You are invited to attend an upcoming EMS Public Presentation with PhD candidate, Lee Hair. Lee will be defending his dissertation prospectus. Questions and comments will be invited from the audience, as well as the Dissertation Committee. You can read more about Lee’s research below.
Digital patronage is a relatively new revenue model, popularized by platforms like Twitch and Patreon, in which dedicated fans provide direct, recurrent, and long-term financial support to creators in exchange for small rewards. Digital patronage platforms are an exemplar of the emerging relational economy, in which both creative goods and relational goods are packaged and exchanged for fans’ attention and money. Although communication scholars have investigated creators’ labor in the relational economy, the exact process of how relational goods are commodified and exchanged for money has yet to be explored. This dissertation adds social exchange theory and the sociological concept of valuation to communication research in order to analyze 1) how creators generate and justify the value of relational goods and 2) how they justify the process of relational-economic exchange that characterizes digital patronage. This study’s findings will fill a gap in the communication literature concerning communication-via-money and will advance our understanding of the boundaries of the digital self and digital creative labor.