University of Hertfordshire

eBay’s Digital Culture: Friction-free Capitalism in a Consumer Heterotopia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTEM 2014:Proceedings of the Technology & Emerging Media Track – Annual Conference of the Canadian Communication Association (Saint Catharines, May 28 – 30, 2014)
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Abstract

This paper examines how the online auction site eBay reflects both the commodified nature of the internet and the medium’s communitarian and participatory character. Making a case for the participatory potential of consumer culture, I suggest that in eBay’s case, commodification does not necessarily preclude participation. I describe eBay’s customer support boards and feedback system in relation to the internet’s communitarian values and describe eBay’s auction pages in terms of the internet’s participatory culture. The second section of this paper is comprised of a case study of two liminal sections of eBay where non-normative retail transactions take place. Through a qualitative observation of eBay auctions for white power music and gay ‘scally’ clothing, I argue that these can be best understood in terms of Michel Foucault (1998)’s notion of ‘heterotopia.’

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