Humorous Youth Taste Communities, Class and Homologies of Snark

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Steven THREADGOLD, University of Newcastle, Australia
This paper will discuss research about young people involved in online taste communities. What do individuals get out of participation in collective online expressions of taste, especially when they are based upon disgust towards an imaginary other? The online communities analysed here have formed around homologous forms of denigration. Found news stories, photos and other digital ephemera are turned into satirical fictional profiles, memes and polemics that create taste hierarchies, while positioning oneself in said hierarchy (even if not meaning to). These blogs and posts are then shared and commented upon. Stereotypes are engaged, where class aspects are often blurred and complex, that is, it is more than straightforward downward symbolic violence. In terms of the theorisation of taste and collectivity, ‘distinction’ is an important way to think about how people relate to each other and position themselves through hierarchical relations based on the symbols and affects of consumer taste and popular culture, and how those very relations produce and transform class. The original conception of distinction still has considerable relevance for how people use taste to judge, categorise and relate, especially when considering how people consume, rather than just what. But, since the lines between so-called high and popular culture have blurred, and much social interaction is online and ironic, this paper develops the concept of distinction by incorporating aspects of affect, irony and theories about social media. Taste communities work as affective economies that create moral boundaries, and produce reflexive class relations. Habitus lubricates online aggregation of taste through forms of social gravity, affective homologies and immaterial labour, and therefore helps formulate capitalist value extraction.