#Knowyourworth: How influencers commercialise meaningful work

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Studies of meaningful work have proposed that work that holds personal significance and meaning can transcend pay. But how can workers who do not want, or cannot afford, to sacrifice pay for meaning commercialise their work to realise its market worth? We explore this question in the context of social media influencers who participated in the InfluencerPayGap community (an Instagram profile established in 2020 to expose pay disparities in the influencer industry). Combining concepts of worth from the meaningful work literature with a sociological theory of valuation, we identify three enrichment narratives engaged with by influencers to circumvent expectations of performing free labour. Besides illuminating how influencers construct and connect the personal worth of their work with its market worth, we show how these narratives of authenticity, relationality and quantification involve a ‘double loop of enrichment’. Consisting in the interplay between influencers’ own sense of the worth of their work and feedback from their followers and the algorithms of social media platforms, this loop can reinforce and transform but also undermine influencers’ perceptions of the worth and meaning of their work. Our findings contribute to a greater understanding of meaningful work and the valuation of work in non-traditional work contexts.

ZeitschriftHuman Relations
Anzahl der Seiten33
PublikationsstatusAngenommen/Im Druck - 2024

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© The Author(s) 2024.