From the culture industry to the society of the spectacle: Critical theory and the situationist international

From the culture industry to the society of the spectacle: Critical theory and the situationist international

Kevin Fox Gotham, Daniel A. Krier

Language: English

Pages: 39

ISBN: 2:00327462

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Abstract
Since Karl Marx fashioned his theory of capitalism in the nineteenth century, scholars have continually updated Marxian theory to capture the pervasiveness of commodity relations in modern society. Influenced by Georg Lukács and Henri Lefebvre, the members of the French avant-guard group, the Situationist International (1957–1972), developed an intransigent critique of consumer capitalism based on the concept of the spectacle. In the spectacle, media and consumer society replace lived experience, the passive gaze of images supplants active social participation, and new forms of alienation induce social atomization at a more abstract level than in previous societies. We endeavor to make two theoretical contributions: First, we highlight the contributions of the Situationist International, pointing out how they revised the Marxian categories of alienation, commodification, and reification in order to analyze the dynamics of twentieth century capitalism and to give these concepts new explanatory power. Second, we build a critical theory of consumer capitalism that incorporates the theoretical assumptions and arguments of the Situationists and the Frankfurt School. Today, critical theory can make an important contribution to sociology by critically examining the plurality of spectacles and their reifying manifestations. In addition, critical theorists can explore how different spectacles connect to one another, how they connect to different social institutions, and how spectacles express contradictions and conflicting meanings. A critical theory of spectacle and consumption can disclose both novelties and discontinuities in the current period, as well as continuities in the development of globalized consumer capitalism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sensitivity. According to Vaneigem ([1967]2001, Chapter 7), [T]he present economic system can only be rescued by turning man into a consumer, by identifying him with the largest possible number of consumable values, which is to say, non-values, or empty, fictitious, abstract values. y The stereotyped images of the star, the poor man, the communist, the murderer-for-love, the law-abiding-citizen, the rebel, the bourgeois, will replace man, putting in his place a system of multicopy categories

needs exacerbates the malaise of people confined with increasing difficulty solely to the status of consumers. Furthermore, the wealth of consumer goods impoverishes authentic life. It does so in two ways. First, it replaces authentic life with things. Secondly, it makes it impossible, with the best will in the world, to become attached to these things, precisely because they have to be consumed, i.e., destroyed. Whence an absence of life which is ever more frustrating, a self-devouring

use spectacles to advance their own resistant agendas. Analyzing the different dimensions of spectacle also means exploring what social identities are connected with different spectacles, how people use and consume spectacles to reinforce or challenge identity categories, and what mechanisms regulate the distribution and use of particular spectacles. In this sense, while particular spectacles are produced by a combination of local power interests and multinational corporations, and regulated by

failure to clearly specify the connections between macro- and micro-levels, their tendency toward hyperbole and exaggeration, their orthodox and naive faith in the revolutionary agency of the proletariat, and their lack of attention to the crisis tendencies and sources of opposition and resistance that affect capitalist societies (Best & Kellner, 1997, p. 117; Gardiner, 2000, pp. 124–125; Jappe, 1999, pp. 103–104). Through a dialogue with the Frankfurt School, we hope to deepen scholarly

understanding of the multiple sites of spectacularization, the conflicting meanings and effects of spectacles, and the novelties and discontinuities in the development of modern capitalism. We define Critical Theory and the Situationist International 161 spectacularization as a conflictual and contested process by which the major institutions of society are adopting the logic and principles of entertainment and spectacle to their basic operations and organization. Indeed, the worldwide

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From the culture industry to the society of the spectacle: Critical theory and the situationist international, in No Social Science without Critical Theory (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Volume 25)

From the culture industry to the society of the spectacle: Critical theory and the situationist international, in No Social Science without Critical Theory (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Volume 25)

Kevin Fox Gotham, Daniel A. Krier

Language: English

Pages: 44

ISBN: 2:00328498

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Read More From the culture industry to the society of the spectacle: Critical theory and the situationist international, in No Social Science without Critical Theory (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Volume 25)