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(Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love:…

(Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love: Gender, Social Media, and… (edition 2017)

by Brooke Erin Duffy (Author)

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An illuminating investigation into a class of enterprising women aspiring to "make it" in the social media economy but often finding only unpaid work Profound transformations in our digital society have brought many enterprising women to social media platforms--from blogs to YouTube to Instagram--in hopes of channeling their talents into fulfilling careers. In this eye-opening book, Brooke Erin Duffy draws much-needed attention to the gap between the handful who find lucrative careers and the rest, whose "passion projects" amount to free work for corporate brands.   Drawing on interviews and fieldwork, Duffy offers fascinating insights into the work and lives of fashion bloggers, beauty vloggers, and designers. She connects the activities of these women to larger shifts in unpaid and gendered labor, offering a lens through which to understand, anticipate, and critique broader transformations in the creative economy. At a moment when social media offer the rousing assurance that anyone can "make it"--and stand out among freelancers, temps, and gig workers--Duffy asks us all to consider the stakes of not getting paid to do what you love.… (more)
Title:(Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love: Gender, Social Media, and Aspirational Work
Authors:Brooke Erin Duffy (Author)
Info:Yale University Press (2017), 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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(Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love: Gender, Social Media, and Aspirational Work by Brooke Erin Duffy



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I was interested in this book because of the comparisons to fandom, where there is an increased attempt on the part of many fanwork creators to make some money through the use of Patreon etc. and/or commissions. Duffy is instead focused on lifestyle/fashion bloggers, who seek to get brand sponsors in order to make their work pay off. There was a lot of aspirational labor—labor that they hoped would have a payoff, usually while they were navigating the uncertain labor market with other day jobs. They hoped to get paid to do what they loved: Duffy describes their focus as the future over the present; in the future labor and leisure might coexist for them. The ones who were more likely to succeed often had the cash—usually from family—to buy expensive items and show them off in the first place, to have a good camera and expertise in arranging photos, as well as having connections/social capital so that they were more likely to get exposure from conventional media channels. They were also more likely to be white or Asian.

Gender played a big role too—women were expected (by themselves and by brands) to be happier than men to work for free/for “exposure.” Plus, lifestyle bloggers had to negotiate the complicated, gendered relationship between “realness” and “selling out”—their audiences weren’t all that tolerant of the bloggers getting paid (contrary to some more male-dominated spaces such as videogame vloggers). And brand owners apparently tried to exercise more control over female bloggers/vloggers in terms of content than they did over men—discussions of mental health and cursing were taboo.

The supposed freedom of freelancing also meant being “always on,” always producing content—Duffy describes it as exchanging temporal flexibility for spatial flexibility (working from home), though these days many other kinds of workers have also lost temporal flexibility. “But aspirational labot has succeeded in one important way; it has glamorized work just when it is becoming more labor-intensive, individualized, and precarious.” Duffy ends by pointing to the ways in which most academics are aspirational laborers too—entering a market glutted with others like them in which few succeed, advised to cultivate a social media presence, expected to produce content that catches eyes, told they’re lucky to be able to do what they love (and accept low pay because they love it).

I was also interested to read about the (alleged) practice among lifestyle bloggers of claiming to have been “gifted” a product by a brand when they’d bought it themselves, thus making themselves look more popular/connected—something the brands were happy to tolerate. ( )
1 vote rivkat | Oct 19, 2017 |
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