Social Mediation of Higher Education: The Public Visibility and ‘Celebrification’ of Academia in the Cyberspace Alenka Jelen University of Central Lancashire
Introduction • Can you work with the ‘stars’? • Celebrity culture and celebrification of academia • Social media: visibility, production and reproduction of the ‘stars’ • Changes and impacts?
The concept of ‘academic fame’? • Work publicly well known • Media profile: authoritative and expert comments • A name that guarantees a publishing/research contract (a Hollywood star funding for a movie) • The discourse of fame in lectures, conference presentations etc. (a figure that ‘dresses, talks and walks for the part’): to amuse and keep the audience interested (PPT, images, jokes, reflections etc.) • Academic ‘fans’ and para-social relationships • The stairway to stardom: talent, ‘specialness’, hard work and professionalism • Awards for outstanding achievements • The world of interpersonal competition, inflated egos, justification of expenditures (Herrick, 2005)
Academics as celebrities Still a ‘silly’ idea?
Concepts in sociology of fame Adulation, identification and competition The desire for fame Originates from the primary need to be wanted Encouraged by egoistical, fractured and incomplete (post)modern identity Fame offers material, economic, social and psychological rewards (and working around the clock) Access to social space and thecentre of meaning generation If you are not famous: periphery of power networks, ‘fan’ status, co-produce impressions
Differencesbetween academic and celebrity culture • Public vs. private disclosure (maintenance of a ‘private world’) • Invasion of privacy • Academics usually strive to remain impersonal, ‘objective’, detached, and admired as ‘wise’ • The level of intimacy in relationships with the ‘fans’ • Less image and possessive-self domination (?) • Less psychological damage (?) • Loneliness and destructive devices (?)
Social media and academic circulation • Production, circulation and consumption of ‘academic fame’ transformed by new media • New spaces and dimensions of public visibility • Shifting the line between public and private • New reputation management? • ‘Fame’ and visibility manufacture and construction?
Constructing an on-line ‘self’ • Blogging • LinkedIn • Facebook • Twitter • Academia.edu • Google Buzz? • Private vs. public
The importance of self ‘on-line’ • The power of Google: students googling us before joining university/courses/classes
The presentation of self on-(everyday)line • Institutional: • Official university website • Personal: • Blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc. • Academia.edu • Own websites (Teun A. van Dijk) • Positive stories in building academic image: PR? • Preference for university profile websites (‘third person’ endorsement)
Co-construction of ‘self’ • Twitter: quotes • Facebook: • Status updates • Facebook groups etc. • To be or not to be friends? • Blogs written about us by our students/ followers/ listeners/ opponents • You have been YouTubed: • Lectures • Social situations
Reputation management? • It is not just you who defines your reputation • How often students and other people who discuss things about you on-line? • What are they saying? Why? • With who? • Management and control of our on-line presence and appearance? • Hire a PR consultant/assistant?
Issues for consideration • High potential visibility in the cyberspace • Students as ‘ambassadors’ of our image (the level of control?) • Highself-monitoring: Be careful what you say or do, you might end up on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. • How to manage personal information/reputation on-line? • Increasing visibility and ‘celebrification’ of academia in the cyber space • ‘Panopticonisation’ of academia • The same route as politics?
Future research • Potential research: • Visibility of PR academic community on-line? • Comparison with other fields? • How well do we practice what we preach?
Thank you! Alenka Jelen University of Central Lancashire AJelen@uclan.ac.uk