Media and Uncertainty| “We’re All Told Not to Put Our Eggs in One Basket”: Uncertainty, Precarity and Cross-Platform Labor in the Online Video Influencer Industry
There has been a recent proliferation of scholarly interest in the impacts of platformization on cultural industries and labor. This article draws on a longitudinal ethnographic study of the London- and Los Angeles-based influencer community industries (2017–2022) to consider the ways in which the platformized creative worker marks an intensification of the neoliberal worker subject as theorized in more traditional cultural industries. I argue that this industry marks an escalation of conditions of precarity; this research found that the working lives of most content creators are fraught with stress and burnout, and smaller creators in particular are subject to algorithmic discrimination in an industry where visibility is key to success. Contrary to highly celebratory discourses that position online content creation as more open and meritocratic than traditional cultural industries, this is an advertising-driven industry that propels the most profitable creators into the spotlight, resulting in the closing down of mobility. I conclude by considering the opportunities and challenges for reducing this widespread precarity via collective action and regulation.