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‘What I’m not gonna buy’: Algorithmic culture jamming and anti-consumer politics on YouTube

Wood, R

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Abstract

<jats:p> This article is based on an analysis of ‘anti-haul’ videos on YouTube, where a vlogger explains which beauty products they plan not to buy. Anti-haul vloggers have much in common with ‘culture jamming’ movements, which use the communicative practices and materials of promotional culture against itself to spread an anti-consumerist agenda. The article argues that anti-hauls should be understood as the reinvention of ‘culture jamming’ techniques for a contemporary promotional culture that is platform based, algorithmically governed, and mobilised through the affective, authentic performance of the ‘influencer’. I refer to this manipulation of the platform’s visibility mechanisms to spread anti-consumer messages as ‘algorithmic culture jamming’. The anti-consumer politics of anti-hauls are contradictory and ambivalent. At the same time, I argue that anti-hauls also offer important possibilities for political learning, personal and collective transformation, and alternative creative pleasures outside of continual consumer accumulation. </jats:p>

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 8, 2020
Online Publication Date Jul 8, 2020
Publication Date Sep 1, 2021
Publicly Available Date May 30, 2023
Journal New Media & Society
Print ISSN 1461-4448
Electronic ISSN 1461-7315
Publisher SAGE Publications
Volume 23
Issue 9
Pages 2754--2772
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444820939446
Keywords Algorithm, algorithmic culture jamming, anti-consumerism, beauty, influencers, YouTube
Publisher URL https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1461444820939446

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