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    Rights statement: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Marketing Theory, 17 (4), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Marketing Theory page: http://journals.sagepub.com/home/MTQ on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/

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Charismatic authority and the YouTuber: unpacking the new cults of personality

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/12/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Marketing Theory
Issue number4
Volume17
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)455-472
Publication statusPublished
Early online date9/02/17
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In this article, we draw upon Weber’s concept of charismatic authority to unpack the appeal that YouTube video bloggers have galvanized among their fan communities. We explore how followers interact to articulate the appeal of British YouTube personalities and consequently, how they contribute to the nature of these ‘new cults of personality’. By observing the content of seven of Britain’s most popular ‘YouTubers’ and engaging in a sustained non-participant netnography of responses to these videos, we argue new cults of personality differ from their traditional counterparts through collaborative, co-constructive and communal interdependence between culted figure and follower. While Weber maintained charismatic authority has its source in the innate and exceptional qualities of an individual’s personality, we submit that in consumer culture’s current era of consent, the ‘culting’ of social actors becomes a participatory venture. We shed light on the fading and routinization of charisma and the dissipation of the relationship between the culted figure and followers.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Marketing Theory, 17 (4), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Marketing Theory page: http://journals.sagepub.com/home/MTQ on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/