2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Desire and Consumption: an Investigation of Consumerism via Pasolini, Tiqqun, Deleuze, and Guattari

We’ve had Athenian civilisation, we’ve had the Renaissance, and now our civilisation centres round the arse.
-Jean-Luc Godard, Pierrot le Fou

Since World War II, capitalist society has experienced a proliferation of consumer goods and items so vast that, according to Jean Baudrillard, they have come to take on the nature of flora and fauna. Our streets are lined with shops and restaurants, while our houses are filled with various nonessential items. For some, almost every moment in waking existence is related to consumption. For others, consumption is a type of leisure, a break from a life spent in an office doing paperwork. But how did we end up in this endless cycle of consumption? Why is consumption a lifestyle for so many people? How could such a large societal change be enacted in such a short space of time?

Judging by how quickly capitalist society has accepted and embraced consumerism, it would seem as though humans have an endless capacity to consume, and that consumer capitalism frees us to pursue this natural end. However, I will argue in this essay that consumerism is an oppressive identity and force that makes us desire its oppression. I will do so by opening the discussion of a consumer identity through Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 film Pierrot le Fou. Following this opening, I will use Pier Paolo Pasolini’s critique of consumerism to show how consumerism acts as a force of social homogenisation, and also apply this critique to Pierrot le Fou. Then I will use the concept of the Young-Girl from Tiqqun’s book Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl to show how the consumerism as a form of social control has developed from the 1960s, and how it has created an identity that engenders more consumption, and therefore a degree of self-oppression. Finally, I will use Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s book Anti-Oedipus to show how the social and the political directly produce subjects and how desire comes to desire consumption, even if this leads to its own oppression.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

How Free Am I to Shape an Identity Through Consumerism?

I will be exploring the relationship between consumerism and identity. I will ask if people are free to create an identity and control the way in which they express themselves under the social order of consumerism. I will argue that rather than being emancipatory, consumerism instead imposes restrictions on people in ways that will be explored in this essay. The main philosophical ideas used to engage with this thesis will be drawn from works of Jean Baudrillard. I will primarily be drawing from Baudrillard’s The Consumer Society and will later incorporate some ideas from his Simulacra and Simulation. Baudrillard’s philosophical analysis of consumerism provokes much thought about identity, and the freedom that we possess to manipulate this identity. These ideas will be fundamental to my argument.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Has the experience pregnancy and childbirth been affected by becoming a consumersim market?

Object and territory: How has the growing trend of consumerism affected the way in which women experience pregnancy and labour comparing the experiences from the fifties to the experiences had now.

Sources: Sigmund Freud, Thomas Hobbes, Georg W.F. Hegel and Immanuel Kant have been used to give explanations of the way in which the experiences change in relation to doctors and product manufactures use immoral means for personal gain.

Project outline: Comparing the differences in experiences of women in the fifties to the present day is crucial in my exploration of the way in which consumerism has affected pregnancy. The difference in the product market today is colossal and this essay aims to explore the impact on the parent child relationship. Immanuel Kant’s formula of Humanity provides a moral guide to compare the way in which some doctors and companies are using pregnancy as a means to the end of monetary gain.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

An Attempt at Altruism? An Evaluation of Consumer Boycott’s Motivations and Outcomes.

This project aims to evaluate whether consumer boycotts are truly altruistic or an egoistic attempt to save reputations and adhere to social pressure out of self-interest. Do consumers and corporations really care about the impact of their actions or just want to look like decent caring people?

2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Everything Now, as Result of Creativity or Commercialism; Reading Arcade Fire with Adorno’s The Culture Industry.

Money + Love
Can artists make a statement about consumer culture without falling into it themselves?

Territory: Arcade Fire’s album Everything Now

Object: Consumer Culture
Philosophy: Adorno’s The Culture Industry

2015 Abstracts Stage 3



A controversial attempt at defending an institution often deemed as exploitative, by considering the potentiality for change in marketing strategy due to the proliferation and availability of interpretative consumer choices within social media culture.

2014 Abstracts Stage 3

I Shop Therefore I am

– Joseph Heath
– Tim Kasser
– Charles Taylor
– Jean Baudrillard

“Consumer society sold us dissatisfaction, then sold us the cure” (Lawson, 2009).

“This massive squirrel-wheel cannot but generate a certain amount of stress, not to mention incredible amounts of waste”

With both nutrition and materialism, Kasser states that “they are full for only a short time, as the promise is false and the satisfaction is empty”.

