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  • Neoliberal Impression Management

    Jeremiah Morelock, Felipe Ziotti Narita

    Chapter from the book: Morelock J. & Narita F. 2021. The Society of the Selfie: Social Media and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy.


    This chapter discusses the nexus between digital networks and neoliberal transformations since the 1980s. We describe how on social media, people orient around a variety of metrics in order to build and display their ‘human capital’, projecting their preferred electronic doubles of themselves in order to gain desired recognition from others, and in many cases to network and showcase a ‘professional’ identity directly in the interests of career advancement. We discuss this in light of a theory of ‘neoliberal impression management’, which we introduce in reference to the ideas of Erich Fromm, Erving Goffman, and Michel Foucault. In our theory of neoliberal impression management, a person forges a spectacular self through which their actions and interactions are displayed in ‘public’ view. In doing this, they also amass publicly viewable metrics (likes, shares, followers, etc.) that suggest an ‘objective’ value. This cultural development moves toward self-centeredness, narcissism, and attention-seeking, and away from genuine concern for others and connection with them. This feeds the potential for numbness to – if not outright acceptance of – political cruelty and injustice.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Morelock J. & Narita F. 2021. Neoliberal Impression Management. In: Morelock J. & Narita F, The Society of the Selfie. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book59.c

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on Dec. 14, 2021