Mediating American hospitality: Mark Zuckerberg’s challenge to Donald Trump?

Winch, Alison and Little, Benjamin (2021) Mediating American hospitality: Mark Zuckerberg’s challenge to Donald Trump? European Journal of Cultural Studies, 24 (6). pp. 1243-1260. ISSN 1367-5494

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Abstract

In 2017, Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, travelled America with a former White House photographer who took pictures of him sharing meals with families, workforces and refugee communities. These were then posted to Zuckerberg’s Facebook page, usually with a post by Zuckerberg drawing attention to socioeconomic issues affecting different American communities. This article argues that Zuckerberg is mediated on this tour as a worthy populist contender to Donald Trump, albeit of a centrist, liberal, corporate kind. In particular, divisions along the lines of race, migration and class, which have been appropriated and emphasised by Trump, are apparently bridged and resolved through the representation of Zuckerberg, and the promotion of Facebook as a mediated fulcrum for civil society. Zuckerberg is pictured sharing food with, for example, Republican voters in Ohio and Somali migrants in Minnesota. We investigate how the differences projected between Zuckerberg and Trump pivot on the commodification of hospitality, particularly the mediation of shared meals, American hospitality, masculinity and ‘diversity work’. We contextualise this analysis within an understanding of how Silicon Valley’s monopoly capitalism perpetuates inequalities in its workforces and through its product design. We also attempt to make sense of the different social actors involved in Zuckerberg’s mediated ‘Year of Travel’, including the PR team, the people in the photographs, the commenters, as well as the users of Facebook. Through these contextualisations, we argue that this mediated contestation of hospitality – who is welcome in American society, who is not and why – is central to understanding the tensions in contemporary American political culture.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: digital media,donald trump,facebook,hospitality,mark zuckerberg,patriarchy,silicon valley,cultural studies,education,arts and humanities (miscellaneous),sdg 16 - peace, justice and strong institutions ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3316
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Political, Social and International Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Film, Television and Media
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2020 01:23
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2022 01:17
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/77769
DOI: 10.1177/13675494211055736

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