The work of emotion in a digital age: ‘A trust betrayed’, ten years on

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This article explores the legacy of Heather Nunn and Anita Biressi’s germinal 2010 article, ‘A Trust Betrayed’, which provided a hugely generative framework for considering the politics of emotion exemplified in celebrity culture. Focusing on the relational politics of affective revelation, Nunn and Biressi identified the emotional labour of celebrity individuality underpinned by the continual work of self-narrativisation. I briefly highlight the continuing generative elements of this framework in a context of highly mediated public individuality. Digital culture has become even more crucial to the circulation of celebrity, as well as reinforcing celebritised norms of self-presentation in everyday contexts. Biressi and Nunn’s framework of celebrity emotional labour raises important questions about the continuing place of personality on the political terrain of popular culture, and how authenticity, legitimacy and ‘relatability’ in the ascent of social media culture, may be unequally attributed in terms of gender, class and race. In the context of intensifying social inequality and neoliberal ‘commonsense’, I suggest Biressi and Nunn’s framework continues to give us much to consider in terms of self-revelation as an unequally distributed resource of identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-503
Number of pages4
JournalCelebrity Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • affect
  • digital culture
  • emotional labour
  • identity politics
  • therapeutic culture

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