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Persona Rights in Young People’s Labour of Online Cultural Production: Implications for New Media Policy


Persona Rights in Young People’s Labour of Online Cultural Production: Implications for New Media Policy

Shepherd, Tamara (2012) Persona Rights in Young People’s Labour of Online Cultural Production: Implications for New Media Policy. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

Text (application/pdf)
Shepherd_PhD_S2012.pdf - Accepted Version


This thesis rests on the argument that the social internet as a commercial space is basically subtended by the appropriation of user labour, in the form of what has come to be called “user-generated content” or UGC. Especially it seems for younger people engaged in the labour of UGC, online content creation also inculcates them into an economy of creative labour. As a kind of apprenticeship for more formal creative industry careers, UGC creates value for both online platforms and for the users’ development of a branded online identity.

Identity work – which in this investigation mainly entails negotiating dimensions of age and gender (and to a lesser extent, class, race and ability) – constitutes an integral part of the value of UGC for individual careers as well as for commercial platforms, but also for the broader civic reverberations of online cultural production. Networked production and sociality are becoming more and more central to conceptions of contemporary citizenship alongside those of economic agency. To this end, the commercial imperatives of the social internet that tend to determine persona rights online, namely rights around privacy and intellectual property, demand re-evaluation in light of UGC as a labour practice.

Legislative protections for Canadians’ persona rights are currently under debate, but internet regulation faces a number of challenges and thus should be accompanied by other strategies for bolstering people’s persona rights online. Ultimately, this thesis seeks to enumerate recommendations for policymaking around privacy and intellectual property in UGC environments, but also to suggest ways for young people to retain their persona rights while engaging in the UGC labour of online cultural production.

The research questions guiding this thesis follow from its central goal of re-evaluating internet regulation from the point of view of UGC as apprenticeship labour. As such, the overarching research question asks, how might new media policy approach the issue of user labour in online cultural production to protect persona rights? This question invites an answer in the form of recommendations for policymakers, but the structural constraints of policy as a top-down protective mechanism requires alternative modes of addressing persona rights issues from the bottom-up, for instance in media and policy literacy initiatives as well as in participatory technology design. These conclusions stem from the project’s overview of policy research and scholarly work, but also from its analysis of four case studies that illustrate some of the activities and experiences of users in their early-20s, who are deeply engaged in the labour of UGC.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Shepherd, Tamara
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:March 2012
ID Code:973722
Deposited On:20 Jun 2012 18:04
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:37
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