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Dr David Giles

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Dr David Giles


Department of Psychology

+44 (0)1962 827026

David Giles is Reader in Media Psychology at the University of Winchester. He is the author of Twenty-First Century Celebrity: Fame in Digital Culture (Emerald, 2018) and Illusions of Immortality: The Psychology of Fame and Celebrity (Macmillan, 2000) along with several other books, chapters, and many journal articles on media and psychology. He is co-founder and co-editor of the Taylor & Francis journal Qualitative Research in Psychology and co-founder of the international research network MOOD (Microanalysis of Online Data).


Jung’s concept of the persona is part of his dynamic structure of personality, consisting of a series of archetypes. The persona is a fully conscious archetype that ‘negotiates’ with society on behalf of the self as a whole. So it is not surprising that Marshall and Barbour (2015) and colleagues have used it as a structure to help us understand contemporary (digital) culture, with particular reference to social media profiles. Persona studies has grown out of celebrity studies, which is interesting because until this century most academic theory of celebrity focused on the idea of the ‘star text’ (e.g. Dyer, 1979). The concept of persona, being rooted in a ‘presentational’ rather than representational media, gives agency to the famous individual that had rarely entered into serious studies of celebrity prior to the digital era. If ‘microcelebrity’ is, as Marwick (2015) claims, a practice, it is one that is indulged in by all users of social media today, and one could argue that the subject of celebrity studies has shifted from the ‘sign’ or cipher (e.g. Marshall, 1997) that needs to be filled with meaning by media producers, media texts and audiences, to the practitioner. This creates, I will argue, a larger role for psychology than is allowed for in previous cultural theory around celebrity. In this talk I will discuss social media in relation to Jungian theory as a whole, as well as other psychological theories of self and personhood articulated over the last century (including Freud, Winnicott, Laing, Harré and Gergen), and consider which elements of this literature have the most relevance for understanding the experiences of all of us, celebrities and their audiences included, as we sail through the choppy waters of digital culture.  


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