The level of consumption in Britain is so extraordinarily high that if the entire human race had the same levels we would need 3.1 planets to cope with the demand for resources (Lawson, 2009, p.98).

Researchers have found that on average we see around 3,500 advertisements a day. That is a shocking 1, 277, 500 a year.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Consumerism and Advertising used in the Housing Industry in Britain

Our Commodity Fetishism has led to a growing consumer culture which advertising capitalises on and helps generate.

We are bound by our desperate consumer culture according to both Philosophers. Marx believes that humanity has created a culture of ‘Commodity Fetishism’ where use and exchange value have been warped by our capitalist culture. Where Debord despairs that: ‘all that was once directly lived has become mere representation.

Comparing luxury development One Hyde Park with affordable Norfolk Homes one I have found that advertising capitalises on and helps generate the commodity fetishism. The advertising feeds the audience response not the product through signs of satisfaction; these satisfactions are different for diverse audiences. Gap in luxury and price is maintained through specific target marketing.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

The Psychological Costs of Capitalism: an Exploration into How We Are Being Emotionally Snookered by the Demands of 21st Century Living

In our society we are getting richer and richer and simultaneously less and less happy. Within my stage three project I want to explore how in modern life capitalism and the consumer culture has corrupted our values and as a result people are increasingly driven by an obsessive desire to define themselves by their earnings, possessions, appearance and celebrity. I want to show how this is responsible for the ever rising rates of depression and anxiety in England and America…

Heidegger’s analysis of boredom suggests that our lives lack personal meaning, and where there is a lack of personal meaning, capitalism creates all sorts of diversions and substitutes, mostly in the form of consumption. Through the work of Heidegger, I will reveal how our fundamental needs as beings are not being met. This endless pursuit of unfulfillable desires has created a profoundly impoverished emotional culture, subsequently we are no longer living authentic lives.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Consumer Culture. What’s in It for Me?

The consumer culture/Modernity /Postmodernity/Commodity and the role of the individual experience. Essentially the current capitalist world in which we live.

The various theories brought forward by philosophers and sociologists such as Horkheimer and Adorno, Giddens, Lyotard, Marx, Featherstone, Slater, Baudrillard, Debord and Bernstein. The theories of Modernity and Postmodernity, their consequences when related to the concepts of Consumer Culture and a world of Commodity.

I am to chart the change from traditional world view through to modernity. The extent to which capitalism is affected by the culture industry and its movement towards postmodernity. Mass culture and the effect of industrialisation. The Influence of the Media industry, and the various problems we associate with advertising and marketing culture in contemporary society.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Philosophy in “Fight Club”

TERRITORY- FIGHT CLUB. 1999 film about an unnamed protagonist who struggles with his growing discomfort with consumerism and changes in the state of masculinity in American culture. In an attempt to overcome this, he creates an underground fighting club as a radical form of psychotherapy in order to change the way in which he lives his life. CONCEPTS- My main concept was the idea of EXISTENTIALISM and the way in which we live and our influence to live our lives The two philosophers I looked at with relation to the concept where • Jean-Paul Sartre • Friedrich Nietzsche The relationship between my territory and my concept is that fight club is a film based around how we should live and tells the story of one man’s struggle to achieve the existentialist ideal of discovering your own truth. It also challenges existentialist views on God and the question of whether or not we all have a “will to power”. Relevance : The idea of how we should live is particularly relevant today with people more equal than ever are we conforming to the way in which the government wants us to live. Why has violence become so prominent in modern day society- what can we do to stop it?

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Eldon Square: the Culture of Consumerism

In my project I observe the phenomenon of consumption and its cultural implications on our day society. I believe it is very important to demonstrate the complexity and measure of the subject and I attempt to demonstrate some of the key issues through analysing Newcastle’s own Eldon Square shopping centre. My philosophical concept is based on the material of Jean Baudrillard. I believe he showed a real insight in the complexity and complicatedness of consumerism through the notion of the political economy of the sign and demonstrated how sign functions in the relations that involve economic, symbolic and use value exchange.

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Shop until we Drop?

