October 2014.  Prezi available at: http://prezi.com/fwwqhhiy7jnp/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share


 Professor Dixon Wong also invited me to give a guest lecture the day before the conference to his  class that would give them some idea of the connection to my writing on celebrity and the contemporary moment of the presentational cultural regime.  The students were engaged with the material and worked to position the discussion both in a global context and in a comparative local structure.  My Prezi for that talk is below with, of course, a link if you want to peruse that content more closely.
 “The Emerging Presentational Media/Cultural Regime: the Implications for cultural policy in the era of the Intercommunications Industries”, Public Lecture, Department of Modern Languages and Culture, 24 October 2014. Prezi available at: http://prezi.com/r-gwfva_zcvl/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

With the emergence of a new Global Creative Industries program launching at the University of Hong Kong, there is no question I will be visiting and engaging with the exciting research emerging in this hotbed of activity.  The link between consumer anthropological research and the directions in persona studies presents further forms of international collaboration which need fostering.

The Sorbonne Nouvelle - 3, Paris, France

 Associate Professor Jamil Dakhlia (thank you!) worked very hard at ensuring that I also had the privilege of giving two very significant talks in Paris in November 2014.  The first of these, I was part of the  Media Industries Distinguished Speakers Series connected to the L’Ecole Doctorale Arts & Médias (ED 267) de l’Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3.  My host was Jamil of course, but also Raphaëlle Moine, Professor of Cinema and the Director of the doctoral program in Arts and media.  This presentation and the one that followed at the CNRS identify my provisional and building work on professional identity and very particularly the way that mediatized identity intersects with online persona.  I also had the opportunity to meet many researchers during my week in Paris, including Nathalie Heinich who has written some of the most important works that relate to celebrity culture and art. Her term - the process of "singularization" is particularly useful to understand the concentrated efforts of institutions and individuals have undertaken to produce public identities. De la visibilite (2012)and her original and translated The Glory of Van Gogh (1997) are worth exploring.
In addition, the work of Jamil Dakhlia is also of great value: Politique People and

Mythologie de la peopolisation (2010)  both will inform you on the relationship of celebrity and journalism as well as an insight into the French use of the English world "people" and its derogation of value around the popular. Below are the presentations and the prezi link to these two talks in Paris. The background image of the second talk you may notice is a crowd scene I took of the Hong Kong protests where the mediatization of the self was in full force.


 
"Professional Public Identity: The Migration of Persona in Contemporary Culture”, Sorbonne 3  Media Industries Distinguished Speakers Series: Paris, France: 20 November 2014. Prezi available at: http://prezi.com/gbjyafn1doh3/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy





"Mediatising Identity”
Public Lecture at: CNRS en Communication research centre, Paris, France: 26 November 2014. Prezi available at: http://prezi.com/0gwqpvyg-xrp/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy











New events and new publications are appearing already in 2015. My next post will deal with some of  my recent articles and book chapters.  As well, the first issue of the very important Persona Studies Journal will be out in late March. More about this event on this site and on www.personastudies.com.

Also upcoming are the Mask conference in Bathurst NSW where I am both giving a Keynote presentation and a research workshop and the major event at the University of Tokyo in Julythat I will talk about more ....

Friday, September 26, 2014

Part Three - Publications and presentations Update - presentations and media interviews


Sometimes I deliver the content of my work in a variety of ways. For instance, usually when I am giving a conference paper or address, I tend to use prezi.  So, if you have this program or application or have signed on to its service, these presentations with all their remarkable visual material are there to see.  In some ways, I think we need to start thinking about how this structure of presentation can be gathered into a different kind of publication.... Here are some of my presentations from this year. I have a few more Keynotes in October and I will try and post those as they arise.


When the Private becomes Public: Commodity Activism, endorsement and making meaning in a Privatized World


When the Private becomes Public: Commodity Activism, endorsement and making meaning in a privatized world”, Contemporary Publics International Symposium, 24- 25 February 2014, Deakin University. Prezi of paper at: http://prezi.com/cqvwp9oadgao/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy
This presentation describes a transformed public world that allows the private public person to move through the boundaries of what in the past was public and political activism. These lines of activity where the private takes over the public world have a long history of connection through boycotts and even as Banet-Weiser describes as the consumer subjectivity at that core of the civil rights movement in the US, but this presentation works to articulate this subtle and expanding structure of a privatized public discourse at least partially expressed through celebrities.

