Authenticity and organisations

I recently came across Pine and Gilmore’s newest book, Authenticity: what consumers really want. Pine and Gilmore are well known for their seminal works on the ‘experience economy’, the notion that the development of experiences can provide greater value than merely developing products and services.

This new book delves into notions of authenticity, suggesting that a renewed regard for the ‘real’ is the result of three interwoven social developments:

1 – the development of the experience economy itself (with industries such as Disney and Starbucks at the helm)

2 – the idea that there is a demographic influence exerted on society by what are termed ‘baby boomers’ and ‘culturally creative persons’  as a whole, suggesting that the notion of ‘quality of life’ cuts across demographics and age barriers

3 – the idea that the reputation of insitutions is being undermined and that audiences need to re-develop a basic reason for connecting with these organisations.

It’s been a while since anyone tackled this third point in any detail in relation to the impact of online experiences in the cultural sector. In 1998 Jennifer Trant wrote an important paper, ‘When all you’ve got is ‘The Real Thing: Museums and Authenticity in the Networked World’ and since then, we haven’t seen alot of discussion around the issue. Last year there was a rippling with the idea of ‘radical trust’ but that doesn’t seem to have progressed much beyond those first few discussions – or perhaps it has and I’m not up to date – in which case please let me know!

I’ll be interested to see whether Pine and Gilmore’s ideas start to make their way into the museum debate. I’d also be really interested to get your feedback!

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This blog examines social media, cultural institutions and digital participation. It's based on the research projects Engaging with Social Media in Museums and New Literacy, New Audiences. Regular contributors are Angelina Russo, Lynda Kelly and Seb Chan


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