Pybus, Jennifer (2011) The Subjective Architects: When Tweens Learn to Immaterial Labor


ARGUMENT

Through voluntary immaterial labour with branded interactive media, the tween is the architect of his or her own subjectivity as a consumer.

SUMMARY

Tweens are defined as ages 8-13.  The market artificially demarcates “Tweens” as a distinct category of youth in order to produce a subject that is willing and ready to consume the tween lifestlye and associated products.  Toys that target tweens are designed to progress them into the teenage (not adult) world.

Marketers involve tweens in the production of content to augment the status of the brand and make it appear more “authentic” (no examples given).  They rely upon tweens to produce cultural materials to attract and create even more tween consumers.  This is how the tween is the architect of his or her own subjectivity as a consumer.  This could be seen as a mutually beneficial relationship because, in exchange, the tween achieves social and cultural capital (status) amongst their peers.

THEORY/METHOD

Lazzaroto (1996) – Immaterial labour defined as “the activity that produces the cultural content” but is not viewed as actual work by the labourer.

Hardt and Negri (2004) – Extend Lazzaroto’s concept of immaterial labour.  Production no longer takes place in the factory.  Capitalism now requires immaterial production to reproduce itself.  (Hegemonic immaterial labour).  Production is now more than just producing commodities, now production aims to produce life (and culture) itself.

CRITIQUE

This argument could be extended to both teens and children – I do not see it as specific to tweens.

This is purely theoretical.  There is no primary research such as description of actual interactive websites or how tweens and marketers interact on them.

HOW TO USE

See Critique – fill in the gap with primary research and apply this theory.

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