Constructing the Intimate Public: Public Persona and the bifurcation of representation and presentation in contemporary political campaigns



“Constructing the Intimate Public: Public Persona and the bifurcation of representation and presentation in contemporary political campaigns” Contemporary Publics International Symposium, 24 - 25 February 2014, Deakin University.
Prezi available at: http://prezi.com/qq8ay65yynbt/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy
This is  a development of how politics is transforming under new forms of parasocial connection that are most prominent in major political campaigns such as Obama's recent presidential campaigns and Kevin Rudd's work in Australian political campaigns.

Persona as method: exploring celebrity and the public self through persona studies

“Persona as method: exploring celebrity and the public self through persona studies’ approaches” (with Kim Barbour and Chris Moore) Celebrity Studies 2nd International Conference, London, 19-21 June 2014 Royal Holloway University of London.
Prezi available at: http://prezi.com/3bqhnkautfxt/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy  This presentation maps out three approaches to the study of persona - the employment of Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis in interview ethnography, digital visual analysis of the representation of the self, and an adaptation of "prosopography" to map reputation in the contemporary moment within networks and communities. 


“Real/Reel Politics and Popular Culture” (with Sally Totman), Celebrity Studies 2nd International Conference, London, 19-21 June 2014 Royal Holloway University of London. Sorry no prezi to link to, but an incredible presentation. Look for its content to appear in a book related to politics, popular culture, scandal and leadership...

Public Image Limited: Endorsements and the constructed public persona of the perfume industry
“Public Image Limited: Endorsements and the constructed public persona of the perfume industry”, Celebrity Studies 2nd International Conference, London, 19-21 June 2014, Royal Holloway University of London. Prezi:
are  This presentation mapping the intentions for the public personality to be associated with highly stylized - and usually beautiful - constructions of themselves. Beyond the economic benefits, these moves articulate forms of public control of image as much as the commodification of the self into a product.


Intercommunication and Persona: The Intercommunicative Public Self

“Intercommunication and Persona: Intercommunicative public self”, 9th International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Vancouver, British Columbia, 11-13 June 2014,University of British Columbia. Prezi:
http://prezi.com/dtojyic-bcee/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy This presentation links some of my key conceptual innovations. Intercommunication definitionally identifies the current blend of communication and media as well as the interpersonal filter that is at play in much of the movement of content and discussion via social media and other online connections.  This new way of connecting establishes a discipline of structure for the organization of the public presentation of the self: formations of patterns of persona construction are evident in online culture which move the utopian and dystopian debates about technological change to a different vista of analysis.


Media Presentations:

I am regularly asked for my expert commentary on radio and  sometimes television. In addition, I occasionally do a guest lecture which is recorded in some way. What follows are some of my recent media appearances.

18 September 2014: Interview on  2UE Sydney on Netflix coming to Australia  11:50 AM

14 July 2014:Rolf Harris Trial and Controversy
Deakin Air recorded an interview of me - a podcast- related to Rolf Harris
 and how celebrities use fame to cover up questionable behaviour.
 A follow-up interview with 6PR on the same topic and removing Harris from Perth's Walk of Fame.

Contemporary Publics International Symposium
Attached to this event, I was interviewed about what the Contemporary Publics International Symposium was attempting to achieve. The event was held at Deakin on the 24- and 25th of February 2014.  My little promotion talk gets in to what the plural publics entails.  The last part of the interview is connected to my specific research on celebrity and persona. Follow the link to the video.
 "Celebrity Performativity and the Age of the Selfie" 
28 July 2014 - Guest lecture Interview: Here is a direct interview and part 3 of the interview on Youtube. "Celebrity Performativity and the Age of the Selfie," -Part one has sections of an actual lecture and the lecturer, Adam Brown's melecture. All worth seeing.  The direct interview and part 3 of the direct interview is probably the best visual and aural version of my research available.  Also incredibly useful for those trying to build teaching resources and a style to construct - Adam Brown's approach is one of the best I've seen.
Celebrity Industrial Complex - on the Scholar's Circle
12 June 2014 Scholars Circle - Radio Interview on Celebrity Industrial Complex with David Giles, Joshua Gamson and David Marshall - with Maria Armoudian - an independent syndicated program. This program pulled together three major scholars that have studie celebrity.

Celebrity and the Portfolio Personality
2 July 2013: The List on  ABC Radio National interviewed on this idea of portfolio culture. Here is their blurb for the program: Celebrity and the Portfolio Personality:  
When too much information is barely enough; life in the online age means constant maintenance of our public personas, says David Marshall, Chair of New Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at Deakin University.
 There is a link to an audio file of the show and interview from this site.

