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Thursday, December 5 • 10:30am - 12:30pm
BREAKOUT SESSION FIVE: Sociology

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Chair: Marko Galic 

Stella Pennell: Airbnb hosts: Time /space intensification and surplus meaning under conditions of platform capitalism

Time and space are social constructs that are experienced as intensified objective facts under conditions of digital platform capitalism where boundaries of digital and ‘real’ life are blurred. Digital technologies enable circulation without circulation time – a necessary tendency of capital according to Marx. For Airbnb hosts, engagement with Airbnb results in synchronic, rather than diachronic time, in which ‘now’ events detach the host from a sense of developing history, thus ensuring continued attachment to the platform. Drawing on interviews conducted with 28 Airbnb hosts in four regional tourists in Aotearoa New Zealand, this research demonstrates that Airbnb hosts experience dual intensification of time and space as a series of pressing ‘now’ moments which has both psychical and embodied impacts. These impacts combine to produce surplus meaning. Homes consist of materialities and immaterialities that influence the lived experience of space. Airbnb hosts experience home through a material, spatial sense as a resource able to be mined for monetary gain. Home is also as a site of immateriality which is imbued with affective meaning. Both the physicality and the affective meanings of home change under conditions of platform capitalism in unanticipated ways.


Kyle Matthews: Social Movements and the (Mis)-use of Data: Extinction Rebellion and the 3.5% Rule

The climate change movement Extinction Rebellion argues, from research on civil disobedience, for the ‘3.5% rule’. As presented it is simple maths: if you can mobilise 3.5% of the population in pursuit of a goal then you will always be successful. This has led Extinction Rebellion to focus on mass mobilisation of the population and disruption of capital cities instead of alternative strategies for change. However the data from which the 3.5% rule is drawn relates to the overthrow of autocratic regimes and resisting foreign invasions. While this research is significant, it is unclear whether it applies to Western liberal democratic climate change movements. This raises the question of whether a strategy of mass mobilization and nonviolent disruption is the most successful approach to changing the approach of liberal democracies to the climate crisis. My research not only challenges how research is used by Extinction Rebellion, but also asks how social movements use, transfer, understand, and misuse, research in their work, and what the implications are for academic-activist relationships.


Anthonia Uzoigwe: Food poverty on campus: Understanding the determinants of food insecurity in Aotearoa New Zealand

Hunger is a significant problem in the world, afflicting 821 million people, which represents 8% of the world’s population. The prevalence of food insecurity predisposes millions of people to precarious health conditions, such as malnourishment, child stunting and adult obesity. Food insecurity issues in New Zealand are well documented, and mostly focus on infants and young people. However, less has been documented about tertiary students’ experiences. Current data on food insecurity indicate a significant higher rate among students than the general population in developed countries. In New Zealand, existing research is devoid of literature that focuses exclusively on food insecurity in university campuses- tertiary students are perhaps enduring years of undocumented food insecurity. Given its potential impact, the empirical understanding of this issue is still far too limited, thus a vital focus of research. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative enquiry-using survey, focus group discussion and interview-, this research will investigate the prevalence of campus food insecurity; document campus students’ experience of food insecurity and coping strategies; while also using documentary sources to analyse the determinants of food insecurity in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Maral Salmanpour: Fashion, the Ultimate Illusion: Buying In to the Ideology of Ethical Brands


This research examines how the idea of ‘ethical’ fashion perpetuates an exploitative system. This research examines the way ethical fashion brands use the skills and time of garment workers, and relabels commodities to expand and create further investment opportunities to generate profit. This practice is based on capitalist mechanisms that are unethical in the way they exploit workers. It argues that the fashion industry finds new ways to continue its domination and control of artisans and garment workers by commodifying the culture and crafts of marginalised communities. This commodification and appropriation is framed as an honourable practice but, in reality, it alienates indigenous cultures. Propaganda is spread by advertising collaborations with celebrities to enforce a hegemonic ideology through a philanthropic mask to elevate fair trade fashion in consumer society. Fashion uses crisis to generate panic, anxiety and feelings of guilt in consumers to manipulate consumer behaviour and stimulate the fetishisation of ethically labelled garments. Consumers are sold on the promise that poverty, exploitation and social and ecological problems will be positively changed through their consumption habits. This sedates the critical questioning of the fashion industry and offers consumers a convenient solution that enables them to continue to feed their consumerist desires, while reducing their feelings of guilt associated with ecological and social harms.


Each presentation will be allocated 20 minutes. Additional time for questions and discussion will be available in each stream.

Presenters
AU

Anthonia Uzoigwe

Doctoral candidate, University of Auckland
avatar for Kyle Matthews

Kyle Matthews

PhD candidate, University of Otago
My PhD is on 'Youth Activism in Aotearoa New Zealand: radicalism and the political constraints of neoliberalism'. Doing ethnographic work with young activists on how they conceptualise the strategies and tactics of social change and how 'radicalism' does or doesn't inform their w... Read More →
MS

Maral Salmanpour

PhD Student, University of Auckland
avatar for Stella Pennell

Stella Pennell

PhD student, Massey University
Phd student (sociology) Massey University. Research interest: Airbnb, platform capitalism, digital subjectivity, tourism