Monday, August 23, 2010

Inspectional Reading: Affect in Sociology

"Affect" happening live, online?

Jarrett, Kylie. "Labour of Love: An Archaeology of Affect as Power in E-Commerce." Journal of Sociology 39.4 (2003): 335-351

I need to understand exactly what "affect" means if it is to be the keyword of my entire dissertation, so it will have to be the subject of a set of inspectional readings. The big difference that I am putting into inspectional reading this time around is that it must feed directly into real writing, right away.

Sociological studies of affect seem to me to be useful especially in two main sections of my dissertation:

Chapter 1, section 1, "Affect in Chinese Literature"
{identity, symbolic capital, are social relationships always emotional?}
Chapter 4, section 1, "The Role of Affect in Intimate Publics"
{defining "middlebrow" literature, new (online especially) venues for the expression of social identity, user-response reveal the self-interested consumer, the readership as a community, or overlapping communities: do they have power? do they give immaterial labor? is it an example of flexible consumption? What is the role of "love," "goodwill" for the genre? Do they repudiate something? Do they embrace something?}

Here, Jarrett's article argues that social movements, a spirit of volunteerism that resulted from social movements, transformations of the Fordist economy into an economy full of "flexible consumers," and the value given to community among online consumers all work to produce e-commerce consumers "specifically as creatures of affect" with the power to produce creative content (like Amazon product reviews) and to shape production.

This argument has implications for the construction of "collective identity" (Fischer 1996, 181), the emergence of "network economies of scale" (Evans and Wurster, 1997/1999: 29, 2000: 15), modes of resistance to mass-marketing (Miller, 1998: 193, perhaps contra Baudrillard's model, 1981? also Harvey 1990), the productive power of affect (cf. Abercrombie 1991, esp. p. 177), the "love" of brands (Davidson 1992, 26-7, Klein 2001: 7) which leads to immaterial labor (Negri 1996,1999). Perhaps the new communities are a profound challenge to the class-bound identity?

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