There are, of course, other interviews and other presentations, but I hope this selection of some of my most recent might be interesting. Pass on your comments on any of this material - the most public version of my work!!


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Updating my Research work Part Two: popular and journalistic articles published

In my last post, I listed my recent  academic publications. This post will focus on the articles that intersect with my research but have been published in a form that is more journalistic. I have always thought it very important for academics and intellectuals to ensure that their ideas travel further and, at minimum, attempt to intersect with the way that formations of popular culture migrate through our contemporary media culture.  As a result, I have now written several articles in a brilliant crossover online "newspaper/news source". The journal is called The Conversation.
The banner for the online journal/newspaper The Conversation
 The Conversation is  working out an effective economic structure of generating new information
and represents a new model for the conversion of university thinking and research into the flows of stories that move through the contemporary web. A forthcoming academic article I am developing will look more closely at  The Conversation as well as  Ted Talks  and the way that these provide directions for how ideas can circulate currently. For now, this post is all about what I have written recently in a more journalistic way.  Many of these articles are the germination sources for my academic work; but some just stand alone - I hope - as interesting reading..

Stephen Colbert - the persona is ending

Unless you live under a rock, you are probably aware that Stephen Colbert recently decided to take over  Late Night - the talk show hosted by David Letterman for the last 25 years at CBS.  This article explores the persona of Colbert with the silent "t" that he has both inhabited and constructed for most of the last decade.  As one of the most interesting 'roles' in contemporary television, Colbert stayed in character both onscreen and, for the most part, off-screen.  It allows us to explore the dimensions of a public self - a structure of public presentation that resembles Ancient Greeks and their separation of citizenry and domesticity.
Colbert and Letterman selfie via Twitter and CBS

See Marshall, PD (2014) “Stephen Colbert the persona is ending – and I will miss him”  The Conversation, 2 May, 2014, Available online at: https://theconversation.com/stephen-colbert-the-persona-is-ending-and-i-will-miss-him-25605









The Cate Blanchett Persona and the Allure of the Oscar

The run-up to the Oscars was interesting in the way that the public persona of Cate Blanchett was constructed and managed by the actor herself. The actors' actor also projected a persona of performance and poise that resembled the persona of Katherine Hepburn in its movement through both entertainment and other spaces. This article investigates that construction of a public personality by the eventual winner of the Best Actress Oscar for 2013.


See Marshall, PD (2014) " The Cate Blanchett Persona and the Allure of the Oscar, The Conversation, 26 February 2014, Available online at: https://theconversation.com/the-cate-blanchett-persona-and-the-allure-of-the-oscar-22398








Celebrity fakes – where porn meets a sense of possession
An unusual domain on the Internet is what is known as celebrity fakes - an entire world populated by graphic and hard-core images of the most famous.  Unlike those ripped from Iphones recently, this is industry is built on the photoshopping of naked bodies with famous heads and are openly acknowledged as fakes.  This article explores the reasons why this practice is both so prevalent and not prosecuted by celebrities and other public personalities.

See Marshall, PD (2013) "Celebrity fakes – where porn meets a sense of possession" The Conversation, 12 December 2013, Available online at: http://theconversation.com/celebrity-fakes-where-porn-meets-a-sense-of-possession-20829


Glamour photography makes suburban stars of us all
StarShots advertising billboard in shopping centre
Suburban shopping malls cater to efforts at reconstructing us through its construction of consumer possibilities and potentials.  The efforts of firms such as StarShots are to transform the person into a version that matches the structures of fame and allure. This article investigates this 15 year old form of photography and its play with private to public transformation of the self.

See Marshall, PD (2013), “Glamour photography makes suburban stars of us all”, The Conversation, 9 December, Available online at: https://theconversation.com/glamour-photography-makes-suburban-stars-of-us-all-20828.



Netflix Australia launch could be imminent
Want to know more about the international movements and directions of the online distributor of content, Netflix, and what made it intersect with key transformations in  both the entertainment industry and online culture?  Here is at least one source for a reading of their success and its likely expansion into new markets such as Australia.

See  Marshall, PD (2013) “Netflix Australia launch could be imminentThe Conversation. 26 November. Available online at:
 https://theconversation.com/netflix-australia-launch-could-be-imminent-19553

Rewind, repeat: TV’s fame machine is oh-so retro

Harrison Craig, 2013 Winner of the Australian version
of The Voice with Ricky Martin and Delta Goodrem (AAP)
The development of the current array of talent shows appears to be different, but has remarkable similarities in the production of fame to early television's construction of star-making machines. Reading and re-reading of what constitutes popularity is the parallel trope of old and new. This article connects these traditions through some interesting examples.

