University of Limerick
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Fashion models as cultural intermediaries: the mobilisation of affect

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posted on 2022-09-20, 09:09 authored by Patrick P. Lonergan
This research thesis consists of a theoretical and empirical exploration of cultural mediation. It articulates current conceptualisations while also questioning the mystified nature with which cultural intermediaries are dealt in Consumer Culture Theory (CCT). Adopting a non-representational approach, this research augments current representational descriptions by analysing what cultural intermediaries of high fashion do when they frame aesthetic consumption experiences as legitimate and desirable. Despite their significant influence on consumption, current theorisations in CCT have been limited to describing cultural intermediaries as ‘sorcerers’, who possess a magical capacity to bewitch consumers and leave them spellbound. A non-representational mode of theorising does not explicitly focus on the meaning embodied by these agents, but rather deconstructs this ‘magical’ veil by following the embodied processes that mobilise affect. I conceptualise affect as a trigger for bodies’ imaginative consumption and a core influence on bodies’ inevitable interpretation of meaning. It is an ineffable, embodied and contagious life energy that invokes a change to bodies’ dispositions and perceptions of reality. In a late capitalist, affective economy, value derives from cultural intermediaries’ expert capacity to frame the consumption experience for bodies in relation by forging an emotional tie. This thesis adopts narrative inquiry and personal introspection to trace intermediaries’ embodied processes that mobilise affect and to contextualise the impact felt upon being affected. I conclude that cultural intermediaries mobilise affect by acting as conduits for the flow of contagious energies that pervade the atmosphere. In doing so, they evoke an affecting presence that works with imagining technologies to impact bodies in relation through the effortless modulation of affective flow. The result of such enchants bodies’ and frames the aesthetic consumption experience as one that has become elevated to an authentic, transcendent reality.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Patterson, Maurice

Second supervisor

Lichrou, Maria





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