Chapter 5: Economic Theory, Marxism, and Material Culture

Kevin Durán
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Kevin Durán
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Summary Chapter 5, additional notes on the book.

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Chapter 5: Economic Theory, Marxism, and Material Culture
  1. Human Labor
    1. Labor that involves everything from designing, manufacturing, transporting, advertising and selling
    2. Marxist Theory and Alienation
      1. Separation of man's true nature from his sense of self
        1. Consumer Cycle
          1. We purchase things in order to assuage our sense of frustration with our situation, not recognizing why we act the way we do.
        2. Class Conflict/Struggle: unequal distributions of goods
          1. Bourgeoisie: own the means of production, ruling class
            1. Proletariat: the workers exploited by the bourgeoisie
              1. "False Consciousness" (Amrican Dream)
              2. Advertising
                1. Main engine of consumer/capitalist culture. Dominates everyday life and social relationships
                  1. Immediate goal is to sell artifacts/products. Turn away attention from exploitation
                  2. Henri Lefebvre
                    1. Advertising gives all objects their valuation
                      1. Industry inducing people to buy objects/products that gives value and status.
                        1. Has taken control of everyday life and gives everyone attitudes and sense of style, informing their purchases and lives.
                    2. Thorstein Veblen
                      1. consumption = enhanced sense of self
                        1. Looking for hidden functions of objects to understand the role they play in our lives. Problem, never satisfied
                      2. Max Weber
                        1. Argues Calvinist theology is behind the creation of capitalism, attitudes towards possessions
                          1. "Divine Providence"
                            1. Determines economic fate, justifies the unequal distribution of wealth is a great comfort to those who form the ruling class, justifying position and lifestyle
                          2. Material goods have gained inexorable power over lives of men
                          3. Georg Simmel
                            1. Deal with the development of the new models of artifacts we use
                              1. Infinite regress in fashion, creating "new" stuff.
                            2. Walter Benjamin
                              1. Interested in the impact of mass production on objects
                                1. Aura = Authenticity
                                  1. Loss of it in mass produced objects, relies upon the presence of originals,
                                    1. Art no longer is based on focus on the creative artist and process
                                    2. Band products/good name attached to the creator
                                  2. Postmodernism
                                    1. Dissolves boundaries between elite culture and popular culture
                                      1. Authenticity not important
                                        1. Publicity
                                          1. Language in itself, used to make a single proposal
                                            1. Feeds upon the real, always about the future buyer.
                                              1. Is about social relations, not objects
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