Archive for November, 2010


Chapter 5- Theory of Cultural Production and Digital Age

Capitalism treats meanings as private property. After the creation of the Gutenberg press there was a notion of the author’s rights. On the web there is a resistance to culture privatization. However when corporations try to to control meaning over the internet or the role of their product online, the general result is increased consumer activism and expanding resistance. People in general don’t like to be told what to do, so they are likely to rebel.

The social order corresponds to dominant pattern of symbols. If one controls the pattern of symbols then they have the ability to exercise control over the social order.

An example is the Barbie Doll, probably created by Mattel. It is catered to little girls, but has sexualized proportions and says consumerist things. However there is a lot of backlash and a lot of anger and violence expressed towards the barbie doll. This is shown through mutilation of Barbie in various videos and pictures found online. It is also pretty ridiculous how many women have had plastic surgery to look like the original Barbie doll.

There is a preferred meaning of the symbols, for example the Barbie Doll is suppose to be beautiful and consumerist and have the perfect life. People will either aspire to these preferred meanings and symbols or contradict them.

Another topic discussed in class was that capitalism suppresses human experiences and selects characteristics which create a disciplined worker. For example, going to school helps to discipline children and adults, thus preparing them for the workforce.

The social order tries to establish limits on expression. However the internet is an anomaly because it is uncontrolled.

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Ascribed and Achieved Identity

In capitalism and the social order, people have clearly described roles. Today we are less defined by who we are and more defined with what we do. The focus now is on achieved identity.

The focus is the nature of identity in capitalism. The capitalist media system, has a way of classifying people into different identities.This is done most commonly through advertising, political or otherwise, and television consumption and the system of corporate state production.

Under capitalism today, identity is destabilized. One of the ways of creating identity is education. It creates identities of workers and citizens. Education is also a way of creating your own unique identity and deciding for yourself who you want to be.

The intensification of appropriation within popular culture destabilizes identity. It destabilizes the categories of shared information. Appropriation is shown through various forms of media, such as YouTube, television shows, commercials, which affects the way the audience perceives original meanings and identities for individuals and corporations.

A topic mentioned in class was the destruction of the Black man in America which corresponds to the destruction of the black family unit, which is contrary to what is shown as the ideal family situation in mainstream media. When it comes to this situation I believe there are a variety of corresponding negative factors involved in the dissolution of the Black family unit, and the struggles of the black man. For example: poverty, education, and parental guidance/supervision are all intertwined. If a family is suffering from a lack of all three of these factors there are bound to be a lot of social problems to follow. If you fix the situation of these problems you will fix the “plight of the Black man”. As well as out of curiosity, why wasn’t the “Black women” mentioned? For example if a Black American single mom has children, some male and some female, what is the role of the daughter(s) in this situation? Are they more likely to succeed in the realm of education because of the differentiation of the socialization of education towards gender?

In terms of media identity, in my opinion and from my personal experiences, when young Black children and teens are home alone and unsupervised the common programming of the day to watch is BET. Which I believe doesn’t do much to help in the positive formation of “Black identity”. Especially when it seems to promote mostly gangster culture, which definitely isn’t going to help get these already marginalized youth out of their current situation. Maybe if more programming focused  on a more positive black identity and the pursuing of higher education and in much more numbers, maybe it could have a positive effect on the behaviour of young and disadvantaged black men. But this is just a thought.

The Gutenberg printing press is revolutionary to mass communication. The printing press allowed mass production of literary materials. The Printing press also allowed acces to knowledge outside of the dominant.This contributed to the marketplace of shared knowledge.

Today is similar to the middle ages because we have a marketplace that controls the production of ideas and we have cultural heresys. These cultural heresys are alwasy challenging the centre of power.

The centre of power tries to control beliefs and censors out many ideas. The new media system of the internet, reinforces power and allows the hectic to speak out.

The media system shows the normative debate and the struggle between left and right values that are predetermined. The media mediates the opinions of the elite and previously before the internet age, only the elite had access to define our values, and everyone else was on the periphery. And in the beginning capitalism and media had a way of producing shared culture because everyone watched the same shows, so all viewed and were exposed to the same things.

