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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

The Class System: is it Evident at Newcastle University?

Do we still live in a society that is dominated by issues of class? • If so why do certain sectors of society refuse to discuss it and others believe that it no longer exists? • Why do we force social issues, in the desperate hope not to show a class divide? Aim: These were some of the questions I wanted to try and tackle this year. With the ever increasing topic of class being raised, I decided to question Newcastle students on their perspectives. Whether they felt that Universities were a key part of society’s social engineering, or whether they believed that there was a social divide at the University. Philosophers: Focusing on the work of Karl Marx and Theodor Adorno to illustrate the concept of capitalism, and whether we still live in a bourgeoisie and proletariat state.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

The 2007-2009 Financial Crisis: Enlightenment Reason in the Financial Markets

Project Territory, Object and Aims: “We are in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.” This is the opening statement from economist George Soros found in ‘The New Paradigm for Financial Markets’. Due to the importance of this event I decided to study the 2007-2009 Financial Crisis within the Territory of Economics with the aim of diagnosing its causes. The object contains many smaller fields which have contributed to its emergence such as the growth and collapse of the United States housing bubble and the collapse of Mortgage lenders and related businesses. House prices and the value of the FTSE 100 are depicted below. Quantitative Economic versus Qualitative Hermeneutical Analysis: I discovered the causes of the crisis by collecting quantitative economic data to understand the preceding events. Initial analysis led me to the conclusion that the financial crisis was caused by poor lending policies of mortgages that could not be repaid. To contrast this research and fully engage with my object I then collected Qualitative evidence from economist George Soros and philosophical data from my chosen field of Critical theory. Specifically I used the works of Theodor Adorno and Jürgen Habermas regarding types of reason born in the Enlightenment era. After collecting this research I was led to a deeper, more fundamental finding stating that: the financial crisis was in fact caused by the use of Instrumental and Subject Centred Reason within the financial markets leading to the use of Identity Thinking. With the actual philosophical causes of the crisis identified I then investigated Adorno and Habermas’ solutions to those types of derogatory reason. These solutions are: Communicative Action and Negative Dialectics. I then applied these as a solution to the financial crisis itself.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Media Immobilising Britain: Educational Aspiration

This project investigates social mobility in Britain within the last 20 years, and after finding Britain to be socially immobile looks into the role that education has within making Britain immobile. The education system is then evaluated to explore the possibility of education having a causative role in forming an immobile society. A common underlying factor in education’s role within an immobile society is a poor level of aspiration among the lower classes. I then look at the possible role British media has to play in forming poor levels of aspiration under the theories of the culture industry from Adorno and Horkheimer, and Vattimo’s ethics of provenance , which is transposed onto the issue of false consciousness and Marxist ideologies. This project uses government figures to show that Britain is immobile; that the education system plays a key role within immobility, and that media is responsible for breeding students with low levels of aspiration. This, when explored with Adorno and Horkheimer’s views on the culture industry, shows that mass media deceives its consumers in order to keep the bourgeois’ advantage over the lower classes and reinforce Britain’s immobility throughout the generations by depicting mobility as unlikely within the media. This is backed up by figures which show that class and the media consumed is closely linked so the elite few in charge of the majority of media consumed by the masses can install a false consciousness in which it promises mobility to the lower classes whilst never having an intention of delivering it.

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2009 Abstracts Stage 3

Zeitgeist: Addendum

Supporting the Zeitgeist movement is the ‘Venus Project’ which is becoming increasingly popular with online circles and demonstrates the flaws of capitalism and the ways in which we can use new technology to rebuild society and make humanity more efficient. Many people are labelling the Zeitgeist movement as the new Marxist movement with many different stances providing various angles on the whole concept. Essentially I am examining Zeitgeist Addendum and the Venus Project, and then will compare and contrast this with the works of Marx, mainly concentrating on his anti-capitalism views. I want to determine how similar the work of Marx is to that of Peter Joseph and make a decision as to whether this is a good idea or bad in the way it could be highly improbable with undertones of communism. I will also explore the similarities of Zeitgeist to the work of Adorno, which stresses how the late capitalist society is deceptive in its nature.

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2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Do games hold the key to exposing underlying power structures or are they simply a product and therefore impetus of the culture industry?

In his online book, Gamer Theory, McKenzie Wark posits the idea that games reflect a more perfect world. He argues that real life has become a gamespace and that it proclaims itself to be fair, promising an ideology that it can’t deliver. This ideology masks the underlying status quos and oppression present in our society. Games, he argues, because they follow exactly those rules that they promise, are a means by which to uncover this schism. Adorno too thought there was a conflict between ideology and actuality. He proposed a theory of negative dialectics and art in order to expose this. Adorno believed that the consumerism that motivates current capitalism was part and parcel of this trend. I will explore both of these thinker’s theory through my territory of games and gaming. The change I will chart is that of the progression of games themselves from the most basic text-based games, such as Zork, to fully-rendered graphic 3D worlds. The pictures above are examples of this. This will become important in my discussion of gaming and how its progression relates to mass culture and the problems Adorno foresaw within mass culture. Gaming ostensibly seems to feed into Adorno’s notion of the culture industry. New consoles, such as the Wii and DS sell 100,000 units every month in Europe and the international games market is expected to reach a gross of £23bn by 2010. I will examine McKenzie Wark’s theory thoroughly to discover if this has any bearing on his claims. I will also look at open source software, such as the Lassie and AGS engines, as a possible solution to this.

