Sunday, April 6, 2008

Seminar 2: Marxism vs Capitalism & co-optation through media

“A Marxist tradition sees the media as integrated into the existing economic and political elites and therefore reflecting their interests. The liberal approach sees the media as facilitating social agreement through the dissemination of information and contrary opinion. The classical Marxist view sees one class as manipulating the media's content.”

“[Antonio Gramsci] argued that a social group or class exercised dominance in part by force, but more importantly by consent, by obtaining the consent of the majority. The media thus had a central role in developing public compliance. Political and cultural institutions had a 'relative autonomy' from the economic base.”

“The notion of hegemony combined these notions of force and consent, and rested on a particular set of beliefs and ideas that had broad appeal. Central ideologies are seen as becoming most powerful when they are accepted as common sense, i.e. when they are not seen as ideologies at all. According to Gramsci, we can judge ideology to be effective if it is able to connect with the 'common sense' of the people. The ruling class [in Italy] struggled to retain its hegemony over the proletariat. It formally allowed contestation of ideas, which in fact, through linguistic codes etc, the ruling classes' interests were perpetuated. This approach stressed the media's content.”

Arguably the media is an important site of this battle to establish central and dominant ideas and ways of looking at the world. Must any counter-hegemonic project (socialism, radical democracy, feminism, environmentalism) establish a successful media strategy.”

As I gather, in the Marxist state the dominant class obtains such hierarchy through consent of the majority of people, thereby using the mass media for developing public conformity and obedience. This method is certainly relative to an in-class discussion of Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA) being used in ours homes, work places, churches, schools etc. as a tool for cultivating and sustaining the ideologies of the ruling class. Furthermore, Gramsci stresses that the most powerful ideologies were accepted as common sense and thus when they aren’t seen as “ideologies”. If we are all being asked to participate in culture and media in general, then through interpellation we should seek in order to intercede on the ideologies of our hegemonic institutions. What if we ditched our capitalist idealism? Nearly impossible since we are a culture too satisfied with our lives in the moment; obsessing over getting what we want, when we want it. Despite the dilemma we face when we attempt to give up our capitalist grounds, there may be some options left unexplored for whatever reason. “Dominant views are of course open to contestation, and to those who wish to promote counter-hegemony.” Could a step away from our capitalist ideals, such as a communist movement, be suitable to provide a counter-hegemonic alternative?


1 comment:

I. Reilly said...

i like that you're drawing from the work of others to work through your own ideas regarding difficult, abstract concepts and theories.

keep writing,