The Authenticity Industries: Keeping It “Real” in Media, Culture, and Politics

Stanford Univ. Nov. 2023. 296p. ISBN 9781503635487. $28. SOC SCI
Media professionals, advertisers, and politicians all strive for authenticity; they want the product or experience (or self) that they are selling to feel real to their consumers. However, authenticity cannot be perceived to be manufactured or manipulated, lest it loses its appeal. Journalist Serazio (communication, Boston Coll.; The Power of Sports) looks at how authenticity is created and sold to people without losing its spark. Drawing on interviews and articles from trade publications, the book probes how a sense of genuineness is created in the industries of reality TV, social media and influencerdom, pop music, commercial advertising, and politics. Serazio identifies strategies that professionals in many fields use to evoke that feeling of sincerity. He asserts that authentic content should not appear to be professionally produced or tested by focus groups; instead, it needs to connect with the average person. He also briefly explores the impact of authenticity on gender, race, and class but not whether the strategies are effective from the consumer’s point of view. The book includes many examples and a list of interviewees.
VERDICT A fascinating, commended academic exploration of the ways in which products and experiences are marketed to consumers.
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