In this postmodern world, there is a breakdown of the centre, because the web opens up a number of contenders that combats the stabalizing of meanings. the internet releases the freedom of expression and is uncensored. There is a lot of fragmentation, so it is much harder for powerholders to impose their views on everyone .

System of Value Creation

Every idea has a history. For example the idea of global warming, approximately 98 % say it is caused by man.

Decommodified cultural production:

If we have any hope, our hope lies in a new mode of production. If not, we will destroy the world, with our mass use of consumption, and in the way we abuse the earth and its resources.

Some people believe that the future of internet is normalization and a mirror of the 20th century audience. The belief is that the internet just like all other communication technology would be highly controlled by corporations.

Facebook allows us to be out of control and they have dominated the market because they work for a dynamic that is out of control. Group conversation is a threat. Expressive freedom interferes with social control. The internet can be envisioned as a new public sphere. However the problem with the internet, is that although it allows free speech and a forum where many positive things can be said or done, it also gives the opportunity for a lot of negative people to express their opinions. It also gives an very public outlet for the stupid, ignorant and the poisonous groups in society to gather and recruit more members and spew nonsense.

There are also attempts to commodify non-market activity.

Capitalism and the Limits of Thought-The future of the television audience

Capitalism depends on the control of meaning and the way we think about things.

The domain of the ideological and the domain of the digital. The digital form is the most challenged.

In terms of capitalism and the limits of thought Republicans get poor people to vote for them even if it is against their own interests. They are able to influence people that their method of how the market and capitalism works, will work for them, instead of the thinking that taxing the rich and the multimillion dollar corporations are in their best interests.

There is a relationship between technology, law and the market. The corporations and government are trying to diminish property rights. For example soon it will be that you don’t own the software that you purchase, you rent it, and it forever belongs to the corporation. It is about decreasing consumer rights and increasing corporate rights over property.

The corporations, government and the law are trying to control us at the same time that our behaviour spirals out of control with the internet, by mass criminalization.

The internet transforms private property into public property.

There are many attempts to control the internet and control property such as music and software online, however those attempts are futile because people are reluctant to pay for things they receive online. Also the marketplace will go where the consumer goes.

Capitalism and the Limits of Thought

“Capitalism depends on the ability to define things in our world”.

For capitalist system to work people (consumers) need to believe that they need to purchase certain things in order to look or behave a certain way, or in order to be a certain type of person.

Gone are the days of the pre-industrial society when we had the freedom to simply exist. Due to modernity, we live in a highly disciplined society, the discipline of the mind.

In capitalism we institutionalized basic events in an economy. For example, marriage, which is simply a union between a male and a female is now a commodified and socially constructed act.

Meanings of products are highly pre-determined. They are continually enforced by the meaning-making system.

Dominant symbols are established to thought and these dominant symbols reinforce the social order. The example given is the Barbie doll. If a Barbie doll is given to black kids, most likely they will choose to be the white doll. On my own reflection, I believe there could be two possible reasons, one being that the white Barbie doll may perhaps be the standard of beauty, or more realistically the black kids associate the white Barbie Doll with privilege. For example: The girl who has everything.

Different ethnic groups consume media differently. Teenagers use symbols differently.

Capitalism is starting to be equated and marketed with democracy and freedom. For example a corporation will create a product where the consumer can customize the product and then create the illusion of freedom or freedom of choice.

The internet is eroding definitional control on people with capital.

Capitalism and the Limits of Thought

We live in a commodified culture. Where there is a standardization of thought and behaviour. Capitalism causes inequality. And those who control the capitalist system or at the top of the system control the means of production and the production of meaning. As human beings we are wrought through with internal influences, which influences our behaviour and our decision-making capabilities.

The conservative corporate practice is exerting a disproportionate influence on the social order.

We are compelled to act by the parameters of context in the social system. For example the ritual exchange of the diamond ring which was created  by the marketplace.

The media communicates ideological messages to product consumption. Ideology is never uncontested within society.

The media and economic and anthropology theory connotates that there is severe levels of thought posed on individuals. These condition they type of choices we are going to make. Society works with the conditions of our desires.