Essentialists understand authenticity as an inherent quality of a person, object, artifact, or place, whereas constructionists consider authenticity as a social creation without any pre-given essence, factuality, or reality. In this paper, we move beyond the essentialist-constructionist dichotomy. Rather than focusing on the question whether authenticity can be found or needs to be constructed, we hook into the idea that authenticity is an interactive, culturally informed process of negotiation. In addition to essentialist and constructionist approaches, we discuss a third, less well-known approach that cannot be reduced to any of the two forms. This approach celebrates the authenticity of inauthenticity by amplifying the made. We argue that the value of (in)authenticity lies not in choosing for one of these approaches, but in the degree to which the process of negotiating authenticity enables a critical formation of selves and societies. Authenticity is often invoked as a method of social control or a mark of power relations: once something is defined as authentic, it is no longer questioned. Emerging technologies—especially data-driven technologies—have the capacity to conceal these power relations, propel a shift in power, and dominate authentication processes. This raises the question how processes of authentication can contribute to a critical formation of selves and societies, against the backdrop of emerging technologies. We argue in favor of an interactionist approach of authenticity and discuss the importance of creating space in authentication processes that are increasingly influenced by technology as an invisible actor.
- Formation of self
- Formation of society