Quantum of Value: Entrepreneurial Femininity and ‘Spec’ in the Age of Instagram

Michael Hurt
Aug 14 · 2 min read
Instagram “pay model” Yuri (Instagram @Yuriboler, with 80,000+ followers) poses for an editorial shot for her Instagram. Photo courtesy of Seoul Street Studios)

This article is a followup to two prior articles I have written here: “No free lunches — paying one’s way in ethnographic research” and “Flashed flesh, ‘pay models’ and entrepreneurial femininity in the creative economy of Korean Instagram”. Then, I was talking of my ethnographic explorations into a subculture of sorts, in which “pay models” on Korean Instagram stand at the center of a cultural and monied economy in which models, photographers, and other creatives participate in a truly creative economy that gets several types of social actors what they want and need, in which the picture is the prime currency and mode of social exchange.

But in the article at hand, I would like to talk a bit further about how I use the camera to gain deep access to the inner workings of this unique and exclusive community of creation and learn better how it works.

Points to cover:

  • femininity has been commodified for a long time in Korea, marketized in the time of K-POP, and quantized in the Age of Instagram.
  • “Spec” and Cultural Capital.
  • talk about Critical technocultural discourse analysis and why this is a key theoretical lens through which we can bring the real, contextualized meaning of Korean Instagram modeling world into razor-sharp focus for what it actually is, and not a blurred-at-the-edges, distorted misunderstanding of this world based on what we think Instagram is for Americans living in the aspirational shadow of the Jenners and Kardashians on American Instagram. Because what the Korean Instagrammers may look similar or parallel that. But this is is not that.
Yuri (Instagram @Yuriboler) poses for a headshot in Itaewon. Photo Courtesy of Seoul Street Studios.
Instagram model and photographer Yoon Jihyun(Instagram @chic_cookie_) poses for a picture in Daegu’s Rich Noraebang. She says she is not “not entrepreneurial” herself but “does it for fun.”

Deconstructing Korea

A theoretical consideration of Korean pop culture and society.

Michael Hurt

Written by

A visual sociologist writing, teaching, and shooting in Seoul since 2002.

Deconstructing Korea

A theoretical consideration of Korean pop culture and society.

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