Territory: Four businesses operating in the UK retail sector of industry and their company websites. Areas of Investigation: • Company values and the role and functions of these in business. • The ‘relationship’ between business and its customers and how this is changing as a result of the internet. • Marketing and advertisement techniques and the possible effects they might have on consumers. • Crisis of legitimation and the poststructuralist interpretations of western society. Philosophical Thinkers Involved: Nietzsche’s ‘Will to Power’ exposes fundamental issues with values in retail business practises. As a result conceptions of power are considered in the forms expressed by Foucault and Thomas to see how this affects the position of the consumer. Baudrillard’s ideas of simulacra and simulation were then used to highlight possible reasons for company values in relation to how we perceive the real. Further exposition of the consumer relation to business was carried out through the work of Jean François Lyotard and Gianni Vattimo. Conclusions: Businesses values are not legitimate but instead the result of our interactions as consumers; our purchases can actually shape society making our relationship with business an active one instead of passive. The overall conception of business as a physical entity is misleading as it has no fixed point; businesses are sociological phenomenon that reflects the general will of society because they are governed by the pragmatics of economics and are fundamentally made from members of that society.

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

To what extent does the consumer society we live in today affect our self identity?

Territory: The territory I have considered in this project in order to understand the changing nature of identity is that of advertising in contemporary society. I have explored the history of advertising, the psychology of advertising and some advertising techniques that are used by companies to persuade. Concepts: The key concepts I have engaged with in this project are: – Loss of agency -Fragile nature of identity -Identity given by society -Identity in flux. Key questions I have engaged with are: -How is our identity formed in modern society? -How has it changed over time? -What are the influential factors on identity? -How do advertising agencies target individuals? -What methods do they use?

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

The Contemporary Mass Culture of Escapism: the Individual and Society, a Study in Parallel to the Film Being John Malkovich

Territory: Escapism, our obsession, need for it. What I will use to do this: My mind, Psychology, Fromm, Sociology. We are the only species on this planet that routinely, and necessarily require some form of detachment from our existence. I want to explore this need of ours to escape from the perspective of the protagonist Craig Schwartz in the film ‘Being John Malkovich’. As well as using an individual’s perspective I hope to look at society as a whole, the way it is driven by a mainstream commercialist economy and how this affects our need to subvert our reality from time to time.

2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Aesthetics: from Creativity to Consumer Response

RKCR/Y&R (territory) has placed itself as the leading strategy within advertisement and marketing. TV commercials give maximum consumer response by using techniques that have been developed over the past sixty years. But how does the advertiser compel it’s target market to buy/ support a product? By means of market research a creative team can generate ideas from on statistics based on consumer needs. A transition from scientific method to artistic creativity takes place, from idea to screen attention to detail allows a campaign to become the centre of a product launch. If a idea is successful the return can be impressive. The M&S food campaign (object) is a perfect example of the results that can be achieved when a campaign is successful. The way an individual processes the information from screen and associates this with a product is the importance of this study, how can the creative department develop a campaign that will mentally intrigue its audience? Can psychology or philosophical ideas give an insight into the thought processes behind advertisement? Kantian thought can help us understand how the advertiser connects to the consumer. Free play for Kant allows the categories of the mind to be influenced by outside concepts; Kant speaks of music and art. Just as a piece of fine art can spark the imagination, this is how in Kantian theory the advertiser reaches the consumer. The advertiser essentially uses imagination as a tool to ‘communicate’ the product to the consumer. Kant’s work influences the ideas and philosophical concepts that this project discusses concerning the mental faculties of the consumer. This project uses Hume’s work connects the consumer and the creative thinker within advertisement. Hume speaks of how ideas are copied from impressions, in short Hume argues that the human imagination, idea’s, cognitive attributes are all part of our physical being. Hume highly supports this project’s research on ’the creative idea’. This project is concerned with how the human mind perceives external influences, and also how the mind has the ability to use the imagination as a means to an end. This study has centred M&S food as its example rather than interest. What is most important is the research into human understanding and the different faculties that are involved between the consumer and a product. TV commercials have many different levels, messages, objectives and specifications, the importance is the TV COMMERCIALS ABILITY TO USE THE HUMAN MIND AS A MARKETING TOOL.

