YouTube Personalities as Infrastructure: Assets, Attention Choreographies and Cohortification Processes

Rosamond, Emily. 2023. YouTube Personalities as Infrastructure: Assets, Attention Choreographies and Cohortification Processes. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 24(2), pp. 254-282. ISSN 1600-910X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

YouTube, the world’s most popular online video sharing and social media platform, is filled with personalities. Lifestyle bloggers, hobbyists, self-styled newscasters and exercise instructors add flair to what they share, carving out a niche in a crowded field. Typically, personality is understood as something that belongs to its bearer. But how might it be possible to analyze YouTube, starting from the opposite proposition: that the ‘YouTube personality’ is not so much a property of the persons featured, as it is a property of the platform itself? This article argues that on YouTube, personalities become estranged from their ostensible bearers, becoming platform infrastructure. YouTube not only broadcasts personalities; it renders personalities operational. YouTube personalities act as assetization infrastructure, in that they continually compensate for the poor terms offered on advertising revenue, producing links within ecosystems of opportunities that extend beyond the platform. They also act as cohortification infrastructures, transforming the platform’s surveillance-marketing logic of cohortification – the continuous placement of users into cohorts of similar users – into a participatory process.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


YouTube, personality, infrastructure, cohort, addressivity, assetization, performance, FLoC, choreopolitics

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


24 February 2023Accepted
16 March 2023Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Mar 2023 15:37

Last Modified:

09 Sep 2023 03:46

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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