Social labour: exploring work in consumption

Stephanie Anderson, Kathy Hamilton, Andrea Tonner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


This article develops understanding of consumer work at the primary level of sociality in the context of social networking sites. Drawing on ethnographic interviews and netnography, we reveal these sites as distinctive spaces of consumer-to-consumer work. To explain this work in consumption, we introduce the concept of social labour which we define as the means by which consumers add value to their identities and social relationships through producing and sharing cultural and affective content. This is driven by observational vigilance and conspicuous presence, and is rewarded by social value. This draws attention to the variety of work consumers enact within their social lives, indicating that consumer work is broader than previously acknowledged.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-400
Number of pages18
JournalMarketing Theory
Issue number3
Early online date28 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2016


  • consumer work
  • social labour
  • social networks
  • netnography
  • consumption


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