2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Mass Media of Repression within the Culture Industry

For my stage 3 dissertation, my object of study is mass media, specifically on the subject of repression within the culture industry. I will firstly mention philosopher, Theodor Adorno’s concept of the culture industry, explaining his belief that those who govern society have purposefully caused a standardisation of the media. This creates a domino effect of standardisation in both leisure and work time, that results in a submission to capitalist ideals. I will clarify, that this submission is apparent to Adorno, as during the reign of capitalism, creativity and pleasure have grounded to a halt, preventing new ideas or realisations, which consequently has led to a submission to the political regime.

In response to Adorno, I will discuss Astra Taylor’s concept of repressive technology in her book ‘The Peoples Platform’. Taylor, much like Adorno, argues that the culture industry has led to a growth of capitalist control and power, however, unlike Adorno, Taylor’s focus is on technology.

I will lastly explain Walter Benjamin’s concept of the aura. I will discuss how Benjamin believes that in order for a piece of art to have an aura, it must be authentic and original. Benjamin confesses that the aura of art has depleted as a result of technological advancements, as art can be reproduced easily, thus the original piece has lost its uniqueness. Benjamin, agreeing with Adorno, argues that this, in turn, causes a depletion of creativity. However, I will then reflect on his claim that, if used correctly, this new technology can be an opportunity for a political movement. He says this, as the reproduction of art allows it to be experienced by not just the bourgeoise class, but by all of society, as art has now become a form of mass media. As the opinions of those in power are now not the only ones being heard, the political regime can be challenged, and cultural homogenisation is prevented.

2016 Abstracts Stage 2

Gramsci and Benefits Street

The “State” should be understood not only as the apparatus of government, but also the “private” apparatus of “hegemony” or civil society.

Territory: Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks Concepts: The subaltern, cultural hegemony, integral state, war of position. Object: The Channel 4 Documentary Benefits Street.
In my project, I have used Gramsci’s philosophical concepts to critically examine the media’s domination over perceptions of the unemployed, with particular reference to Channel 4’s Benefits Street. The concepts will give an idea of how incoherent ideologies are formed and maintained and what, if anything, can we do to reject these ideologies.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Do the Mass Media and the Cult of Celebrity Alienate Us from Our True Selves?

In my project I discuss the effect that celebrity culture has on modern day society. The mass media have a stranglehold on what we see, what we read and what we believe through television, newspapers and the internet. It is almost inescapable but the question is does the power of the mass media and the cult of celebrity alienate us from ourselves and stunt our true desires in life?

In order to philosophically deconstruct this phenomenon my methodology revolves around the examination of the theories of Guy Debord and his notion of the spectacle, Theodor Adorno’s attack on mass culture in The Culture Industry and Karl Marx’s critique of commodity fetishism in Das Kapital.

“The more he contemplates, the less he lives; the more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires” (Debord, Society of the spectacle 16: 2004)

2005 Abstracts Stage 3

The Mass Media: Mass Manipulation

ADVERTISING. • Mass media intended to raise public political action. • Rise of capitalism lead to the increased importance of advertising revenue. • Mass-media serves market ends not public ends. This means public service programming suffers and entertainment increases. • Adorno and Horkheimer. The loss of public sphere and the rise of intellectualised entertainment. • Ideologies of consumerism define contemporary society. • Consumerism also defines and standardises values and morality. • Baudrillard. Advertising has altered the conditions of reality. • Advertising devalues the natural and exalts the consumption of commodity signs. NEWS AND PROPAGANDA. • Local newspapers eliminated in favour of national press. A national consciousness and fair representation. • Lack of alternative sources means that the news is a powerfully influential medium. • Controlled by government and commercial interests. • Causes biased reporting. Worthy and unworthy victims. • Knowledge is the greatest power in society. A manipulative tool. • BBC important for returning power to the masses. CHILDREN AND MORAL PANICS. • Children’s educational programming suffered due to lack of revenue like public service programming. • Children continually targeted. Programming reduced to merchandising. • Predominantly violent. How does this affect children’s developing morals? • Moral panics and scapegoats. Violence and James Bulger. • Exclusion of youth and Subcultures. • Can subcultures exist in such a powerfully regulated society. TECHNOLOGY. • Technology has altered understanding of human condition and reproduction. • Body is dematerialised. A sign of ideologies. • Life is advertised. Life is a commodity. • Beck. These fears develop in a risk society. • What does the advertising and purchasing of life mean for society and class segregation?