Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-8-2020


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Ronald C. Arnett

Committee Member

Erik Garrett

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz


This project engages in a philosophy of communication approach in order to understand the role of social media influencer marketing within a historical moment defined via Hannah Arendt’s understanding of the social. Social media influencer marketing emerges as a new form of celebrity endorsement in which those finding fame on the Internet engage in word-of-mouth marketing for brands and organizations on their own personal social media pages, blurring the line between organic and sponsored content. According to Arnett (2010), philosophy of communication acts as a background road map for understanding foreground public action. Utilizing a myriad of metaphorical coordinates as part of a philosophy of communication road map of understanding that includes Christopher Lasch’s narcissistic culture, Marshall McLuhan’s global village, Daniel Boorstin’s human pseudo-event, Jacques Ellul’s propaganda, and the scholarship surrounding interplay between charismatic leadership and parasocial relationships, I consider the consequences of Arendt’s social condition consisting of a blur between private and public spheres in hyper-form as they appear through social media influencer marketing. These scholars do not specifically make connection with Arendt in these works, but I argue that their major metaphors about the Western world provide rhetorical touchstones that explicate the consequences of the social condition. The project ends with a reflection of these major metaphorical coordinates in relation to three major case studies for social media influencer marketing surrounding Audible, BetterHelp, and Fyre Festival, drawing implications and conclusions for this integrated marketing communication approach in an era entrenched within the banality of the social.