Filter bubbles and guru effects: Jordan B. Peterson as a public intellectual in the attention economy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

In this article, we critically reflect on the role of Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson as a public intellectual in an increasingly hybrid, interconnected, and plural public sphere. In today’s attention economy, and in the face of a general climate of scepticism and crisis of expertise, we are faced with the limits of the liberal ideal of the public intellectual who filters information for the public. In fact, we argue, the public intellectual can in some cases come to function as a creator of filter bubbles instead of furthering democracy. We analyse Peterson’s writings and public performances in order to illustrate this, focusing on the particularities of his rhetoric and dramaturgical strategies. First, we discuss his misreadings and misrepresentation of ‘postmodernist’ thought. Then, we examine the non-verbal aspects of his performance, in order to unpack his appeal by examining his affective strategies. Last, we apply theory from the cognitive sciences, most notably relevance theory and the guru effect, to examine Peterson’s rhetoric and the strategies he uses to inspire trust in his audience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages18
JournalCelebrity Studies
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Attention economy
  • CELEBRITY
  • Jordan B
  • Peterson
  • performance
  • public intellectual
  • relevance theory

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