What is Reputation Capital? Character, Power and the Reputation Economy

Rosamond, Emily. 2016. 'What is Reputation Capital? Character, Power and the Reputation Economy'. In: Capital as Power: Broadening the Vista. York University, Canada 28-30 September, 2016. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Since Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler's Capital as Power was published (2009), the co-called reputation economy has flourished. “World 3.0” businesses such as Uber, TaskRabbit and Airbnb offer users access to peer-to-peer shares, services and experiences, scaled up via online platforms. Platform users rely on reviews to determine whom they can trust. Peer-to- peer lending platforms allow borrowers to sidestep banks. “Fintech” startups such as ZestFinance and VisualDNA afford borrowers with poor credit scores better interest rates, using big data analytics to calculate their creditworthiness more effectively than a FICO® credit score. As VisualDNA puts it, “not everyone has a credit score... but everyone has a personality.”1 In this world, reputation and character have been fully operationalized as forms of capital. For Rachel Botsman and other apostles of the reputation economy, data-driven collaborative consumption puts something “human” back into the economy, and empowers individuals, as micro-entrepreneurs, to rely less on corporate infrastructure. For sceptics such as Alison Hearn, the reputation economy, far from diffusing corporate power, merely increases performative pressures placed on neoliberal subjects. What is a definition of reputation capital commensurate with the CasP approach? Can the reputation economy under any circumstances drive toward what Nina Power has termed decapitalism: “cutting off the heads of those who control technology – decapitating capitalism, as it were”?2 Or, is reputation merely another manifestation of power as “confidence in obedience”?3 An answer to these questions, I argue, necessitates an expansion of Capital as Power’s discussion of private regulation to include individuals’ acts of projecting, disciplining and self-disciplining personal behaviour.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


September 2016Completed

Event Location:

York University, Canada

Date range:

28-30 September, 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2017 15:55

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:40



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