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  • Expertise and Collaboration: Cultural Workers’ Performance on Social Media

    Karen Patel

    Chapter from the book: Graham J. & Gandini A. 2017. Collaborative Production in the Creative Industries.


    In cultural work, how important is expertise for securing work and ensuring career progression? Working in the cultural industries is argued to be precarious and very competitive. Social media offers opportunities for public displays of expertise for artists that can potentially reach a global audience, and this has implications for how we conceptualise contemporary cultural work, and in particular, collaboration. Conceptions of cultural work such as Pierre Bourdieu’s illusio demonstrate the importance of social consensus in the process of artists’ elevation above others, or consecration. This chapter explores the concept of illusio in relation to artistic expertise in the social media age. How does expertise manifest on social media? What could social media use tell us about the illusio? The chapter analyses the social media posts of a sample of artists, considering the context of the individual and their situation, the nature of the connections and relationships they pursue on social media and the strategies they employ to perform expertise. The analysis reveals that associations and consensus are crucial for performing expertise. Social media ultimately allows for public endorsement from other people and institutions, which contribute to artists’ performance of expertise. Within that, artists also engage in supportive acts of ‘mutual aid’ manifest on social media through their retweeting of fellow artists. I argue that on social media, artists negotiate these platforms in a dichotomy between competition and collaboration, which contributes to their overall performance of expertise.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Patel, K. 2017. Expertise and Collaboration: Cultural Workers’ Performance on Social Media. In: Graham J. & Gandini A (eds.), Collaborative Production in the Creative Industries. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book4.i

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    Published on June 29, 2017