BookPDF Available

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



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.
Entrepreneurial Wishes and Career Dreams
In spring 2014, close on the heels of toy manufacturer Mattel’s
controversial collaboration with Sports Illustrated—which featured a
bathing suit–clad Barbie on the magazine’s 50th Anniversary Swim-
suit Issue cover- wrap—the company unveiled the latest doll in its “I
Can Be” career collection: Entrepreneur Barbie. Outfitted in a
modern- cut magenta dress and furnished with a diminutive tablet
device and smart phone, Entrepreneur Barbie was marketed as a self-
starter “ready to make a bold business move and strike out on her own
to achieve her career dreams.”1 The company tapped ten prominent
female entrepreneurs, including Girls Who Code founding CEO
Reshma Saujani and Jennifer Fleiss, co- founder of Rent the Runway,
as real- world ambassadors for Barbie’s “Career of the Year.” Social me-
dia fi gured prominently in the product launch: the hashtag “unapolo-
getic”—originally created for the Sports Illustrated campaign—was
repackaged as a message of female empowerment, and Barbie took to
Twitter to host a virtual “Pink Power Lunch,” wherein she engaged
fans in 140- character dialogues about their “dream careers.”2
Although a few public commentators lapped up Mattel’s celebra-
tory rhetoric of women’s liberation, reporters and cultural critics
alike mocked the company’s naïve depiction of female entrepreneurship.
An Atlantic reporter, who nodded toward Facebook COO Sheryl
Sandberg with the headline “Barbie Leans In,” blasted the doll’s
enduring penchant for pink and fetishization of unrealistic standards of
female physicality.3 Time reporter Jessica Roy’s criticism went beyond
body image censure to highlight the tension between a romanticized
version of entrepreneurship and persistent gender inequalities in tech
start- ups. As Roy scoffed, “Perhaps next Mattel can craft ‘Silently En-
during Sexual Harassment with the Hope I Will Get a Raise’ Barbie;
‘Making Less Than My Male Counterparts’ Barbie; ‘Getting Turned
Down by Investors Because I’m Pregnant’ Barbie; or ‘I’m Going to Die
Eating This Sad Salad at My Desk Alone’ Barbie.”4 While debates about
the merits of Entrepreneur Barbie seemed to languish by the time the
doll hit toy store shelves, muted in part by news of Mattel’s precipitously
declining revenues, the reactions refl ect more widespread discourses of
gender and self- enterprise in the aptly named “new economy.”
More than ever, contemporary culture’s benchmark of success is
the fi gure of the entrepreneur; a study of young peoples career aspira-
tions revealed that roughly two- thirds of those aged eighteen to thirty-
four desire to start their own business, and 37 percent want to work
independently.5 The ideal of the enterprising self feeds into and is fed
by a torrent of career manuals, online articles, digital tutorials, and
even college courses hyping the spirit of passion- fueled careerism.
How- to books—such as Lifestyle Entrepreneur: Live Your Dreams, Ig-
nite Your Passions and Run Your Business from Anywhere in the World;
The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You
Love, and Create a New Future; and the latest installment in John Par-
kins irreverently titled series, F**k It: Do What You Love—provide
tried and true steps for securing a career where pleasure and profi t
blend in perfect harmony. The affective language of “love” and “pas-
sion” is so prevalent in these employment discourses that scholar and
Jacobin contributor Miya Tokumitsu declared “Do What You Love”
the “unoffi cial work mantra of our time.”6
Nowhere is this career mantra more pervasive than in the creative
industries, including fashion, media, entertainment, and design.
These fi elds are seen as idyllic professional destinations, characterized
by autonomy, flexibility, and, above all, the potential for self-
actualization. For young women, including those incited by what cul-
tural theorist Angela McRobbie identifi es as the “creativity dispotif
rampant in popular culture and the education system, “work becomes
akin to a romantic relationship.”7 Yet the boundaries surrounding
these industries are notoriously impermeable, especially in a “gig
economy” of outsourced jobs and slashed benefi ts.
