The Construction of Value in Attention Economies

Ashlee Humphreys, Northwestern University, USA
Robert V. Kozinets, York University, USA
This paper investigates the process of constructing value in an attention economy, through a netnography of YouTube. We find that value is created through the amplification of user identities in interactions between several user created roles: fans and celebrities, consumers and producers. Previous research has assumed relatively stable identities in exchange networks such as consumer/fan or celebrity/producer, yet we find that several shifting “market selves” are constructed through the exchange process whereby participants come to view themselves as producers or consumers, fans or celebrities in transactions with members of the community. In addition, we document the evolution of these roles over time, as the exchange network develops and investigate the material and affective process by which an individual transitions from one role to another. These findings have several implications for consumer research. First, this framework can be used to understand transitions between so-called “active” and “passive” consumption, a topic of continual debate in consumer research. Secondly, the findings also illustrate the ways in which users conceptualize “production” activities versus “consumption” activities and use these two semantic concepts to orient their exchange activities.
[ to cite ]:
Ashlee Humphreys and Robert V. Kozinets (2009) ,"The Construction of Value in Attention Economies", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 689-690.