See Marshall, P. David (2013)“Rewind, repeat: TV’s fame machine is oh-so retro” The Conversation. 5 November. Available online at: https://theconversation.com/rewind-repeat-tvs-fame-machine-is-oh-so-retro-19155




I will update when more popular articles that I have written appear.   The next post: Part three of updating my research work. The focus will be on my recent presentations, videos, interviews and other media sources.


Monday, September 1, 2014

The latest research and writing: Part One - Published

One of the things I am always remiss in doing is providing access to what I have been writing that is beyond this blog. I was noticing that this blog does get a reasonable number of hits over the years. I feel that I should at least provide some direction for those searching for what the infamous P. David Marshall produces for others. I have been chastised recently for having an email signature that was just inordinately long - like a cv. Here is what that email signature looked like and  it provides at least a suggestion of what not to do.  What follows in this post and the next two is a guided tour to my writing. I hope this small gesture will help to reveal my own online persona with a little more sense!

You can always go to my academia.edu site and hope that I have kept it up to date... Likewise, I have signed on to Research Gate.  Unfortunately, with these locations it may not be possible to load everything. Copyright clearance sometimes gets in the way. Sometimes my lethargy in updating becomes another less-acknowledged but nonetheless real impediment.

Another direction is my university's repository of research. It is called DRO and this is the link to what they have collected and verified as my research. Again it requires me to update. My Deakin profile is another starting point for investigating things as well.

I also try - not perfectly - to update this online version of my CV.

And of course, I flagrantly use Twitter to promote whatever I have finished recently.  Those tweets represent my moments of pride.  My Twitter handle is dmarshallmc and the name hearkens back to the days when we launched the journal M/C in 1998, one of the first online journals exploring media and culture and definitely the first that tried to traverse the worlds of popular culture and academically engaged research. It continues as a location for sophisticated public intellectual discourse of the highest order.

Just a note. I am not a major Facebook player - so that is a place not to look for me. There are lots of reasons for this, but fundamentally my non-use of Facebook began as a technique to separate the personal from the professional realm.  These techniques in and of themselves will serve as a blog post for persona studies and this blog in the very near future....

In classic personal style I have buried my lead - I should be proclaiming what I have published most recently. What follows then is a little guided tour to my recent writing.

Celebrity and Power - the new edition

And I really have had some absolutely sparkling moments.
First is the publication of the new edition of Celebrity and Power: Fame in Contemporary Culture which just came out with University of Minnesota Press this August 2014.  What it contains is a brand new lengthy introduction and a compiled bibliography of research on celebrity over the last fifteen years since the first edition. The focus of the new material is on the new "public intimacy" that has begun to pervade our culture so that our public presentation of ourselves has become pandemic.  It calls for the development of persona studies as a new direction of research that builds from the exploration of how celebrity has charted the presentation of the public self for the last two centuries.  Online culture has been one of the key impetuses for this transformation: the contemporary moment is filled with a new form of etiquette that invokes/demands/invites all of us to work out how we construct a version or multiple versions of ourselves for social media and beyond. The new cover of the book, as you can see, is incredible. And it has some lovely comments on its back that make it even more appealing - like these two:
Marshall’s book offers a scholarly review of critical thinking about celebrity, an original attempt to theorise its function and significance, and a perceptive comment on current trends in contemporary culture. It is a thorough, intelligent and useful contribution to an important subject.

American Studies
Marshall deserves high praise for his skillful handling of the topic from the viewpoints of a wide variety of scholarly disciplines-sociology, political science, psychology, semiotics, linguistics, cinema studies, and cultural studies.

Choice


"Persona" Special Issue of M/C

In late June, along with Kim Barbour and Chris Moore, we edited and published a themed issue on persona for M/C- the Journal.  12 incredible articles emerged from our work and an intriguing cover image by Allison Bennett

"Persona to Persona Studies" Article

My own publications in the issue included the co-authored (with my co-editors Kim Barbour and Chris Moore of course) introductory article "Persona to Persona Studies". It provides an interesting passage through the development of persona studies as well as a structured link to the research in the issue and related to persona itself.