With other viable pathways blocked, would- be creatives are turn-
ing to social media as conduits to visibility and exposure. Silicon
Valley social networks are the new audition reels for the media and
culture industries—the place where stars are made, and (the hope is)
paid. YouTube is frequently touted as a platform for budding musi-
cians and comedians, and Instagram is celebrated as a public forum
for modeling hopefuls.8 Even Snapchat—with its ephemeral stories
and animated face- mapping fi lters—has spawned a new breed of star:
pithy virtual storytellers with word- of- mouth cachet.9 The trium-
phant tales of the online “discovered” offer a modern- day version of
screen legend Lana Turner’s fabled encounter at the soda fountain.
And though these celeb- bloggers and digital infl uencers are allegedly
disrupting “the fame paradigm,” they are upheld in the popular imag-
ination as individuals just like us.10
This narrative of digital democratization is especially pronounced
in the world of fashion, one of the industries I closely examine in the
book. Since the mid- aughts, personal style blogs have been lauded for
upending traditional hierarchies of high fashion infl uence and taste-
making.11 The notion that anyone can be a fashion blogger is an unshak-
able myth in popular culture, and media outlets routinely profi le style
infl uencers who lie at the margins of elite fashion’s mainstream: plus-
size bloggers, bloggers aged forty- plus (or alternatively those still in
middle school), and hijab bloggers, as well as the more nebulous des-
ignation of “alternative fashion bloggers.” The attention lavished on
these and other über- stylish digital content producers is astonishing; I
witnessed fi rsthand the frenzy that accompanies A- list fashion blog-
gers like Aimee Song (Song of Style) and Chiara Ferragni (The Blonde
Salad) as they sashayed their way through the swarms at New York
Fashion Week, preening for the cameras or snapping selfies with
eager onlookers (see Figure 1). Mainstream media coverage also
spotlights the economic valuation of these so- called “infl uencers,”
revealing “how style bloggers are turning social savvy into six- gure
salaries” or reporting on those “paid up to $15,000 for a single Insta-
gram post.”12
Importantly, the high- profi le activities of super- bloggers and the
Insta- famous obscure the contributions of legions of other social
media producers—bloggers, vloggers, DIY stylists, and more—who
make nary a headline. This is a book about these enterprising,
digitally networked young people and the oft- unpaid work they
undertake. After all, it is the experiences of individuals aspiring to
colonize the social media economy that give expression to what I call
“aspirational labor.”
Aspirational labor is a mode of (mostly) uncompensated, inde-
pendent work that is propelled by the much- venerated ideal of getting
paid to do what you love. As both a practice and a worker ideology,
aspirational labor shifts content creators’ focus from the present to
the future, dangling the prospect of a career where labor and leisure
coexist. Indeed, aspirational laborers expect that they will one day be
compensated for their productivity—be it through material rewards
1. Chiara Ferragni, the creator of the blog The Blonde Salad, poses for a photog-
rapher outside the Michael Kors show at New York Fashion Week.
Photo Credit: Brent Luvaas.
or social capital. But in the meantime, they remain suspended in the
consumption and promotion of branded commodities.
Discourses of “paying off” are central to the motivations of aspi-
rational laborers; they expect that their investments of time, energy,
and capital will yield a fulfi lling, and perhaps lucrative, career. Of
course, as I detail throughout this book, “paying off” is highly subjec-
tive and varies according to the interests, experiences, and ambitions
of the aspirant. Some young women I interviewed seek a career in the
creative industries; thus, “paying off” would mean landing a full- time
position at a womens magazine, fashion house, or social media fi rm.
Others, particularly those swept up in the infectious rhetoric of entre-
preneurialism, see a high- paying blog or makeup vlog as the endgame,
with income from affi liate links, brand sponsorships, and/or designer
collaborations. For these individuals, the possibility of being indepen-
dently employed is especially rousing.
But despite the optimism surrounding the future rewards of aspi-
rational labor, only a fraction of content creators rises above the din to
achieve major success. For the rest, the ideal of getting paid to do what
you love remains an unfulfi lled promise.
Drawing upon more than fi fty in- depth interviews, participant
observation, and a close analysis of professionalization resources, this
book highlights a set of patterned contradictions that are essential to
social media producers’ own self- descriptions:
Authenticity vs. self- promotion: A pervasive social media aesthetic
and narrative relies on the contemporary logics of “authentic-
ity” and “realness” but requires laborers to draw upon market
logics to brand themselves.
