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Advertorials and "The constitutional guarantees of the modern"

This is an experiment at exploring the intersection of the advertorial and authenticity as an example of modern ontology as outlined by Latour. It's rather theoretical and academic (i.e. quite dense :-|), but I found that there seemed to be a parallel between the way in which Latour described the co-construction of nature and science, and the discourse of authenticity vs. 'commercial' blogging. I would love to hear any feedback from anyone out there who likes to use Latour.

"First guarantee: even though we construct Nature, Nature is as if we did not construct it." (Latour 1993, p.32)

The authentic blog, is seen as something natural - the blogger just has to ‘Be him(her)self’, and the rest flows. The advertorial, on the other hand, is patently not an authentic product.

This apparent contradiction can be resolved in two ways. First, advertorials are accepted as a logical desire to benefit from the work put into the blog, and to refuse money that is on offer would be seen as illogical. The blogger, by doing an advertorial, is obeying - in a sense - the 'way of the world'. It is a necessary evil, a social contract, that limits the freedom of the blogger for an appreciable benefit. Second, the skill of constructing an 'authentic' advertorial is recognised and appreciated – and the inherent authenticity reinstated.

"Second guarantee: even though we do not construct Society, Society is as if we did construct it." (ibid.)

The clients in all instances insist on vetting the final advertorial; in some instances there has been an inability to come to terms, but in general, the clients get what they want. Sometimes they ask that the advertorial not be disclosed as such. From my interviews, it is also clear that most bloggers have come to rely on the extra income, and also to feel obligated in some measure to their agent; thus, most admit that they will avoid being negative - i.e. if they have nothing good to say, they avoid saying something bad also.

"Third guarantee: Nature and Society must remain absolutely distinct: the work of purification must remain absolutely distinct from the work of mediation." (ibid.)

"Purification" is the creation of "two entirely distinct ontological zones: that of human beings on the one hand; that of nonhumans on the other." (ibid., pp.10-11). The purification is maintained and effected by the reassertion of the right of the blogger to do what she wants, and the right of the reader to read what he wants. In this way, either can point to the other as the 'agent of contamination', if need be. The mediation, or translation, is the assertion of authenticity performed either textually by the blogger, or by the reader returning to read the blog and, perhaps, leaving comments or linking from their own blog.

Latour, B., 1993. We have never been modern, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.


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