The elusive rationality of celebrity
WithRobert van Krieken
Pages 7

The ‘celebritization of society’ has been a long-term process tied to the increased differentiation of the division of labour, the emergence of mass society and its globalization, which generated ever-longer and more complex ‘chains of interdependence’, to use Norbert Elias’s term. It is certainly true that the operation of the star system is problematic in a variety of ways, so that understanding the logic of celebrity can establish the value of at least some degree of resistance to the centripetal gaze. When one looks closely at how celebrity society has evolved over time, the way in which celebrity configures inequality in particular ways also deserves closer scrutiny. It is true that celebrity solves particular kinds of problems at a variety of levels – social and cultural coordination, shared cognition, a model or reference point for self-formation, a means of attracting attention – but this does not exclude the possibility of finding other ways of responding to those problems.