Neoliberalism, Identity, and Social Media
This chapter proposes the practice of nation branding as a political technology, as an example of neoliberalism in which the definition of national identity, previously assessed primarily by the social sciences and humanities, becomes the domain of business managers and advertising executives, thanks to technologies associated with social media. It explains how the redefinition of social goods, the role of the state, and the role of experts entail the replacement of a more socially driven understanding of identity with an act of commercial prestidigitation by way of nation branding; the pertinent state entities are replaced by advertising and image consultancy firms; and, lastly, scholars of various disciplines are replaced by advertising and PR executives. In short, following neoliberalism, identity is reinterpreted as brand. Identity no longer results from the never-ending and instantaneous negotiation between a multiplicity of parties, representative of myriad aspects relevant to the configuration of individuals and communities, but is rendered instead as the quantifiable, concrete result of a variety of transactions. Through this reformulation, a new relationship is suggested between the idea of nation as imagined community and the reality of the state as a material expression of the concept of nation.
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