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Social media influencers, post-feminism and neoliberalism: How mum bloggers’ ‘playbour’ is reshaping public relations

Archer, C. (2019) Social media influencers, post-feminism and neoliberalism: How mum bloggers’ ‘playbour’ is reshaping public relations. Public Relations Inquiry, 8 (2). pp. 149-166.

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The rise of blogging mothers as precariat workers conducting ‘playbour’, a combination of play and labour, and as subjects of neoliberalism, requires a re-examination of virtually mobile mothers and their role in 21st century society. At the same time, public relations (PR) and marketing practitioners are grappling with how to interact and ‘work’ with these, among other, social media influencers who are increasingly seen as able to sell products and ideas through their blogs, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms. The relatively new relationships between PR practitioners and social media influencers raise questions of unequal power and vulnerability for both the largely amateur influencers and the PR practitioners. The relationship between the two means that ethical questions around exploitation, authenticity, professionalism and control have arisen, with both sides feeling their way in new terrain. This article uses the concepts of precarity and liminality and applies them to a group of ‘mommy/mummy/mum bloggers’, that is, blogging mothers of young children, negotiating their identities as mothers, and moving beyond their homes using social media to, in part, create a sense of belonging (but also, in some cases, to make money). The article is based on the author’s own longitudinal digital ethnography within online influencer territory, and includes mainstream and online media reports and interviews with both mum bloggers and PR practitioners. It is argued that the marketisation of motherhood within a dominant culture of neoliberalism means that practitioners may wrongly assume that mum bloggers are acting freely to engage with entrepreneurial endeavours.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Creative Media, Arts and Design
Publisher: SAGE
Copyright: © 2019 by SAGE Publications
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