NOT NATURAL, NOR NEUTRAL: THE CULTURAL CONFIGURATIONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA AFFORDANCES WITHIN CHILEAN INFLUENCER INDUSTRY
This paper explores the configurations of social media’s affordances within the Chilean influencer industry. Chile has a growing number of professional social media influencers who blur global norms and local markets, working with both local brands and international campaigns. We argue for situating affordances within a wider context in which the features of platforms acquire particular meanings. Our analysis focuses on two dynamics. On the one hand, we examine how the Chilean influencer industry is shaped by a technological frame (Bijker, 1995) that structures the valence of affordances. We show that affordances are not “naturally” or “neutrally” imagined by actors but rather culturally located within technological frames that shape the discourses, values, and practices from which they obtain cultural meaning. On the other hand, we analyze how affordances provide a material support for the temporal and spatial expansion of technological frames. Thus, cultural contexts and platforms’ features mutually constitute each other in ways that have not always been recognized in the scholarly literature about affordances. We situate negotiations about what it means to be an influencer in Chile, the role of intermediaries (e.g. branding agencies), communication with followers, and the global influencer industry as part of this mutually constitutive relationship.