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Authenticity of consuming in contemporary american culture

Authentic Lives, Authentic Times: We seek to perform authentically, to consume authentic products and to be authentic people.

To describe something as inauthentic is the critic's cruellest barb, implying that the product or person under review is contrived, insincere, or at worst, soulless. It is in this context that ethical ideals of authenticity—wrapped in notions of self-discovery, self-fulfilment and personal improvement—come to play a central role in modern Western culture.

While Taylor posits that authenticity can be a worthwhile moral ideal, it has tended to get a bad wrap in much cultural diagnosis. From Lasch to Bauman, authenticity is routinely linked to narcissism and declining care for others. We wanted to curate an issue that captured the concrete and situated ways in which authenticity is mobilised in everyday life and use this to interrogate the meaning and consequences of authenticity for contemporary living.

We asked for papers to investigate the significance of authenticity across diverse areas of media and culture.

The result is an exciting collection of articles that address authenticity from a variety of angles that draw upon established and innovative empirical sources, including blogs, internet forums, reality TV, radio transcripts, interviews and focus-groups.

Our feature article by Patrick Williams and Xiang Goh offers an emotionally powerful account of how discourses of authenticity are constructed on a breast cancer Internet forum.

Using qualitative research methods, the article analyses two key dimensions of authenticity: Nicholas Hookway and Akane Kanai also use online mediums to excavate contemporary applications of authenticity. Kanai engages with the topic of authenticity as it applies to Tumblr blogs, arguing that they produce a concept of authenticity constituted in tension between individuality and belonging.

The following three papers address the significance of authenticity in relation to work, religion and authenticity. Sara James shows that constructions of authentic selfhood in relation to work can offer existential answers to questions of meaning in disenchanted times. Steve Taylor looks at how authenticity as originality is claimed by alternative Christian communities and appropriated by mainstream groups in the UK while Ramon Menendez Domingo explores the different meanings that individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds associate with being authentic.

Access Check

The next two papers address the production of authenticity in chat-based radio and reality TV. Kate Ames uses Kyle Sandilands to examine authentic performance in the chat-based radio genre, before Ava Parsemain moves our attention to how authenticity as truthfulness is deployed as a pedagogical strategy in the SBS show Who Do You Think You Are.

Amy Bauder and David Inglis then close out the issue with analyses of country music and wine. Focusing on Bob Corbett and the Roo Grass Band, Bauder offers an ethnographic account of the role of authenticity in country music, arguing that family is used as a central vehicle to authenticate the genre.

Inglis book-ends the issue by challenging readers to consider authenticity in wine production and consumption not simply as a social construction.

Highlighting the importance of developing specific accounts of authenticity, Inglis argues that unlike the example of country music, authenticity in wine is never solely a cultural fabrication. Specifically, Inglis urges us to consider the importance of terroir to authenticity, not simply as the branding of place but also the physical and chemical components involved in wine making.

Putting together such a project involves the support and cooperation of a large numbers of people.

Consuming Traditions: Modernity, Modernism, and the Commodified Authentic

Thanks to the authors for their wonderful contributions, the reviewers for their generous comments and The Australian Sociological Association, Flinders University and the Australian Cultural Sociology group for your support and advice.

This is an on-going project but we feel this issue makes an important contribution to the operationalisation and application of authenticity to the study of self, culture and society. We hope you agree. The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations. Norton and Co, 1979. Vannini, Phillip, and J.

  1. While the current economic boom has allayed consumers' fears for the moment, many Americans have long-term worries about their ability to meet basic needs, ensure a decent standard of living for their children, and keep up with an ever-escalating consumption norm.
  2. This is because there is a significant dimension of consumer desire which operates at the non-rational level.
  3. We seek to perform authentically, to consume authentic products and to be authentic people. Of course, social comparison predates the s.
  4. I do not believe this is the case with household savings.

Authenticity in Culture, Self, and Society.