Hi from Australia!

Hi all!

Not sure if anyone still frequents this page but I just wanted to share with you guys a blog I have been working on!

As part of my university degree back in Australia, I have created a social innovation movement called “Say No to Pesticides & Packets.”

It is a student initiative to promote and encourage students to get involved with food cooperatives and also ethical and sustainable consumption habits. Although only in it’s early stages, it is something I have become really passionate about! And Magda you will also be pleased to know that I am getting so much more confident with this blogging thing! (Much of that I owe to you and coms370)

We have a facebook page and a twitter account as well as a wordpress blog.

I would absolutely love for you guys to get involved and show some support from the Montreal Concordians!

There is also a heartfelt post about Concordia’s own food cooperative Le Frigo Vert (which was introduced to me in a coms370 class!).

Thank you so much everyone and good luck with your studies! Would love to hear what everyone is up to and working on!


Ellyse Saunderson x


Week 12 — Notes

In our penultimate class we moved from branding to a lively and heated discussion of self-branding. Our last readings by Theresa Senft and Alison Hearn, out of everything in the course, are the ones that give us language to self-reflexively think about ourselves, our subject position and our relation to the world, particularly the brand world of consumer culture.

We started with Senft’s exercise “flesh, image, icon, brand” as a way to think about ourselves and our image as a semiotic object and also as a commodity. This was also to get us thinking about us, and Goffman’s (1967) concept of “face work” which Hearn brings up in her article. Erving Goffman wrote about face in conjunction with how people interact in daily life. “He claims that everyone is concerned, to some extent, with how others perceive them. We act socially, striving to maintain the identity we create for others to see. This identity, or public self-image, is what we project when we interact socially.”

Further, Amelia Jones (2006) asks: “How does the image relate to the self? How are imaging technologies linked to ideological conceptions of seeing and knowing that, in turn, define the subject in Euro-American culture?”  As Katherine Hayles also argues, “technology not just mediates but produces subjectivities” (Jones, 2006, p. 44). In other words, how our these new image based social networks such as Instagram, Snapchat, tumblr, etc. linked to the ideological conception of seeing and, in turn, defining subjectivity?

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The Secret Science of Advertising



Hopefully not so secret to those of us who are taking this class this semester. But in case you were still skeptical, here’s a form of advertising broken-down.

Although we have spent most of the semester breaking down ads, thought this video had a few new things to say. I also thought it was interesting the statement at the beginning which asks “does advertising really work? U.S. companies spend over 170 Billion on advertising every year so they seem to think it does”. So again, if anyone was still skeptical about whether ads had an effect on them or not, well, do you really think companies would be spending that much money on advertising if they weren’t sure it did?

We did discuss semiotics, but I liked the discussion of color in this video. It is interesting to think we can associate meanings with something just because of the color it is.

Hope this can add something to what we’ve discussed this semester!

Cashmere Commercial


Cashmere Commercial

This commercial shows women in three different settings: “oriental”, Greek, and modern “Western”. Lastly we see a women wrapped up in TOILET PAPER. First, Bell Hooks could possibly argue that this ad appropriates cultural signifiers: a Greek sculpture, oriental music are used in this ad, but they are taken out of their historical context. A pretty controversial idea to sell by clothing women in toilet paper and having them cuddling with it!

Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BpSORQgSA4

Dove makes another mistake: “normal skin” on their bottles

I was doing some research for a paper for another class, and I came by an article about Dove. This lotion bottle was “accidentally” marked “normal to dark skin”. I had not heard about this, but it reminded me of our discussion in class, the time we analyzed the gradient Dove ad. It seems this ad has reassured us that our racist reading of the ad was correct. Eek. For more info you can visit:
Dove Lotion "Normal to Dark Skin"

National protest | April 3

National protest

2014 Budget:
The Rich Must Pay
Their Fair Share

April 3rd 2PM | Berri Square



Grande manifestation nationale contre les mesures d’austérité et pour un budget plus égalitaire.

