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CMNS 223W Lecture Notes - Fetishism, Advertising Campaign, Industrial Revolution

Course Code
Martin Laba

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Week 2 Tutorial
TA – Cassandra
E-mail -
Office hours – 3:30-4:30 Fridays
Tutorials worth 10%
-short presentation
-overall contribution (verbal)
Tutorial Schedule
-Every week bring in 150 words max. of critical summary of one of the readings of
that week and a question with the reading.
oUnderstand the reading and what the author is saying
oSummarize it in your own words (identifying a thesis etc.)
oBringing in your own questions and critiquing the author
-8-10 minute presentation
oBring in critical questions
oOne page handout – no more
oAvoid summaries of text
-Big group discussion
Week 2 Lecture
-advertising has been a critical tool in the early stages of capitalism (Fordism
brought upon the need to generate larger markets)
-ethos of progress + ethos of production = industrial revolution
oethos of production
draws from progress, but its concern is with producing things for
the sake of production to produce capital
capital reproduces the material means of productions (equipment,
machinery and labour)
social means of production (who does the work and who gains
from it)
oethos of progress
in the age of the industrial revolution is tied to a scientific
tied to knowledge and knowing how things work and why
-Feudalism – reciprocal of obligation
oLabour is now something that can be sold for a contractual obligation that
entitles you go get something in return (beginning of paid labor and

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oFor the laboring class, it offers the ability to survive by growing food on
land and water
oFor the upper class, they can offer the protection
-The commodity form
Karl Marx – commodity and fetish
-what determines the value of a product is actually the exchange value (novelty)
-believes that novelty should NOT be what determines the value because novelty
exist only because the knowledge of how it is made is not openly known and there
is no access to their method of production
oif these two conditions were met, then the value would be only that of its
use value
-Novelty - commodity reflects social characters of mens own labour of objective
characteristics of products of labour themselves
oQuote in book page 331 – first sentences/page
-Fetish is an object which embeds powers that it does not have
-Products of labour are given a power they don’t have
oThis determines the value of the product (COST)
-This fetish can be fixed by giving the means of production and knowledge of
productions to the people (MARX)
-Marx does not factor into his theory is the possibility that the working class may
not want this kind of social organization (a communist organization, working
class working as one).
oDid not take into account that the fetish may be a social construct
oPsycho-analysis says the fetish isn’t a result of a mistaken believe (if they
only knew better attitude), but it is a willed belief in the power of the
object (by giving power to the object, a self interest function is being
-The exchange of labor in feudalism gives a power back to the working class
(between land owners and serfs). This exchange relation is what the capital class
uses to exploit the hierarchy.
-Aristocracy and landowners go into the business of production
oThis creates the lack of access to production
oCreates a mysticism and ignorance of something is produced
Who owns and has access to the scientific knowledge of the
machines of production (the investors and owners)
Patents which put a restriction on production on designs even if
someone else comes upon it by mistake
During the industrial revolution, the biggest invention was the
assembly line

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The Assembly Line
-Each worker is trained to make a small portion of product using a tool that is
strange and unknown to the worker
-This causes the worker to not understand the finished product, alienates the
-Producers then turn around and sell the same product BACK to the laborer
-At the same time, being able to sell his labor as a commodity, they are given a
power to relate himself into capitalism.
oThe power of the work is nothing like the power of the consumer
oThe role of the worker is exploited by capitalist by forcing them to buy
their own products
-Mass production makes the producer into consumers
The introduction of mass production created the need to drive a new market of consumers
(CSR pg 24)
-Plays with the working class by saying they may have some control of their own
oCreates the psychological condition that makes the worker see himself as a
micro-capitalist and that their labor is improving their lives
oMeasured in shorter hours and higher wages, gives them more time/money
to consumer
oAlso creates the psychological requirements to consumer
oBy turning around and consuming the products of mass-production, the
laborer is fulfilling the idea that he now an upper class known as
-The worker as a micro-capitalist
oHis profit is best used into reinvesting it into himself by buying the mass-
distribution products
-The instinct to buy is played on by social scrutiny
oThe social self is not what other think of me, but what the view I have of
myself based on what I think others think about me.
oBy making people self-conscious of their attributes is much more effective
then trying to sell the products. Selling the flaws are easier.
oSatisfied consumers are not as profitable as discontented ones
-The work is made to believe his self-cultivation will increase his exchange value
will increase his economical freedom
oThe experience of freedom first comes as the ability to buy, then the
ability to shut out reality and buy out their own reality and finally
oIf you can’t escape your life, you will insulate yourself against the world
by buying things to create your home/world into a reality that you really
want. Everything is about differentiating yourself.
Things that we buy to create our own reality doesn’t exist partially
because of its mystified exchange value
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