It Takes an iVillage: Gender, Labor, and Community in the Age of Television-Internet Convergence
Given its corporate ownership, iVillage.com constitutes a useful case study of the forces shaping online communities in the midst of what has been identified as television-Internet convergence. Not only does iVillage.com complicate conventional understandings of online communities, it also offers compelling insights into how media corporations construct online markets along lines of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. By positioning online communities as vehicles for the targeted delivery of brand messages, media corporations seek to render these online communities commodities in much the way they have historically sought to render commercial television audiences commodities that can be sold to advertisers. Building on the work of Smythe (1977), Jhally and Livant (1986), Terranova (2000), Andrejevic (2004), Postigo (2009), and Bermejo (2010) this study identifies a new mode of consumer work emerging from these corporate-engineered online communities—the “labor of devotion”—where consumers participate in the promotion of corporate brands through interactive media.