"Seriality and Persona" Article

I also wrote what was called the feature article for the persona issue. Entitled "Seriality and Persona", I explore the value of the concept of seriality in understanding the constitution of the mask of identity that defines the idea of persona.  From looking at fictional seriality  - and using Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini in the The Sopranos), Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey from  House of Cards), and Eminem (Marshall Mathers) as key examples - the essay investigates the forms of projection and the structure of repetition that is part of the contemporary moment of constructing the public self.

The first major Persona Studies article

Emerging from a conference keynote I gave in Geneva in late 2010, my article entitled "Persona Studies: mapping the proliferation of the public self" appeared in the major journal Journalism in a  February 2014 special issue devoted to celebrity news. As it links the study of celebrity to this changed cultural landscape where the presentation of the public self is foregrounded, it concludes by announcing a persona studies manifesto where research is needed to investigate the different extensions of the public presentation of the self in professions, in leisure activity and in the constitution of contemporary identity. Here is the full citational details of the article:


Marshall, PD. (2014) “Persona Studies:  mapping the proliferation of the public self” Journalism, February, Vol:15:2 DOI: 10.1177/1464884913488720 Available at http://jou.sagepub.com.ezproxy-f.deakin.edu.au/content/15/2/153.full.pdf+html, pp. 153-170



My research publications are very clearly thematically related.  I am working very hard at building persona studies as a field of study and, both through my own work and those of my colleagues, it is growing quite rapidly.

More publications will be appearing later in the year and I will work to update and post what is new.
My next post will deal with my more popular articles that I have published recently.  And there will be one further post in this series that will pass on some links to videos, presentations, and radio interviews that I have surfaced through various events and media through the past year. In all, this series will at least provide the material to know what I am up to on the research, writing and presentation fronts. 




Thursday, June 20, 2013

Recognition Culture

The following talk was delivered at the launch of the Persona, Celebrity, Publics Emerging Research Group on 17 June 2013 at the City Centre Campus of Deakin University in Melbourne Australia. The debate and discussion with Sean Redmond and the group focussed on whether celebrity was linked to the formation of a transformed public sphere:

In what Stuart Hall has called the Kilburn Manifesto, he outlines a need for a new attack on the current unique configuration of capital and the havoc it is wreaking on social and political life. Hall suggests,

'Market forces have begun to model institutional life and press deeply into our private lives, as well as dominating political discourse. They have shaped a popular culture that extols celebrity and success and promotes values of private gain and possessive individualism. They have thoroughly undermined the redistributive egalitarian consensus that underpinned the welfare state, with painful consequences for socially vulnerable groups such as women, old people, the young and ethnic minorities.' 

“Is celebrity culture simply an ideological support of new capital?”


By P. David Marshall


Stuart Hall, in his Kilburn Manifesto, is looking to form a new political coalition, one that recognises that the past welfare state is inadequate and that the current configuration of capital post-GFC actually is advancing on the dismantling of further efforts of social support. He indicates that capitalism, instead of suffering a retreat as it had done under other massive threats to its organisation under the 1929 Stockmarket crash for example (which led to its consequence  -  the New Deal and the social welfare state), nothing is building coherently in the polis to counteract these forces. Despite interesting movements and forces, none have cohered to challenge this dimension of capitalism.

And wedded to this, from Hall’s perspective, is a celebrity culture that supports it – that doesn’t allow the emergence of collectives in its celebration of the public person and possessive individualism. So here is the question: is this kind of popular culture leadership really producing a culture that cannot organise, that cannot produce a different constitution of a public and relies instead on its divisions based on the hyperindividual model of celebrity?
The answer is classically yes and no… We do have a culture that pushes each of us to present ourselves, draw attention to ourselves and differentiate ourselves.  We could use all sorts of monikers to describe this organization of not the self so much as the public self.  I am leaning to terms derived from
Raisborough and her Lifestyle Media book ( 2011), where she talks about the push to recognition.  We are living in a recognition culture, one that I have described as a “specular economy” in some of my writing (Marshall, 2010), that draws our own attention to how we present ourselves to others. 
Anthony Giddens (1991), in his description of late modernity identifies that our contemporary culture organisation has an intrinsic and extrinsic dimension:  the intrinsic is how we are focused on self-improvement which manifests itself in efforts such as cosmetic surgery, fitness, and economic well-being and even the individualised religions that rely less and less on traditional culture’s notions of connection and solidarity.  Authors such as Micki McGee (2005) and Alison Hearn (2013) have taken this focus on the self as a way that the self is now branded across our culture – inescapably linked to the system of capital in its individualisation – and also linked to a systemic sense of our own inadequacies and a sense of making the self in new improved ways that rely on the material and social psychology of consumer culture. I will come back to elaborate on this further in a moment. Giddens’ extrinsic reading of late modernity  points to our outer-focussed qualities – those where the dimensions of globalization are part of our everyday and that these differences in the way that we are drawn to these larger dimensions is equally an assault on what might be defined as more traditional conceptions of collective identity.