L’ASSÉ invite l’ensemble des étudiants et des étudiantes, des travailleurs et des travailleuses, et des familles du Québec à descendre dans les rues de Montréal le jeudi 3 avril prochain, à 14h à la Place Émilie-Gamelin (métro Berri-UQÀM).

L’austérité est une idéologie dangereuse: en voulant rembourser une dette qu’on nous présente comme énorme alors qu’elle ne l’est pas, le gouvernement du Parti Québécois se permet de couper et de facturer tous les services publics, de l’éducation à la santé en passant par l’hydro-électricité.

Pourtant, il existe des alternatives. En faisant contribuer les entreprises, les banques et les plus riches d’une manière équitable, il est parfaitement possible de financer des services publics accessibles et de qualité.

Cette année, nous refusons un autre budget d’austérité.

Budget 2014: Aux riches de faire leur juste part.


Flesh, image, icon, brand: The Selfie and the Ethnographer: * (2011)

Notes from a talk I gave in Manchester, two years ago (*It wasn’t titled that, then) 

by: Theresa M. Senft  terri.senft@nyu.edu

1.    Put your hands on either side of your face, close your eyes, and imagine your face in your hands. Now, take a photo of your face, or have someone else do it.

2.    I want to begin this talk by asking you to think about your face in three ways: as flesh, as image, and as icon. By icon, I mean a symbol consistent enough so that it is recognizable to others. If an iconic version of our face begins to accrue force in capitalist markets, we may wish to begin thinking about it at a fourth level: as brand.

3.    Flesh, image, icon, brand. It seems to me that anyone who studies the presentation of self in social media spaces is going to have to negotiate all these terms, simultaneously, with every subject they encounter. Who owns my flesh, my image, my icon, my brand? In the age of remix, is ownership the issue? Or is something else at stake?

4.    In this talk, I want to share some experiences I’ve had with these questions as an ethnographer, touch on some recent cases in the press worth thinking about, and finally, turn things over to you, your thoughts, your plans, your research.

5.    I first began grappling with notions of flesh, image, icon, and brand almost twelve years ago as a PhD student. At the time, I was while researching a book on camgirls: young women who broadcast their lives over the Internet. Back then I was trying to describe how camgirls utilized still images, video,blogging and cross-linking strategies to present themselves as a coherent,branded packages to their online fans.

6.    Since that time, the discourse of “brand me” has exploded into the public sphere: check the business section of any bookstore, and you will see at least half a dozen titles exhorting the importance of self-branding. When I writing Camgirls, I wound up coining the term micro-celebrity, which I define as the commitment to deploying and maintaining one’s online identity as if it were a branded good, with the expectation that others do the same.

7.    When people request examples of micro-celebrity practice, I respond by asking them to consider what they themselves do online. Have they have ever agonized over whether something belongs on a work on home web site? Worried about privacy settings on a social networking service? Read a web site devoted to “praying for” or “in memory” of someone? All of these are part and parcel of micro-celebrity.

8.    Let’s bring this back to our room. A few minutes ago, I asked you put your hands on your face. I then asked you to photograph your face. I’d like you to look at that photograph,now, and think about whether you would post that as your icon on Facebook or Twitter? I was recently at an Amnesty International photo exhibit with students, where we looked at close-up after close-up of women from war-torn countries. English narration below each photo let us know where these unmade women were from, and what their stories were—insofar as they interested the Amnesty folks. Later, we came on corner of the room with a camera, where Amnesty visitors were invited to have their photo taken and posted on a Wall of Support. Although all of my students had no problem staring into the pores of the suffering rendered in photographs all around them, none of them would submit to having a photo taken themselves.

9.    Needless to say, we spent the next class talking at length about that, and I learned that much of the students’ reluctance had to do with the fact that increasingly, they believe that when one submits to a photo volitionally—as opposed to being shot by a reporters camera in a war-torn country—one has an obligation to present a best self. Had they known they would be photographed, they argued, they would have prepared, but to be asked on the spot? This felt like a bit of an assault. How would the photo be used after they submitted it, they wanted to know? Would their face wind up in an advert for Amnesty? Would they be allied with apolitical campaign they didn’t know if they supported? Why exactly was their photo needed, and why should they trust that Amnesty’s endgame was something they agreed with, sight unseen?

