Tag Archives: consumer culture

Consumer Culture and Postmodernism (Mike Featherstone)

consumer-culture-postmodernism-mike-featherstone-paperback-cover-art“I first became interested in consumer culture in the late 1970s. The stimulus was the writings of members of the Frankfurt School and other proponents of Critical Theory which were featured and discussed so well in journals like Telos and New German Critique. The theories of the culture industry, reification, commodity fetishism and the instrumental rationalization of the world directed attention away from a focus on production towards consumption and processes of cultural change.” (excerpt from “Preface to the First Edition”)

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The Culture Industry (Theodor Adorno)

The Culture Industry“The term culture industry was perhaps used for the first time in the book Dialectic of Enlightenment, which Horkheimer and I published in Amsterdam in 1947. In our drafts we spoke of ‘mass culture’. We replaced that expression with ‘culture industry’ in order to exclude from the outset the interpretation agreeable to its advocates: that it is a matter of something like a culture that arises spontaneously from the masses themselves, the contemporary form of popular art. From the latter the culture industry must be distinguished in the extreme. The culture industry fuses the old and familiar into a new quality. In all its branches, products which are tailored for consumption by masses
and which to a great extent determine the nature of that consumption, are manufactured more or less according to plan. The individual branches are similar in structure or at least fit into each other, ordering themselves into a system almost without a gap…” -Theodor Adorno

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Fashion Models as Ideal Embodiments of Normative Identity (Patrícia Soley-Beltran)

“This paper examines fashion models as gender myths and cultural icons through a cultural history of modelling. It reveals the construction of models’ personas by the successive addition of meaningful signs: physique, manner, attitude, nationality, class, race, salary, chamaleonism, slenderness, and so on. The author argues that models’ glamour expresses economic and social power and promotes the values of consumerism, while exporting cultural ideals through visual neo-colonialism. On the basis of empirical material on models’ experiences gathered from interviews, second oral sources and autobiographical material, the author approaches models’ bodies, identities and public personas as artefacts performed through the reiteration of collectively defined gender standards and practices. This approach overcomes the contrast cast in fashion discourse between visibility/invisibility, private/public, real/unreal while disclosing the hegemonic beauty standards as fiction.” (abstract)

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Bourdieu on Television (Imre Szeman)

“When it appeared in France in 1996, Pierre Bourdieu’s On Television ignited a media controversy that raged for months and propelled the book to the top of the best-seller lists. Bourdieu could not have hoped for a better reception for this short text. Certainly, the controversy surrounding the book boosted Bourdieu’s already considerable cultural capital as one of the most prominent figures of the French academy. More significantly, however, the reaction of the print and electronic media to his pointed criticisms served as a confirmation of his conclusions regarding the severe limits of contemporary journalism. The transformation of Bourdieu’s book into one of the seemingly endless string of “current events” and “social issues” that grips the media for a moment, only to fade forever into obscurity within a week or so (call this the “Time syndrome”), exemplified all of the media’s gravest problems in their very attempt to dispute Bourdieu’s assessment of their failings.” -Imre Szeman

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