With just 4 weeks until early bird registration closes, we thought now was a good time to begin sharing our Keynote’s abstracts with you all. We’ll be releasing one a week between now and the early bird deadline, in alphabetical order (the running order for the conference itself is top secret!). To kick us off, Nick Couldry asks us to think about the role of celebrity in the media’s “institutional logics of survival”.
Clearly neither we, nor the media, can live without celebrity: We can’t wait for the conference!
Follow him at: @couldrynick
CELEBRITY, SYMBOLIC CAPITAL AND THE FATE OF MEDIA INSTITUTIONS
Nick Couldry, London School of Economics and Political Sciences
In this talk I will attempt to think about the seemingly inexorable rise of celebrity narratives and celebrity-focused attention from the point of view of ‘the media’s’ institutional logics of survival, the needs of changing institutional networks and structures, and the battle of media institutions in particular to shore up their social legitimacy and sources of economic value.
I will begin by discussing mediatization and celebrity: specifically, the contribution of accounts of ‘mediatization’ to broadening a field-theory-based account of media’s impacts on social processes, via the concept of media meta-capital, that is, the increasing convergence across all fields of the sources of symbolic capital around access to and exposure in media narratives, frames and events. This in turn leads to the increasing salience of ‘celebrity’ across all fields. In the second part of the talk, I will discuss the increasing reliance of media institutions on celebrity as hooks for narrative, endorsers of events, and general reinforcers of value, at a time of increasing challenge to the myth of the mediated centre around which the social legitimacy of media institutions is built. My conclusion will look ahead to the developing interrelations between these two contrasting dynamics, and suggest that celebrities and celebrity references are likely to go on increasing in value to media institutions and to general social agents, at the same time as celebrity discourse has ever less ability to ‘express’ or ‘redeem’ the conditions of an increasingly stratified everyday life.