10.  These are good questions, and I would argue, ones that come from a time of social media. In my last book, I argued that rather than using the filmic gaze or even the televisual glance to understand social media, we are better served by the word “grab.” I chose the word because of its relation to tactility: grab means to grasp, to seize, to capture, to touch. As a concept, grabbing has overt political dimensions: consider the expression “screen grab,” in which an image,sound, or line of text is excised out its original context and often sent traveling the internet, spinning into what danah boyd calls the super-public sphere, beyond geography, intention, and even time. Obviously, grabbing can have profound racial, sexual and age-based dimensions, and throughout history,I think it is fair to say that certain bodies have been the grabbers; others grabbed.

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Old Spice Under My Skin: Notes on Viral Marketing in “Post-Racial” America

As we think about social media for our last module and think about microcelebrity and branding, it’s important to stay focused on other issues we discussed throughout the term, such as race politics. Here is another essay by Terri Senft. I recommend reading everything and anything by her. 

Dr. Theresa M. Senft, New York University

 Two years ago, I gave a talk at the 2011 South by Southwest Interactive Conference (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. The talk concerned the most successful viral advertising campaign to date: Isaiah Mustafa’s performance as the “Old Spice” guy. Addressing a room full of interactive media professionals, I asked, “What was it about this campaign that got people excited in ways they hadn’t been before?”  The question was largely rhetorical: all week, people had been discussing the excellent writers at advertising agency Wieden+ Kennedy, Mustafa’s wonderful acting, the lightening speed at which the production team delivered Mustafa’s video responses to fans, and the way the campaign seamlessly integrated television with online venues like YouTube, Twitter and Reddit.

My second question was, “What should we make of the fact that Isaiah Mustafa wasn’t just a handsome and funny half-dressed ex-professional football player, addressing women in a voice that sounded like it belonged to a Shakespearean actor—he was an African American doing all these things?” Where my first question opened a floodgate, this one seemed to suck all the energy out of the room. I was met with silence, and then resistance. “It’s not that we’re racists,” one (Asian American) male in the audience explained to me. “It’s that in advertising, race isn’t something we think about.”

Of course, race is something advertisers think about, along with gender, education, and a slew of other factors. Advertisers think about race and market demographics, they think about race and purchasing power, they think about race and brand identity.  Other conversations came and went that SXSW, but this one stayed with me. For months, I was bothered that someone could accuse me of accusing them of racism, simply because I asked about how racial signifiers might have affected the success of a viral ad campaign. You might say the accusation got under my skin.

I’ve got you under my skin.

I’ve got you deep in the heart of me.

So deep in my heart, you’re really a part of me.

I’ve got you under my skin

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Week 12 Presentation: The Branded Self as a Form of Free Labour

Garrett Lockhart, Mariah Andrews, Andrew Lorant, Ellyse Saunderson

This week we were given the task of exploring the branded self as a form of free labour, with reference to works by Alison Hearn and Theresa M. Senft.

Alison Hearn explores the phenomena of ‘self-branding’ and the unclear boundaries between product, consumer and identity. She explains the relationship between post-Fordist capitalism and the notions of the self being indicative of production and consumption practices following the 20th century. Defined as the “self-conscious construction of a meta-narrative and meta-image of self through the use of cultural meanings and images drawn from the narrative and visual codes of the mainstream culture industries,” it touches on concepts we have previously explored including Barthes’ theories of myth-making, Stuart Hall’s explanation of signs and symbols and the Frankfurt School’s ideas of the ‘culture industry.’

Hearn discusses three inflections of branding—the first being a common marketing practice linking products to cultural meanings. Images and logos are an example of this as they are created as a means of social brand identity for the consumer to engage with. The second inflection explains branding as a “cultural resource” which can be used by individuals and groups to define themselves. Lastly, the third inflection defines ‘brand’ as a “value generating form of property” in itself. A brand can be recognised and coined by corporate practices such as trademarking.