2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Consumer Values in Modern Britain

Territory: I have chosen to investigate the ways in which capitalism and modern consumerism have changed and shaped our concept of moral values. I will focus on the way in which consumerism manipulates and controls our society and whether the values of modern Britain are gradually being eroded. Questions that need addressing: I wish to discover why there has been a shift in the material condition of humanity in the west and how the post-modern power structures have changed us. This shift to a capitalist world with the significance of materialistic values is a model that I wish to dissect with the purpose of unveiling the mechanism of change that brought it about. The outcome of this will be the ability to grasp the shift from the old centralised ideology of value systems to the material values which are fashionable and sought after today. Additionally, I hope to discover whether the decline in religious belief in Britain is associated with the erosion of moral values. Key thinkers and sources: The main sources of my research will lie within the philosophical thought of Max Weber and Friedrich Schiller. I will also be drawing upon the ideas of Karl Marx and the modern sociologist Mike Featherstone.

2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Fight Club: what effect has consumerism had on personal identity?

Insomnia/Society of the Spectacle. The narrator suffers from insomnia, he describes this feeling as being ‘never really asleep and never really awake…everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.‘ This, Guy Debord says, is caused by a veil that has emerged between us and society, where nothing is real. We have moved from Being into Having. What we ARE is no longer important; what we HAVE is. The expanse of mass corporations has created a society controlled and driven by consumerism. People have forgotten their aims and goals and have become obsessed with material possessions. Masculinity has hit a crisis point as the dynamics of society life have changed, namely by the increasingly common absence of the father figure. These men are in search of validation as men, something which they will not find in the consumerist society. Men have become servants to large corporations and through fighting each other they are able to feel something real, and therefore are able to catch a glimpse of the reality they seek. This has caused identity to be something elusive and missing, due to the subduing effect of consumerism. Nietzsche’s Herd/Nihilists/Free Spirits analogy. Modern society has become what Nietzsche would describe as the Herd, a majority of people who are preoccupied with their own ‘game’ and the never-ending pursuit of owning better objects. The narrator undergoes a journey from Herd to Nihilist when he splits his personality, to Free Spirit when he kills Tyler in the final scene of the film.

2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Identity in the New Age of Consumerism and Advertising: a study of identity formation in contemporary culture

My Aims: • To research the advertising sector in relation to its effects upon the public and their perception of themselves. • To study and investigate certain philosophical concepts, both obvious and obscure, which can be connected with such research. • To contact individual advertising companies, both profit and not-for-profit, in order to ascertain any differences in their agendas. • To briefly survey the public as to their thoughts on the subject, a questionnaire was circulated among different groups of society. • Through study of philosophical concepts I hope to be able to develop my argument. • To briefly investigate whether we do indeed live in a culture of consumerism and its connections with advertising. • I hope to be able to conclude that advertising and the new consumerism leaves the individual in a state of confusion and identity uncertainty, with a particular focus on youth. Sources: I shall be focusing on one key thinker; Charles Taylor and his work: “Philosophical Arguments and Papers”. However, I shall also be focusing in a more general sense upon other individual works; • David Wiggins; “Sameness and Substance”. • Richard Sennett; “The Culture of the New Capitalism” and “The Corrosion of Character”. • Anthony Giddens; “Modernity and Self-Identity”. I shall also be using internet resources, research data, and contact with advertising companies and questionnaires to aid my project conclusion.

2006 Abstracts Stage 3

Identity and Postmodern Society: a Philosophical Investigation into the way Identities are Constructed in Contemporary Societies

Outline: I will be exploring the different factors that contribute to the formation of identity in a Postmodern society and the idea that too many choices/influences have induced a new desire for singular, primary identities i.e. those based around fundamental religious beliefs/ rooted in a particular locality etc. Aims: • To investigate what ‘identity’ means in the Postmodern age. • To explore how the influence of social institutions such as the Church, state, patriarchal family etc has been eroded by factors such as globalisation and contrast this with the ways in which people were influenced by these things in the past. • To examine the ways we try to construct identity on a daily basis i.e. through consumer culture and provide an exposition of the range of choices available to us. • To show that Postmodernism and the ‘Network Society’ in the ‘Information Age’ may leave the individual feeling detached from any kind of immediate society/community meaning that the chaos and pastiche of postmodernity has led to a need for direction and this is leading to a ‘regrouping’ around primary identities. • To provide an exposition of different types of primary identity such as the American Militia and religious fundamentalist groups. Sources: My key thinker will be Manuel Castells and I will be using his book: ‘The Power of Identity’. Further sources will include:- • David Harvey: The Condition of Postmodernity • Craig Calhoun: Social Theory & The Politics of Identity • Anthony Giddens: Modernity & Self Identity • Charles Lasch: The culture of Narcissism