Creativity vs. commerce: The ideal of creative self- expression that
they circulate serves to distinguish social media aspirants from
those working in cultural industries more explicitly driven by
profi t maximization. Yet much like the latter, individual social
media producers confront commercial pressures on the path to
generate income.
Hobby vs. professional status: The contrast between professional
and amateur pervades the world of social media makers. Cer-
tainly, this dichotomy elides the reality that those (seemingly
hobby) bloggers with the greatest number of followers have
been able to parlay their digital fame into book deals, clothing
lines, and designer collaborations, among others.
My use of the term aspirational highlights the incentive of future
reward systems for present- day productive activities. This concept has
important historical precedents that I trace throughout the book. In
particular, I detail a signifi cant cultural shift from aspirational con-
sumption—status- induced consumerism that routes self- expression
through the marketplace—to aspirational labor, where self- expression
is articulated through a patterned set of highly individualized, value-
generating productive activities.
The reference to social media activity as labor may initially seem
puzzling, given that individuals seem to take great pleasure in their
online activities. While the division between labor and leisure has al-
ways been knotty, particularly for women,13 the ascent of digital media
renders this divide doubly problematic given the myriad ways in
which commonplace acts of self- expression—“liking” a brand’s Insta-
gram post, reviewing the latest gadget on Amazon, or updating one’s
social media profi le—generate value for media and marketing institu-
tions.14 This conceptual slipperiness is among the reasons so many
scholars have sought to delineate the borders around “free labor” in
the digital economy; in the oft- quoted words of Italian scholar
Tiziana Terranova, such labor is “simultaneously voluntarily given
and unwaged, enjoyed and exploited.”15 My own use of the term labor
captures the productive, purposeful, task- oriented, and value-
generating function of these activities. Moreover, as this book makes
clear, these practices are quite similar to the (waged) work of tradi-
tional media producers, including journalists, video producers, adver-
tisers, and publicists. As Jean Burgess and Joshua Green argued
of the YouTube community, social media networks must be under-
stood as “co- creative” spaces where “amateur and professional media
content, identities and motivations are not so easily separated.”16
Social and industrial constructions of gender and femininity
are central to the aspirational labor system, especially in the creative
industries; for this reason, most of the social media producers I inter-
viewed were women. This is not to say that men don’t engage in aspi-
rational labor; they do. But the genres of social media production
examined in this book—fashion and lifestyle blogging, beauty vlog-
ging, DIY design—are largely populated by young women. In the
popular imagination, these activities are framed through crude bina-
ries that tend to structure conversations about gender- coded internet
usage and creative expression. For instance, despite early accounts of
the “masculine” blogosphere, the rapid ascension of social media has
been celebrated as evidence of the internet’s progressive “feminiza-
tion.”17 In 2012, the Nielsen company released data that revealed a
stark “gender divide” in social media habits; noteworthy among its
ndings was that women—especially in the eighteen to twenty- four
category—were signifi cantly more likely than men to have a blog,
build social media profi les, and follow a brand online. The Atlantic’s
Megan Garber summarized the data with a cheering assertion: “Girls
may not run the world, but they dominate on the web.”18 But many of
these activities are inscribed within a ubiquitous consumer landscape.
As media scholars Sarah Banet- Weiser and Inna Arzumanova argue to
this end, “The idea of girls using the web more than boys . . . is al-
ready bound by conventional notions of what, and who, girls are
fashionistas, make- up artists, stylists, and most of all—shoppers.”19
Banet- Weiser and Arzumanova situate gendered social media praxis
(they focus on shopping hauls posted on YouTube) in a historical con-
text wherein girls and young women are seen above all as consumers
who engage in work on the self (brand).20
Aspirational labor, too, relies on historically constructed notions
of femininity—particularly discourses of community, affect, and
commodity- based self- expression. As I show in the book, the post-
feminist logics of visibility and individual expression are articulated as
paths to fi nancial empowerment. In addition, I contend that the labor
of aspiration has conceptual similarities to traditional forms of “wom-
ens work” (domestic labor, reproductive labor, care labor), which
have remained invisible despite their central role in servicing the
engines of capitalism.21 I thus situate aspirational labor in a cultural
history of unpaid female labor with lineages traceable to systems of
patriarchy and commodity capitalism.