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2008 Abstracts Stage 3

The Exploration of Escapism and Utopias in Response to the Economic and Political Structures of Capitalism

The Territory: Park Güell chosen after my visit to Barcelona. It has been declared a Heritage to Humanity by the Spanish Government and is a beautiful Park to experience first hand. However, it did not enjoy the success it was expected when first built as it was considered too far away from the central city of Barcelona. The Object: The most inspiring part of the Park was the undulating bench situated in the central recreational square, which Gaudi decorated with recycled tiles It is where many locals can meet one another and also holds markets for its citizens as well as tourists. Change: Capitalism has continued to grow for many years. Our almost obsession with buying commodities is further exploiting labourers and making millions for the bourgeoisie. It is no wonder then with capitalism and reification in factories that workers need to escape the alienation and objectification they come to experience through the idea of utopias— whether in nature, physically, or mentally, for some t is there only release from the stresses and strains they become accustomed to. Concept: Looking primarily at Marx; class divisions, exploitation of proletariat class by the bourgeoisie and the effect capitalism has on society as a whole (Communist Manifesto). Secondly, looking at Adorno; Thought a utopian moment could be found through creating true art – reification of workers in a factory, art reflecting the distortions of reality and makes us question our society (Aesthetic Theory). Lastly, looking at Habermas; Believed socialism and liberalism do not bring about solution to crisis of our times, problems in society stem from social and political structures of capitalism (Theory of Modernity).

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2008 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Investigation into the Loss of the Individual within the Modern Identity

Territory: I have chosen to consider the individual through the concept of identity within contemporary society in order to ascertain whether it has truly been ‘lost.’ I also want to consider through this that if it has been lost, what has caused this, and is this necessarily a bad thing? What does it mean to be individual today? Areas of Investigation: I will explore the relationship between the individual and society by looking at the evolution of the individual and what it has meant to be individual. Change: I will compare my territory to the Elizabethan period in the 1600s, as the affect religion and the monarchy had on the individual and on shaping identity compared to nowadays will provide an interesting point of difference. I will also explore why this has changed, and the effects of this change. Philosophical Ideas and Concepts: I will use the work of both Adorno and Levinas to explore my territory within the concept of identity. Adorno focused upon critiquing the concept of identity thinking by exploring it through the way individuals and objects can be subsumed under cover concepts. I will use this to explore what enables this to occur and what in fact happens when people are subsumed, such that it will provide information about what constitutes the individual, and how it could be lost. I will specifically look at his work regarding the Holocaust, where people were subsumed under the concepts of vermin or as merely scientific tools I will also consider Levinas’ work in regards to the Other in order to explore my territory in opposition to Adorno’s ideas. Levinas’ Other will demonstrate the importance of defining the individual in relation to society through the Other. Conclusions: I seek to show that identity can be both fixed and fluid such is the nature of society, our modern identity and our relationship to it.

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2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Has Music Lost its Artistic Value? The Popularisation of Music in the 20th Century

TERRITORY: The history of popular music in the 20th century. Looking at: growth in access, development of technology, social and cultural changes through the decades. OBJECTS: Arnold Schoenberg & The Rolling Stones. I will be using each as a case study, pre and post war, to show changes in ideologies in the music, change in their status as musicians, how has the music industry changed them. SOCIAL CHANGE: Exploring the social political and cultural changes that have directly influenced music culture, music industry, music ideologies. Also looking the influence of the media through the decades with the development in T.V. radio and internet. What role has capitalism played in music culture? CONCEPTS: Primarily Artistic Value using Theodor Adorno and Simon Frith as my core texts. Also more briefly looking at Hegel on aesthetics and Marx on capitalism and the role they play in popular music.

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2006 Abstracts Stage 3

How can I treat my Environment as an Other and escape the ‘Dialectical Deficiency’?

~AN ANALYSIS AND ETHICS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION~ How can I argue that my experience of Sunseed was ‘good’ beyond scientific measure? Sunseed is a environmental charity that aims to develop, demonstrate and communicate accessible low-tech methods of living sustainably in a semi-arid environment. I have identified two problems in the question of what constitutes ‘authentic living’: 1. Do I treat my environment as the Other? To act selflessly I must transcend the horizon of Being and move away from the ‘thought of being’, to treat the environment as ‘the infinite’. My experience of the world is anthropological and pre-contemplative. How has the problem of the philosophical unavoidability of thematising language shaped our attitude to environmental conservation? 2. How do I escape the ‘Dialectical Deficiency’? The truth of the existentialist concern for the fundamentalness of human subjectivity exposed in Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment, where concerns become formulas and causes are rules and probability.

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2006 Abstracts Stage 3

To what Extent is the ‘Truth Content’ within Bukowski’s Work Preserved during its Transition to Film, with Reference to Theodor Adorno’s Culture Industry

Territory: For my project is the life and literary works of Charles Bukowski, a German born American writer who lived from 1920-1994. Aims: In my project I intend to look at the motivation of Charles Bukowski when he wrote and to compare this with the motivation of those who have decided to adapt Bukowski’s work into film in the modern era. This is the change I intend to look at in my project, whether or not Bukowski’s work has become a commodity under the modern day culture industry that Adorno talks about. In order to do this I will look at the three adaptations into film: Tales of Ordinary Madness, Barfly, and Factotum