She explains self-promotion and the rise of self-improvement and management literature and how this relates to branding. Post-Fordism introduced ‘flexible accumulation’ which describes the need of organisational flexibility and production as a result of industrialism. This relies heavily on the consumption of symbols and product images, design and marketing. In this light, branding can be seen as “materialising the political economy of sign” (Goldman and Papson, 2006:328). The flexibility of organised networks introduced a new value system, fueled by self-fulfillment and self-justification according to capitalist ideals. Success became dependent on the packaging of the self and a worker’s image. The worker becomes even more commodified and is now a product with “features and benefits” to sell to the “customer.” However with this comes limitations and rules which will restrict the ways in which you are encouraged to ‘brand’ yourself. The worker is shaped by market discourse, therefore acting with “political maneuvering, competition and cynicism” (Lair et al. 2005: 335-36).

Hearn goes on to talk about how reality TV can either be a narrative on how to become a celebrity or to look like a celebrity in your daily life. Reality TV also gives contestants an opportunity for fame and to commodify themselves as celebrities. Even in 1953 there was a law passed stating that fame was a commodity since celebrities can endorse a product and have the value of said product sky-rocket. Unfortunately the branded-self that we see on television is not necessarily the true person that we are watching on the television set. The producers of these reality shows edit clips and show the viewing population what they want the viewers to see, not the whole truth.

The internet is also a massive area for the consumer population to create their own self brands, through sites such as 2night.com or universityparty.ca or even social media sites such as facebook or myspace. The first two are examples of websites that take pictures at parties and then post for the world to see making you the celebrity and brand. The second 2 sites are controlled by the user to create their own self image with the core goal of being to get the most friends possible, because when it comes down to it that’s really what facebook is: a competition to see who can get the most “friends” possible. This function however turns people into a commodity to be collected and and used. This also works in the reverse fashion where employers and other people can view your profile as a commodity and you are no longer an individual like you originally thought. Self branding is “the process by which people transform nature into objects of their imagination” (Burawoy, 1979).

The second article, Theresa M Senft’s “Microcelebrity and the Branded Self,” explores the concept of online identities and the ways in which the internet is used are analyzed from a critical perspective.  She introduces her paper through describing the notion of identity crisis; she later proposes to speak of a relatively new form of self on the internet, as ‘microcelebrity’, through the lens of this crisis.

She goes on to explain how identities function at three different ways online: the identity of the internet itself, the identity of the internet user, and the ways in which the users use the internet.  The “Internet as a Marketplace” paragraph of the essay explains the confusing, ambiguous language surrounding how the internet is used by individuals.  The terms ‘produser’ and prosumer are brought up in describing how users create, steal, remix, sell, pass on, and consume media.

The second half of Senft’s article focuses on the branded self online, the ways in which users curate their content, and the idea of a ‘subculture star’, while drawing from the ideas of Andy Warhol and blogger Momus.  Senft then begins to uncover her ideas on immaterial labour and the “Attention” economy, arguing a switch from being a consumer to producers of attention.  Under this section, she also explains how an individual can become a corporation—how the private can turn public.  With this shift, Senft introduces two more terms: the super-public and strange familiarity.  The super-public, she explains, can be used to describe audiences that cannot be conceptualized yet, as one speaks across time and space.  The second term, strange familiarity, can be described as a familiarity that arises from being shared private information with people we are removed from.

Senft’s article provides important information regarding the ‘new self.”  With the rise of online personalities, brands, and publics, a critical analysis of the relationships of micro-celebrities and the internet must be done to provide insight on how the internet will shape and form identity in the future.


1. How do you self-brand yourself? Are you aware of the ways you self-brand?

2. How does your personal value change from online representations of yourself to the ‘real’ you?

3.Does your online identity fluctuate based social media trends?



