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14 OCTOBER 2017

Media and Interpellation

"Many theorists have taken Althusser's notion of ideology and interpellation, shifted the focus away from the state, and applied it to various kinds of media texts. In this vein, cultural theorists such as Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno have argued that the homogeneity of mass media interpellate passive subjects who desire reoccurring tropes and predictable story lines which only serve to further stultify them (1979). 5 They are particularly sympathetic to those exploited in capitalist society, lamenting how 'capitalist production so confines them, body and soul, that they fall helpless victim to what is offered them.' (Adorno and Horkheimer, 1979:8). Yet the common people's acquiesce to the culture industry only perpetuates their conditions, and Adorno and Horkheimer proceed to argue, 'immovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them. The misplaced love of the common people for the wrong which is done them is a greater force than the cunning of the authorities' (Adorno and Horkheimer, 1979:8). Like Althusser, Adorno and Horkheimer argue that the proletariat submit to ideologies that interpellate them as passive, and thus comply with their own domination. Similarly, David Gauntlett describes how 'interpellation occurs when a person connects with a media text: when we enjoy a magazine or TV show, for example, this uncritical consumption means that the text has interpellated us into a certain set of assumptions, and caused us to tacitly accept a particular approach to the world.' (Gauntlett, 2002: 27). Here, Gauntlett seems to echo Adorno and Horkheimer's argument that media consumers unquestioningly accept a medium's subject positioning of them as passive viewers."

(Cindy Nguyen, The Chicago School of Media Theory)

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TAGS

acquiesce • capitalist machinery • capitalist production • capitalist society • Chicago School of Media Theory • common people • cultural theorists • culture industry • David Gauntlett • domination • helpless victim • homogeneity of mass media • ideologiesideologyinterpellationLouis Althusser • manipulative media techniques • mass media homogeneity • mass media manipulation • Max Horkheimer • media consumers • media textpassive consumption • passive subjects • passive viewers • predictable story lines • proletariat • reoccurring tropes • stultify • subjugationTheodor Adorno • uncritical consumption • unquestioningly accept

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 AUGUST 2017

On the Passage of a few People through a Rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International 1956-1972

"The Situationist International (SI) was an international organization of social revolutionaries, the exclusive membership of which was made up of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, active from its formation in 1957 to its dissolution in 1972.

The intellectual foundations of the Situationist International were derived primarily from anti-authoritarian Marxism and the avant-garde art movements of the early 20th century, particularly Dada and Surrealism. Overall, situationist theory represented an attempt to synthesize this diverse field of theoretical disciplines into a modern and comprehensive critique of mid-20th century advanced capitalism. The situationists recognized that capitalism had changed since Marx's formative writings, but maintained that his analysis of the capitalist mode of production remained fundamentally correct; they rearticulated and expanded upon several classical Marxist concepts, such as his theory of alienation. In their expanded interpretation of Marxist theory, the situationists asserted that the misery of social alienation and commodity fetishism were no longer limited to the fundamental components of capitalist society, but had now in advanced capitalism spread themselves to every aspect of life and culture. They resolutely rejected the idea that advanced capitalism's apparent successes—such as technological advancement, increased income, and increased leisure—could ever outweigh the social dysfunction and degradation of everyday life that it simultaneously inflicted.

Essential to situationist theory was the concept of the spectacle, a unified critique of advanced capitalism of which a primary concern was the progressively increasing tendency towards the expression and mediation of social relations through objects. The situationists believed that the shift from individual expression through directly lived experiences, or the first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires, to individual expression by proxy through the exchange or consumption of commodities, or passive second-hand alienation, inflicted significant and far-reaching damage to the quality of human life for both individuals and society. Another important concept of situationist theory was the primary means of counteracting the spectacle; the construction of situations, moments of life deliberately constructed for the purpose of reawakening and pursuing authentic desires, experiencing the feeling of life and adventure, and the liberation of everyday life.

When the Situationist International was first formed, it had a predominantly artistic focus; emphasis was placed on concepts like unitary urbanism and psychogeography. Gradually, however, that focus shifted more towards revolutionary and political theory. The Situationist International reached the apex of its creative output and influence in 1967 and 1968, with the former marking the publication of the two most significant texts of the situationist movement, The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord and The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem. The expressed writing and political theory of the two aforementioned texts, along with other situationist publications, proved greatly influential in shaping the ideas behind the May 1968 insurrections in France; quotes, phrases, and slogans from situationist texts and publications were ubiquitous on posters and graffiti throughout France during the uprisings."

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TAGS

195719721989 • advanced capitalism • anti-authoritarianart movement • authentic desires • avant-garde art • Branka Bogdanov • capitalist societycommodity fetishism • commodity spectacle • consumer societyconsumerism • consumption of commodities • Dadadegradationdetournement • directly lived experiences • documentary filmearly 20th centuryeveryday life • exchange of commodities • expression and mediation of social relations through objects • feeling of adventure • feeling of life • first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires • graffiti • Greil Marcus • Guy Debord • individual expression by proxy • Jamie Reid • liberation of everyday life • Malcolm Mac Laren • Marxism • Marxist concepts • Marxist theory • May 1968 • means of production • mid-20th century advanced capitalism • mode of production • moments of life • political theorists • political theorypsychogeography • Raoul Vaneigem • reawakening • revolutionary theory • second-hand alienation • Situationist International • situationist movement • situationist theory • situations • slogan • social alienation • social dysfunction • social relations • social revolutionaries • Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord)spectaclesurrealism • The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967) • theory of alienation • Thomas Levine • UbuWeb • unified critique • unitary urbanism • video documentary

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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