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Title: Prosumer culture and the question of fetishism
Authors: Roberts, JM
Cremin, C
Keywords: Adorno and Horkheimer;Deleuze and Guattari;Digital culture;Fetishism;Marcuse;Marxism;Prosumption;Žižek
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Citation: Journal of Consumer Culture, (2017)
Abstract: Critical theorists often argue that prosumption leads to new forms of exploitation. For example, social media users generate and produce content for social media pages, but undertake this activity in their leisure time and through their ‘free labour’. Yet, the vast majority are paid nothing by social media companies for their efforts. However, we are sceptical of this particular critical account primarily because we do not believe the framework of ‘exploitation’ is particularly useful when analysing the activity of prosumers. From an alternative Marxist perspective we suggest, instead, that one important element of prosumption lies in its capacity and potential to develop a new fetish for different capitalist relations. Three main groups of theorists are drawn upon to make this argument: Deleuze and Guattari, Adorno and Horkheimer, and Marcuse and Žižek. From Deleuze and Guattari we develop the idea that capitalist desire unleashes affectual and creative energies of fetishism, which today can be channelled into prosumption. From Adorno and Horkheimer, we show that this desire is realised through the adaptation of a factory-style DIY culture to aesthetic production and prosumption within society more generally. From Marcuse we argue that while capitalism instils in people a desire to consume, it also creates a desire to be liberated from capital which also, as Žižek emphasises, becomes in the form of ethical consumption another object to obtain through capital. In conclusion, we suggest these authors provide a theoretical basis to move beyond problematic dualist accounts that divide and separate prosumers and knowledge capitalism from the circuit of industrial capital.
ISSN: 1469-5405
Appears in Collections:Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Research Papers

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