I was intrigued by what we mentioned last week in class about organic products so I looked into the issue. I found out that Stanford University conducted a research on whether organic foods are more beneficial to our health then “conventional” foods. The result is: <They are NOT! So organic products on average are no more nutritious than their far cheaper counterparts. Moreover, these organic produces are not less likely to be contaminated by pathogenic bacteria. Pesticides that treat natural food are no more harmful either than organic pesticides, which actually pose the same health risks. Rotetone, a  chemical compound, which is toxic to humans can be in fact found in these organic pesticides. The study also shows that organic is worse for the environment and for workers: often times it is women and children who will have to do the hard labour of taking care of the crops-weeding, manually instead of chemicals.<

“Organic has long since become an ideology, the romantic back-to-nature obsession of an upper middle class able to afford it and oblivious, in their affluent narcissism, to the challenge of feeding a planet whose population will surge to 9 billion before the middle of the century and whose poor will get a lot more nutrients from the two regular carrots they can buy for the price of one organic carrot.”

Roger Cohen, New York Times columnist

you can find the medical study here: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1355685

and the environmental: file:///C:/Users/Klara/Downloads/Does+organic+farming+reduce+environmental+impacts-+e+A+meta-analysis+of+European+research.pdf

Hello American Apparel!


I have to admit that I love to read gossip blogs and websites such as Perez Hilton for example. That is where I saw this new ad for mini skirts on the American Apparel website.

I know we have spoken a lot about rape culture in advertising and how women are usually sexualized in ad’s  but when I saw this ad it just shocked me and hit me again how crazy some advertisements are.

To me this ad is not trying to show the skirt but instead show a person what the skirt looks like when worn and while bending down. Does this not cross the a certain border? In a couple of articles and comments I have read about this ad, there has been an agreement that American Apparel has always had controversial ads but this is a “new low” even for them.

Having a girl bend down like that can allow people to have different ideas about the skirt. Do all girls with this skirt bend down like that pretty much saying, hello there, here I am?

I just thought I should post this ad because it shocked me so I thought it might shock you guys as well!!

P.S: I wonder how the models feel when working for American Apparel…

Week 11 — Notes

We started class with a scene from The Devil Wears Prada, in which Andrea receives a biting astute lesson on the fashion industry and its totalizing influence on everyone’s fashion choices. We must also remember that ‘brand culture’ isn’t just about ‘fashion brands’ but that it’s part of the fabric of everyday life. Whether it’s calling tissues Kleenex©, or sticky notes Post-Its©. Similarly, consumer culture isn’t simply about consumption and over-consumption but the ways in which we participate in a consumer culture with all of our daily actions (even something as banal as eating a tomato has a complicated social life implicated in the capitalist system).

We discussed some of the key concepts and terms in Adam Arvidsson’s 2005 essay ‘Brands: A critical perspective’ in which he takes a Post-Marxist and autonomist perspective in thinking about brands and brand culture. This piece provides us with a more comprehensive theoretical frame and language in not only thinking about the brand, the mechanics of the brand, and the ways in which we as consumers are interpellated into brand worlds (which we all are), but also for our final projects! Although he doesn’t explicitly make comprehensive links to myth-making with his delineating of brand management, it is quite clear that, that is what is going on – we see myth-making illustrated in our second article by Kniazeva & Belk, which works as an exemplar to Arvidsson’s theories.

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This is a Generic Brand Video

This was a hilarious way to look at how major corporations try to make their ads seems as though they are appealing to the masses when in reality it is just an equation that the marketing teams pieces together in order to make the “best” possible ad they can.

Nike Frees—Object & Identity


1. Meanings commonly associated with object:

active lifestyles

2. What ideologies or cultural values (stylization) might be reflected in these meanings? What systems of power are implicated in these meanings?

The above meanings reflect ideologies of health and fitness. This specific model of Nike shoe is sold within the athletic market, and therefore has a pre-existing marker of what the shoe should and will be used for. By tagging this product as a ‘light, comfortable running shoe,’ Nike markets the shoe to a specific consumer market: the athlete, or the active. However, as you will see, the shoe has since been appropriated into street fashion.

