Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"The Labor of Cute: Net Idols, Cute Culture, and the Social Factory in Contemporary Japan" lecture at University of Pittsburgh, October 17.

On October 17 from 4:30 to 6:30, Dr. Gabrielle Lukacs will lecture on "The Labor of Cute: Net Idols, Cute Culture, and the Social Factory in Contemporary Japan". The lecture will be in the English Nationality Room of the Cathedral of Learning, with a reception to follow.

Dr. Lukacs is an assistant professor in the Anthropology department, and this particular lecture has been going around for a year. In 2010 Dr. Lukacs presented on similar topics, "The Net Idols: Cute Culture, Social Factory, and Neoliberal Governmentality in New Millennial Japan" at Pitt:
In this presentation, I analyze a recent Japanese phenomenon, what is called the net idols—young women who produce their own websites featuring personal photos and diaries. Many net idols earn an income from maintaining these websites, thus I understand them as new labor subjectivities that have evolved in late 1990s Japan in response to the deregulation of labor markets and unprecedented developments in new information technologies. Mastering cute looks and embracing cute behavior are key to the popularity of net idols. While the culture of cute has drawn considerable scholarly attention in recent years, it has been dominantly understood as a form of resistance to work-oriented adult society, a retreat to childhood—a space within which young women find redemption indulging in infantile play and passive behavior. By contrast, I draw on the Italian autonomists’ theory of the social factory to analyze the net idols’ production of cute culture as symptomatic of the ways in which the meanings, forms, and conditions of work have changed as intangible commodities (such as cute) have become the new center of economic gravity in the wake of growing economic volatility. Equally important, by analyzing the net idol phenomenon I also aim to theorize an emerging form of rationality (the foundational logic of neoliberal governmentality) within which individuals accept and even celebrate the end of job security as a marker of a shift from the postwar order of “working to find pleasure” to the neoliberal imperative to “find pleasure in work.”

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