Vegan Vloggers’ narratives: heterotopias for ending the commodification of animals?

Autor principal:
Estela Díaz Carmona (Comillas Pontificia University)
David Felipe Martín García (Comillas Pontificia University)
Sesión 1, Sesión 1
Día: miércoles, 7 de julio de 2021
Hora: 09:00 a 10:45
Lugar: Online

Social media have been depicted as spaces able to produce heterotopia (Chen, 2018; Rymarczuk & Derksen, 2014). It could be legitimate to expect that the sharing of Vegan experiences by Vloggers in YouTube might develop narratives and make visible alternative practices to the incumbent discourse based on commodification and domination of animals.

This contribution is based on the analysis of 30 vlogs from a global sample of Youtubers reporting about their vegan experience. This corpus is submitted to two analysis: (1) a phenomenological analysis, regarding these vloggers as random consumers; and (2) to critical discourse analysis, regarding them as influencers impacting their audience and potentially contributing to the creation of new frames about veganism and animal commodification.

From the anti-speciesist point of view, the outcome of the analysis is rather pessimistic. One could expect that discourses and practice of sharing one’s so-called vegan experience would pave the way for the advent of heterotopias and the promotion of alternative relationships to commodified animals. However, although the approach of the micro-influencers recruited in the sample does create a specific cultural space to approach veganism, their discourse is rather anthropocentric and, as such, it could be argued that it contributes to a second-order commodification of animals.

Indeed, the central theme in their discourse is their concern for their personal, self-assessed quality of life. Therefore, veganism is virtually downgraded to an optional and somewhat flexible diet-based lifestyle, in a world in which experimenting with lifestyles and sharing one’s experience about personal wellbeing are the real key values. Concern for the (moral) consideration of animals, even though it seems sincerely shared by many of these experiential vegans, gets relegated as a mere (ethical) advantage likely to enhance their quality of life through the prism of eudaimonia.

Palabras clave: Veganism, vloggers, Foucault, heterotopias, Youtube, sustainability, welbeing