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“just hanging out with you in my back yard”: Mark Zuckerberg and Mediated Paternalism

Ben Little / Alison Winch
Published Online: 2017-12-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0039


In a video that showcases a new Facebook feature, Mark Zuckerberg chats to his users, telling them that he’s “just hanging out with you in my backyard.” In this video-which is on his Facebook page-Zuckerberg discloses the domestic space of his backyard, revealing his interaction with family and friends. Depicted hosting a barbeque while watching the electoral debate, Zuckerberg performs an affective white postfeminist paternity (Hamad, 2014) by talking about hunting, eating meat, and being a father. This video is key in explaining how Zuckerberg affectively models patriarchal power. We argue that this PR exercise (for both him and Facebook which are portrayed as inextricably linked) functions to represent Facebook as enabling an empowered “community,” rather than being just an instrument of data accumulation. In particular, Zuckerberg’s affective paternalism is also a means to recoup and obfuscate patriarchal power structures. Zuckerberg’s Facebook page constructs an intimate paternalism in relation to his domestic sphere, but also to his followers, and this works to legitimate his corporate and global paternalism. The ways in which he is portrayed through signifiers of an emotional fatherhood work to gloss his power as the third richest man in the world.

Keywords : digital; patriarchy; capitalism; Silicon Valley; masculinity


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About the article

Received: 2017-08-05

Accepted: 2017-11-27

Published Online: 2017-12-29

Published in Print: 2018-01-01

Citation Information: Open Cultural Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 417–427, ISSN (Online) 2451-3474, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0039.

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© 2018. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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