Thursday, 12 September 2013

Celebrities, Me and a Specular Economy

The specular economy - if you're on social media, there's a very good chance you're involved in some way.

Kevin Rudd takes a 'selfie' with a high school student
(Source: AAP/Bob Iddon)
Marshall describes the specular economy as 'where collectively we are becoming more conscious of how we present ourselves and how others perceive us'. These 'idealised representations of ourselves' are no longer presented through traditional mediums such as television or magazines, but through new arenas which have evolved through the Internet and mobile communication (Marshall 2010, pp. 498-499).

The rise of social media platforms - such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - has given rise to new ways in which people can construct and adapt their very own identity online.

Indeed, all types of people have been involved in this process, from celebrities to everyday people like yours truly - each with varying reasons for doing so.

In a current example, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has utilised new online media to build large followings. Arguably, the most successful of these ventures is Rudd's Twitter page, which has more than 1.39 million followers at the time of writing (Twitter 2013).

Speaking during the recent Australian federal election, Matthew McGregor, a British social media expert who worked for Labor during the recent campaign, said Rudd uses social media to engage - even if this does include some oft-derided 'selfies' (Taylor 2013).

Conservative: I do my best to ensure content on my Twitter page is appropriate and 
does not negatively reflect on me (Source: Supplied)
This claim is supported by academics Walsh and Black (2013), who draw a link between Rudd's social media use and an attempt to win over votes from, particularly, Australia's youth.

Rudd demonstrates engagement in the specular economy through the consciousness of his own public presentations on new online media.

As previously mentioned, Rudd is certainly not alone in this regard.

I, too, am very aware of what content I publish on my social media profiles.

Given my desire for a future career in the media - and, also, not wishing to be seen as unintelligent, immature or, even, unstable - I find it imperative to protect my public image in as many ways as possible.

In practice, this means an attempt to avoid making comments on Twitter that involve swearing or, furthermore, may be perceived as crude. Whilst, on my Facebook page, I ensure photos of myself are mostly respectful or tactful, and that comments I post are grammatically correct. Recently, I even unliked numerous pages which could be seen as distasteful.

Although the gap in followers between celebrities like Kevin Rudd and everyday people like myself are quite substantial, it is evident we all share some degree of consciousness over how we present ourselves, particularly when it comes to online media.


Marshal, P.D 2010, ‘The Specular Economy’, Society, vol. 47, no. 6, pp. 498-502.

Taylor, L 2013, 'Coalition digital campaign 'slick' but Rudd selfies more engaging', The Guardian, 11 September, retrieved 12 September 2013, <>.

Twitter 2013, 'Kevin Rudd', retrieved 12 September 2013, <>.

Walsh, L & Black, R 2013, 'Finding the missing youth vote', The Conversation, 14 August, retrieved 12 September 2013, <>.


  1. Hi Rusty,
    I think your post of this week's topic is well done. You give a clear content about what is celebrity with using Kevin Rudd as the example. In the election of former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd uses new online media as the platform to gain more votes. You also draw your personal experiences when you using online media such as Facebook and Twitter. This shows a relative engagement in you and specular economy. I agree with your opinion that we all share some degree of consciousness over how we present ourselves. Anyway, good job and keep going!

  2. I really enjoyed your discussion about the specular economy and self presentation through different social media platforms. Your link to the recent election campaign is a very timely example and highlights the influence of 'celebrity' figures on the rest of our social media habits. I agree that everyone is actively constructing their own online identity, or at least considering what they do and don't upload/post. Using your own online activities as an example of the specular economy shows a clear understanding of the concept, and ability to reflect on your own online personality. I look forward to reading more posts, well done!

  3. I enjoyed reading your discussion on this topic and quite agreed with the state you highlighted that both celebrities and average people have the conscious of the presentational ourselves on social media. The post was well-organized. How Rudd used Twitter to interact with the public in the election is very effective example for this post which supported the main point. Also, your personal experience of using Facebook and Twitter is familiar with every one of us. I think every social media user has experience of constructing a ideal-self through what we say, like, post, comment on the internet. Good post, well done.

  4. Hi Rusty,
    Great post, it read well and it’s evident you have a sound understanding of Marshall’s reading and theories explained. The example of Kevin Rudd is a great one, he is one of those people who is a little left of centre for a typical ‘celebrity’ however he does seem to have a cult following. You have made the topic really easy to understand with your use of references and examples. I like how you have also incorporated your personal examples, I can whole heartedly relate to you on being grammatically conscious!

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  5. Fantastic post Rusty! This made me want to read more of your posts from the past. Your writing style is engaging, articulate and humorous – you were able to bring a bit of your personality to the piece, well done. The example of Kevin Rudd is a great way to engage with the topic given that a few years ago we would not have had such an intimate interaction with politicians as we do now thanks to social media. The way compared how you participate in the production of your online identity with that of Kevin Rudd was clear and concise. You have clearly engaged with all the elements of the blogging task (concept, definition, exemplification & Discussion), and demonstrated a personal understanding of the specular economy. Good work.

  6. Hey Rusty

    This is a great post as it details the issue on a well known level with Kevin Rudd before you speak of your own online identity and how you are perceived. It's well written and I found myself entertained with the tone of your writing, its witty and engaging. The content itself was informative and easy to read and articulate. The post touches on several good points with online identity, it is certainly true Kevin Rudd has been a pioneer with social media and this is well written in your piece.

  7. Hi Rusty,

    Thanks for a producing a great post on this weeks topic of celebrities and the media. I really liked the use of Kevin Rudd, especially the example of him grabbing a "selfie" with a student. This is an awesome example of high profile people in the media, using social and mobile media to their advantage to create the ideal perception that they desire! Really interesting and informative read.