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The Belle Gibson scandal: The rise of lifestyle gurus as micro-celebrities in low-trust societies

Baker, S.A. ORCID: 0000-0002-4921-2456 and Rojek, C. (2019). The Belle Gibson scandal: The rise of lifestyle gurus as micro-celebrities in low-trust societies. Journal of Sociology, doi: 10.1177/1440783319846188

Abstract

The Belle Gibson scandal that broke in 2015 is a testament to the growing phenomenon of lifestyle gurus in the twenty-first century. In this article, our aim is not to explain the psychology behind Gibson’s lies. Rather, we focus on the social, cultural and technological conditions that enabled Gibson’s persona to flourish and their impact on contemporary understandings of the self. Lifestyle gurus embody the para-social, trading off the appeal of intimacy, authenticity and integrity. We demonstrate how social media has increased the levels of emotional investment, trust and attention capital in para-social relationships by providing ubiquitous access to native experts and creating the platform to achieve influence and microcelebrity status. Finally, we contend that the growing number of lifestyle gurus providing the public with health advice and scientific knowledge, points to the need to examine critically the social and cultural landscape that enables micro-celebrities to emerge.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Baker, S.A. and Rojek, C. (2019). The Belle Gibson scandal: The rise of lifestyle gurus as micro-celebrities in low-trust societies. Journal of Sociology. © The Author(s) 2019. DOI: 10.1177/1440783319846188.
Publisher Keywords: influencer, intimacy, knowledge, micro-celebrity, social media, trust
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/22109
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