Edited by Russell W. Belk, Giana M. Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi
Chapter 27: Performing (in) the community: accounting, biopower and the sharing economy
This chapter studies how the discourse of “community” on online platforms in the sharing economy intersects with accounting techniques to construct users as entrepreneurs of the self. Drawing on Foucault’s analysis of biopower, the authors show how referring to a “community” encourages users to display private aspects of their life and authenticity online, engaging their self in the platforms and inscribing life in power relations. They further argue that user-generated reviews constitute accounting techniques that produce calculable spaces (a population of calculated subjects), calculating selves (individuals who start acting as entrepreneurs), and valuations of life itself. Reviewing practices also create visibilities that foster the emergence of norms and rituals through which users reaffirm their belonging to the community. In this sense, accounting techniques perform the community. The authors conclude that community-building through accounting constitutes an advanced form of biopower, turning individuals into entrepreneurs of the authentic and private self.
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