Rokka, J. and Canniford, R. (2016), Heterotopian selfies: how social media destabilizes brand assemblages


European Journal of Marketing, 50 (9/10), 1789-1813.


Digital technologies are changing the ways in which the meanings and identity of both consumers and brands are constructed. This research aims to extend knowledge of how consumer-made “selfie” images shared in social media might contribute to the destabilization of brands as assemblages. Insights are drawn from a critical visual content analysis of three popular champagne brand accounts and consumer-made selfies featuring these brands in Instagram. This study shows how brands and branded selves intersect through “heterotopian selfie practices”. Accentuated by the rise of attention economy and “consumer microcelebrity”, the authors argue that these proliferating selfie images can destabilize spatial, temporal, symbolic and material properties of brand assemblages. The implications include a consideration of how selfie practices engender new challenges for brand design and brand management. This study illustrates how a brand assemblage approach can guide investigations of brands at multiple scales of analysis. In particular, this paper extends knowledge of visual brand-related user-generated content in terms of how consumers express, visualize and share selfies and how the heterotopian quality of this sharing consequently shapes brand assemblages.

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