Whether male or female, aspirational laborers are engaged in gen-
dered practices that combine (and subsequently reproduce) both of
these legacies: working, for little or no pay, to generate consumption-
oriented visibility through social media/blogs. This core, gendered
dimension of aspirational labor distinguishes the concept from other
forms of labor that rely on the temporal deferment of wages and the
normalization of risk, most notably Gina Neffs theory of “venture
labor” and Kathleen Kuehn and Thomas F. Corrigan’s notion of “hope
labor.”22 Though these differ in important ways, they collectively
address the ideologies that rationalize neoliberal workers’ investments
of time, capital, and labor through the promise of eventual capital or
future success. The ideology of hope labor, Kuehn and Corrigan ar-
gue, is “positioned as a meritocratic investment in one’s employment
prospects” at a moment when work is evermore precarious and inse-
cure.23 One way to understand aspirational labor is as a particular
form of hope labor, one that foregrounds participation in the con-
sumer circuit as part of a recursive process. In addition to investing in
various commodities, the work of aspirational laborers is often physi-
cally embodied in the blogger, vlogger, or Instagrammer as she models
her newly purchased wares. In a reprise of the female body’s visibility
in twentieth- century consumer culture, the digitally networked,
pixelated version not only shops but also “tags,” “likes,” and—most
importantly—“recommends” branded goods.
The gendered social media activities I track in the book are one
facet of a cultural economy marked by widespread independence. In-
deed, freelancers, contract hires, and interns constitute a swelling class
of workers in a “gig economy,” an “on- demand economy,” or perhaps
least euphemistically, a “1099 economy.” Though many of these indi-
viduals pursue the much- hyped ideals of fl exibility and autonomy, the
rapid growth of independent employment is symptomatic of what
scholars and labor advocates understand as a “political economy of
insecurity.”24 That is, as neoliberal ideologies and practices shift orga-
nizational risks and responsibilities onto individual citizens, workers
must shoulder the burden for training, healthcare, and other benefi ts.
Against the backdrop of pervasive worker insecurity, it is perhaps
not surprising that career- seekers are urged to identify their distinc-
tive strengths, engage in brazen self- promotion, and spearhead “per-
sonal visibility” campaigns.25 That is, they are to internalize the logic
of personal branding. Though self- promotion is by no means a new
imperative, in recent decades, structural transformations bound to
the neoliberal ideologies of individuality and self- governance have in-
stigated more self- conscious efforts to brand the self.26 Increasingly,
many of these practices take place across a raft of social media net-
works: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Forms of online
self- branding are built into social network architectures—such as fea-
tures that require users to add photos to their LinkedIn profi les or
craft pithy self- descriptors to fi ll their Twitter bios. Other efforts
to bolster one’s image include practices of “micro- celebrity,” which
involve the calculated use of social media to “amp up’ [one’s] popu-
larity” and “gain status and attention online.”27 These and other prac-
tices command investments in time and energy: building and
maintaining one’s social networks; curating one’s feeds with a digital
cocktail of informative, thought- provoking, and witty content;
and ensuring the consistency of one’s self- brand across the sprawling
digital ecosystem.
This book highlights the urgency of these self- promotional ac-
tivities in an age of social media that hails so many of us as entrepre-
neurial free agents. The ideology of aspirational labor emerges amidst
widespread uncertainty about the future of work and alongside tech-
nologies that promise creative fulfi llment. And it’s a seductive ideology
that pairs passion with (worker) profi t to glamorize labor conditions
that are far less remunerative and gratifying than hyped. Aspirational
labor thus romanticizes work as its conditions are becoming more
precarious, time- intensive, and decidedly unromantic.
... Applying a gendered lens to digital labour, Jarrett (2015) explains how the work we do online is strictly related to the unpaid sphere of domestic and reproductive (female) labour. In the same vein, Duffy (2017) argues that social constructions of gender and femininity are central to the emergence of the ideal of aspirational labour, namely, 'a mode of (mostly) uncompensated, independent work that is propelled by the much-venerated ideal of getting paid to do what you love' (p. 4). ...
... Our data confirm the logic of aspirational labour (Duffy, 2017), which holds that, for women especially, digital popularity is still centred around highly feminized sites of cultural production, such as fashion, beauty and retail. ...
