Buzz marketing and the loss of authentic self: an investigation of the motivational structure of marketing in the personal sphere and its potential consequences on social relations.

University essay from Lunds universitet/Sociologi

Abstract: I begin my thesis by linking the rise of buzz marketing in recent years to general economic, medial and social developments in society, while mainly focusing on the shift from a modern to a post-modern pattern of production and consumption. I also point out the great symbolic significance that consumption has as a signifier of a personal identity in contemporary society. I then go on to investigate the motivational structure of the specific buzz marketing system of the Swedish marketing firm Buzzador AB. Based on empirical studies and inspired by Karl Marx's theory of surplus value, I map out the basic and advanced motivational structures of the system and on the basis of these structural models I make the point that the motivation of the individual buzz agent to engage in buzz marketing does not solely rely on material gain from the marketing firm, but also on the symbolic capital that can be obtained from the personal network. I further propose that the gain of symbolic surplus value is an important motivational factor for both the marketing firm and its clients. I then go on to discuss the possible consequences of buzz marketing on social relations within the personal sphere. My main point here is that the attempted systematisation of individual consumption is a form of rationalisation within the personal sphere, which may lead to a personal alienation from individual consumption and thereby ultimately to the loss of the authentic self.

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