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Crowdfunding the Future

Media Industries, Ethics, and Digital Society


Edited By Lucy Bennett, Bertha Chin and Bethan Jones

The concept of crowdfunding, where grassroots creative projects are funded by the masses through websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, has been steadily gaining attention over the last few years. Crowdfunding the Future undertakes a dynamic interdisciplinary approach to the examination of the new, and growing, phenomenon of crowdfunding and its encompassment of digital society and media industries. The book offers a wide range of perspectives and empirical research, providing analyses of crowdfunded projects, the interaction between producers and audiences, and the role that websites such as Kickstarter play in discussions around fan agency and exploitation, as well as the ethics of crowdfunding. With a series of chapters covering a global range of disciplines and topics, this volume offers a comprehensive overview on crowdfunding, examining and unraveling the international debates around this increasingly popular practice. The book is suitable for courses covering media studies, fandom, digital media, sociology, film production, anthropology, audience, and cultural studies.
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3. Exploiting Surplus Labours of Love: Narrating Ownership and Theft in Crowdfunding Controversies


3.   Exploiting Surplus Labours of Love: Narrating Ownership and Theft in Crowdfunding Controversies



Imagine someone who enjoys cooking and throwing dinner parties for friends. Unbeknownst to the host, someone else sets up a ticket booth outside the door to charge guests an entrance fee. In this scenario, everyone remains happy: the host enjoys cooking and socialising with friends, while the guests feel they have received good value and want to contribute to the event. The person charging for tickets is obviously delighted. Yet, as something has clearly gone wrong, under what circumstance would the label “exploitation” still apply despite their general acceptance of the arrangement? In this case, awareness of the ticket-seller at the door would bring the whole situation to a screeching halt with cries of indignation from nearly all parties involved. However, after nearly a decade of efforts to raise public awareness about internet business practices, increasingly the issue is not lack of knowledge, but shifting expectations regarding ownership, investment, and rights in relationships between participants and corporations. Through ideological campaigns aimed at changing the social consensus about ownership and the consumer-producer relationship, companies increasingly seek to turn their customers into co-producers who take all the risks of financing, and spend all the time and energy of creative labour and marketing, then take their rewards in symbolic rather than financial form.

In crowdfunding this split becomes particularly stark as fan investors and corporate investors remain...

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