... you're going to see a nice ass (Giada) At the same time, women can gain popularity on social networks because they are able to benefit from their social capital more easily than men. We live in an economy where workers are compelled to promote themselves and deploy their affective skills, and women are seen as uniquely positioned to engage in such modes of emotional and relational labour (Duffy, 2017). 'All girls are more popular-girls generally have more friends than boys. ...
... Other scholars have analyzed drives toward prioritizing aesthetics on the platform and the apparently contrary impulses towards ensuring the "authenticity" of content (Duffy 2017). ...
Full-text available
In the last years, scholars have begun trying to investigate the role played by social networks as tools for an informal approach to education. In this direction, the so called “influencers” are seen by young people not only as distributors of entertainment pills, but also, in many cases, as references for inspiring consumptions, values, lifestyles and also to build knowledge. Based on 294 auto-ethnographic reports provided by young people between the ages of 20 and 23, the research presents findings about what are the most relevant educational topics covered by the influencers and the reasons why young people considered them influential from an educational point of view. Through the analysis of the reports, that provided reflections on 513 influencers, some interesting findings can be highlighted on the potential of influencers as informal educators, specifically able at inspiring and nurturing socio-emotional learning and “life skills”.Some traits seem to characterize the informal educational approach of the influencers: authenticity, attainability, humor and self-deprecation. They bring together aspirational self and aestheticization of failure, thus inspiring, for young people, continuous development in an amusing and unusual key. The research also introduces some of the frailties and contradictions of these educational models for the younger generations.
... These include sincerity, trustworthiness, accuracy, originality, spontaneity, and visibility [7,8]. Likewise, when influencers display qualities of realness, visibility, and uniqueness, they are regarded as authentic by their followers [9]. Social media influencers are also perceived by their followers to occupy a wide range of roles that foster and reinforce authenticity. ...
Full-text available
This chapter explores the construction of authenticity by social media influencers. Understood to include attributes and practices such as sincerity, trustworthiness, accuracy, originality, spontaneity, and visibility, influencer authenticity is complex. We argue that the perceived authenticity of influencers can create virtual communities through shared identities and experiences, has the power to impact followers’ actions such as purchases and beliefs, and is often contradictory as influencers navigate their opposing roles as both proponents for consumption and facilitators of social connection. Further, we discuss the ways in which ideas about authenticity are central to the digital labor that influencers perform, and that authenticity, as it is enacted, possesses a complex ethics. We conclude with a discussion of how social media authenticity is further complicated in the wake of advancements in generative artificial intelligence that produce cultural content whose veracity is difficult to determine.
... A closer look at the announcements shows that even if hackathons appear to be inclusive forms, the bottom line is that not everyone who is addressed can participate equally. Here, this kind of 'aspirational labor' (Duffy 2017), i.e. labor that is self-entrepreneurial and at the same time aligned with highly affected structures of expectation, aims to commit subjects to the hope of producing something that has a higher shelf life than the hackathon. This orientation is a form of designing the future-to be part of the significant idea, of something greater. ...
Full-text available
Used in the context of innovation-driven economies and civil society, hackathons are a good example of collaborative postdigital design processes and their focus on futures and the realization of new ideas. Hackathons are a widespread organizational form of designing the future in which digital solutions (such as apps, web-sites) are preferred. What becomes questionable in the process of designing, however , is the social form of the future. In our case study, we ask which futures are being designed and by whom. While empirically, these questions are often answered together, we disentangle them in our analysis of online announcements of hack-athons. We show how a feasible, designable, and achievable future is imagined through practices of problematization and scaling. We demonstrate corresponding models of subjects that are preferred for designing the future. With our praxeologi-cal analysis, we aim to contribute to an understanding of the micropowers of designing postdigital futures. While in principle, 'everyone' is invited to participate in the design process at hackathons, the announcements already show that only certain participants are desired, and only certain kinds of futures are imaginable through hackathons.
... Having said this, I also feel that not everybody will ben-efit equally from reading the book. Readers who are already familiar with the works on authenticity in contempo rary digital culture (e.g., Heřmanová, Skey, & Thurnell-Read, 2022) and readers who already have a good understanding of the dynamics that govern the influencer industry (e. g., Duffy, 2017) might find that the book delivers new insights, yet possibly not at a punch rate that is high enough to justify taking the time to read the entire book. Readers, however, who are looking for a historical account of the influencer industry and those interested in an in-depth look at how the influencer industry works will find much to learn in this book. ...
