Gary Yeritsian is a sociologist whose research interests include media, culture, and social theory. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at UCLA. Gary’s dissertation explores the contested dynamics of participation ‘from above and below’ among cultural audiences. At UCLA, this research has been supported by the Mangasar M. Mangasarian Fellowship and Dorothy L. Meier Dissertation Fellowship, among other prizes. He has taught undergraduate courses on classical and contemporary social theory, urban and economic sociology, self and society, and Marxism and critical theory. He received a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Southern California. Outside of academia, Gary’s interests include film, classical music, and ‘true crime’ docuseries.
Gary’s dissertation, titled Participation From Above and Below: The Contradictions of Audience Participation, From Video Games to Social Media, encompasses a number of case studies which deal with the activity of ‘users’ and audiences. It charts the contestation between participation from above, as managed by cultural producers, and participation from below, as an expression of potentially autonomous audiences.
One chapter, published in Critical Sociology as ‘Capitalism 2.0’: Web 2.0 Manifestoes and the New Spirit of Capitalism, explores social media as a novel instantiation of the ‘new spirit of capitalism,’ reliant on the participatory ‘digital labor’ of users. It draws upon an empirical analysis of managerial texts to theorize the ideology and practice of contemporary social media platforms.
Another, published in Journal of Consumer Culture as Participation From Above and Below: Brand Community and the Contestation of Cultural Participation, explores the case of professional wrestling fan culture, arguing that wrestling is a fundamentally participatory cultural form in which a) producers mobilize and activate audiences from above and b) audiences have the capacity to participate in unruly and unsanctioned ways from below. Theoretically, it shows that brands seeking to engage consumers, users, and audiences can be caught off guard by their autonomous potentialities. A blog entry about the article can be found here.
Gary is also working on a study that utilizes in-depth interviews and newspaper archives to understand the sociocultural impact of 1970s U.S. home video games, an early instance of participatory media. Additionally, he has published on the relationship between Nietzschean thought and the artistic and social critiques of capitalism.
Gary’s next project, planned as a book, is titled A Brief History of Social Time: Media and Temporality From the Printing Press to the Internet