3. Have the meanings of this object shifted over time? (objects have social lives) If so, what historical developments do you think account for the shift?

Yes, the meanings of the Nike Free have shifted over time. Instead of being thought of as a shoe only for running and other physical activities, many people are incorporating it in street and even high fashion. It his hard to track the historical developments of this shift in the meaning and purpose of the shoe by the consumer; however, we are able to view changes that Nike has made to attract the streetwear market. By releasing limited colour-ways and new styles based on the Free (such as the Roshe), Nike has succeeded in tapping into a whole new consumer market.

Image         Image


(Me wearing my Nike Roshes)

4. Would this object hold different meanings in different cultures around the world (or different subcultures within Canada)? What other meanings might it hold?

From the research I have done, I have found that the Nike Free line of shoe is very specific to athletes and those with an interest in streetwear fashion. Shoe collectors, or ‘sneaker heads’ have also shown high interest in the Free line.  This appropriation of a running shoe has produced a ripple effect that has spilled into high fashion.  At Chanel’s F/W 2014 show, the models were wearing mostly sneakers on the runway (see below photo).


Nike Frees are sold all over the world, and big city centres such as London and Tokyo, the shoes are a major piece of streetwear culture.  Because they are quite expensive, usually consumers in the middle to upper classes purchase the shoe.

Levi Strauss’s Jean Jacket



What are the meanings commonly associated with this product? 

Classic American or Western Style// Youth// Durability// Masculinity// Rebellion// “Workers'” clothing// DIY Punk// Indie Culture. 

 What Ideologies or cultural values (stylization) might be reflected in these meanings? What systems of power are implicated in these meanings?Have the meanings of this object shifted over time? (objects have social lives)What historical developments do you think account for this shift?

Levi Strauss’s Jean Jacket has a timeless appeal, that is enveloped with ideals of western voyeurism or exploration. Originally, the jean jacket was marketed for its durability and was sold as “performance gear” that could be used in sporting activities that regular fabric could not endure. Because of this, it became associated with a specific working class, those who needed the durable over the fashionable within their daily activities. in 1930, there was a campaign with the slogan ” Go West, Young Man”, where; “Authentic cowboys wearing Levi’s® jeans are elevated to mythic status, and Western clothing becomes synonymous with a life of freedom and independence”(1). This, of course solidified an image of “western masculinity” with the product, which branded the Jean Jacket as classic American attire and then were marketed to those who wanted the authentic western experience. In the 1950’s, the Jean Jacket was banned from schools, and thus became a symbol of rebellion. The overabundant use of Jean Jackets in TV and Movies changed the meaning of the jacket, where;” the portrayal of denim-clad “juvenile delinquents”… led many school administrators to prohibit denim in the classroom, fearing that wearing the rebel uniform would lead students push against authority in all of its forms”(1). in the 1960s it would be re-marketed as liesure-ware to shed some of its rebellious associations, focusing on rebranding it as “youthful” and “Ahead of its times”, as it was one of the first places to employ interracially. Today, the Jean Jacket has become a classic symbol of  western culture, where its mythic discourse has cemented it within the american popular imagination. To wear a Jean Jacket is to pay hommage to the nostalgic and youthful ideologies orbiting the product.

Here is an evolution of The Levi Strauss Jean Jacket and Marketing Campaigns:


Here is a timeline of Levi Strauss’s Jean Jackets, among other productions:


Would this object hold different meanings in different cultures around the world (or different subcultures in Canada)? What other meanings would it hold? 

To Canadians, denim has been forcibly associated with an asset of our identity, and is pinned as “The Canadian Tuxedo”. This configuration includes wearing denim pants and shirts in combination with each other.

Other Cultural significance is the long lasting association with western ideals of “roughness” and “work”, where denims durability is massively used within labour intensive jobs.  


“Levi’s®.” History & Heritage. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. <http://us.levi.com/shop/index.jsp?categoryId=18816896>.