Full-text available
The Influencer Industry: The Quest for Authenticity on Social Media, written by American media researcher Emily Hund, takes the reader on a scouting expedition into the U. S. influencer industry. Hund is a well-established author in social media influencer research, where her works on gender dynamics in the influencer industry have been particularly notable (e. g., Duffy & Hund, 2015, 2019). These works look at social media influence from a creative industry’s angle, and The Influencer Industry also stands in this lineage. Although the title does not make it clear, the book offers, first and foremost, a chronological history of the influencer industry in the United States. Beginning with the advent of political bloggers in the late 1990s, each chapter focuses on a specific period and the overarching developmental milestones Hund identifies as constituting the period. This way, Hund provides a much-needed historical perspective on the influencer industry. However, the book wants to be more than that – and it definitely is – in that it also reflects on how the influencer industry impacts contemporary forms of sociation.
Early-onset cancer patients, survivors and caregivers have unique needs in comparison to their older counterparts. As a result, they often turn to social media to find others with similar experiences. This study employs hermeneutic phenomenology to understand the unique needs of early-onset cancer patients and caregivers as they engage with communities related to their illness across different social media platforms. Drawing from such theories as uses and gratifications, context collapse, and aspirational self-presentation, this study shows how people engaging with social media communities related to early-onset cancer employ “affordances-in-practice,” choosing what to post based both on the technical affordances of each platform, and on the audience they imagine to be on each platform. We find that in addition to seeking information and social support, participants in early-onset cancer communities use social media to seek hope. This finding suggests a nuanced reconsideration of the existing dichotomy between online authenticity and the aspirational self on social media platforms like Instagram.
Increasing attention has been paid to social media influencers and their self-branding strategies; yet, a perspective that specifically focuses on such practices in terms of social status has still to be fully developed. This paper analyses how Instagram micro-influencers use self-branding practices as ways to construct and display social status and, secondly, contributes to shed light on the contemporary changes in status gaining and signalling. Moving from Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption, I contend that conspicuousness represents the main cultural logic underpinning micro-influencers’ practises, and it's characterised by a productive display of consumption. Departing from Veblen’s theorisation, the display is not an expression of wastefulness, but a productive element in the construction of social status. Employing a methodological approach comprising digital methods and qualitative interviews, the research shows how the logic of conspicuousness unfolds and becomes productive through consumption practices characterised by accumulation, access, and circularity. Furthermore, the results highlight how micro-influencers follow the logic of conspicuousness to construct social status by seeking exclusivity or negotiating belongingness.
Full-text available
En los últimos años, la profesionalización se ha convertido en un concepto cada vez más influyente en la escena del hip-hop de la Ciudad de México. Este artículo vincula al tema en este contexto a la disminución de la influencia de los crews, planteados en la fraternidad, la informalidad y la identidad compartida, en favor de “equipos” más formales que se organizan alrededor de solistas. Basado en una investigación etnográfica, este artícu­lo considera las distintas concepciones sobre lo “profesional”: la conformación del objeto musical “profesional” y la del sujeto “profesional”. De esta forma, muestra que la profesionalización no sólo incorpora y caracteriza lo “no estratégico”, sino que distingue el “profesionalismo” del hip-hop de la misma característica “no estratégica”.
This article introduces a group of ‘enterprising women’ in occupations dealing with ‘impression management’ and ‘care of the self’. It argues that this brand of worker successfully transforms skills acquired through consumption and the making of the feminine into increasingly valuable marketable skills. As such she embodies a blurring of consumption and production and inhabits a particular form of enterprising femininity. Through a reflexive life story method, questions of the role of consumption and self-help literature in the construction of this subjectivity are explored.
This essay points to the dearth of media production studies conducted under the cultural studies rubric and calk for cultural studies of media production that fulfill the models of cultural circulation theorized by Stuart Hall and Richard Johnson. It argues that such a perspective must include analyses of both economic and discursive power. It presents five factors shaping the production process of a U.S. broadcast television network soap opera as provisional categories for scholarly exploration, as well as offering an in‐depth look at the soap opera production process and its cultural implications.