What has expanded since Giddens wrote those dimensions and challenges to the self in 1991 have partially been taken up by those such as McGee, Banet-Weiser (2012) and Christine Harold (2013) and it is clearly a sense of how self-branding in its structure is dependent on a global anxiety of inconsistency and sense of perpetual inadequacies that are as much a part of work culture as the way we present ourselves in and through our leisure. What Giddens could not have captured in his reading in 1991, was the emergence of the techniques and technologies of expression that allowed individuals to map themselves – really present themselves – not necessarily globally, but publicly.  In the public presentation of the self, there is the sense and sensibility of the local connections and the global programs and applications intersecting.  Thus Facebook, as much as its origins are American, is global in its application to the needs of users to express themselves to others; in this way it resembles the phone system in its facilitating of a new sociality. To link them to the past and position in their present and future, I have called these social network applications that are associated with the Internet, computers and other apparatuses of mobile connection, technologies of the social.  These technologies of the social thus resemble apparatuses such as television – in other words, they draw people together, they create collective experiences and they provide some of the tools through which we imagine connection (what I would call here our techniques and ideologies where the collective “we” is effectively used and accepted). However, these new technologies of the social – such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, position the individual differently in the chain of communication, in the organization of engagement, and in the play of connection.  They privilege the individual starting point in an elaborate intercommunication chain to constructed micro-publics or networked publics. This is different, this is new and it has been the technologies that are producing a new sociality.  Think of it this way: LadyGaga has 10s of millions who follow her on Twitter; and I have 100s – but we are on a spectrum of presentation of the self.  Both of us are producing our persona for publics.  It is not so much that the individual starting point – whether it be a focus on celebrity or a focus on friendship circle on Facebook – takes away the power of the collective; it is that the public individual – modelled very much on the celebrity presentation of the self – produces a different and valued politics of the social and the collective.  Our objective then is to see how these various dimensions of a new public individuality intersect and produce and foster a shifted politics and a new cultural affect that engenders the play of the individual self so closely to a new politics, a new public and a new cultural collective. Harnessing this specular economy, building its affective dimensions via the public individual, via the persona is the challenge – is really my challenge to comprehend it – perhaps facilitate it – read it for all its different flows of power, responsibility and collective formation. It is an anxiety-ridden culture, but it is a different culture that builds from a new constitution of use of technology to establish the relationship between the individual and the social.


We are in an era of the politics of recognition – there is a pragmatic dimension and there is an interesting social and psychological dimension that actually shifts our politics in interesting ways that can be recaptured into forms of social power.  Stuart Hall, you are right it is a kind of possessive individualism that celebrity as it intersects with the pervasive culture of public persona elevates; but the social dimensions of the technologies of the social are underexplored as these personas intersect and build their mutual forms of recognition.  I find the directions of this politics not clearly aligned with the past, not clearly unharnessable, but demanding a much closer look of how we reach for recognition and reach for different configurations of collective experience that establishes a quite different political and public sphere.

References and Interesting sources:

Banet-Weiser, S. (2012). Authentic TM : the politics and ambivalence in a brand culture. New York, NY, New York University Press.

Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity : self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge, Polity.

Harald, Christine (2013) "Brand you"!: the Business of Personal Branding and communities in Anxious Times in McAlister, McAllister, M. P. and E. West (2013). The Routledge companion to advertising and promotional culture. New York, NY, Routledge: pp. 341 -356

Hearn, Alison, `Meat, Mask, Burden` : Probing the contours of the branded `self` Journal of Consumer Culture 2008 2:8: 197-217.   DOI: 10.1177/1469540508090086 Available online at http://joc.sagepub.com/content/8/2/197.full.pdf+html

McGee, M. (2005). Self-Help, Inc. : makeover culture in American life. Oxford ; New York, Oxford University Press.

Marshall, P. David, (2010) "The Specular Economy: Celebrity, two-way mirrors and the personalization of renown", Society. Vol. 50, November, 

Raisborough, J. (2011). Lifestyle media and the formation of the self. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York, Palgrave Macmillan.