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Lecture 5

CS203 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Antonio Gramsci, Dominant Ideology, Wallace Shawn

Communication Studies
Course Code
Greigory De Peuter

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ideology has been given a lot of definitions
has had an enormous inclement in communication studies
1. Marxism
Wallace Shawn
oFull of contradictions
oDoes acting work for some of the biggest media
companies on the planet
oAlso a vocal critic of the very economic system that
these companies are a part of
oVery accomplished play-write
“The Fever”
monologue of 1 person
protagonist is unnamed
the main character is from a big city in
North America
the main character is from a relatively
privileged social class
the narrator is traveling through an
unnamed country in the global South
caused him to struggle with a heightened
consciousness of the social system that they
are a part of
commodity fetishism
Karl Marx
oDevoted much of his life to a critical analysis of the
capitalist society
oThe scope of his work is massive
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oViewed capitalist societies composed of two opposing
1. Bourgeoisie (capitalist class)
Own the means of production
2. Proletariat (working class)
doesn’t own means of production
only owns their capacity to own work
sells it’s capacity to work to capitalists
oMarx wrote in the 1880s as industrial capitalism in
England is beginning to take off
Appalled by the labour, and miserable poverty
that people lived in
Proletariats are exploited by capital
He didn’t mean a simple “taken-advantage of”; he
meant something a lot more specific
Workers don’t receive in return for their
work the full economic value that their time
on the job generates
Keeping the extra to themselves, the
bourgeouise makes its profit on the backs of
the working class
Marx points out this isn’t voluntary,
considering that most of us don’t have other
options other than selling our work to
Not so equitable if the capitalist has control
over the means of production, and the
workers do not
This whole arrangement and the inequality that it
involves needs to be overthrown
Capitalism is not just an economic system
A system of social relationships
The social relationship that mattered most
to Marx was that of class
The relationship between the owners
and workers
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find more resources at

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The only logical root to overcoming
capitalism would be class conflict
No owner would willingly hand over
their factory to workers without a
Someone’s class position (where they sit in the
social relationships of capitalism) will shape their
consciousness or what they think
The assumption here is that our socio-
economic conditions will shape our ideas
In particular our position in the
For instance, perhaps people in the working
class will become conscious of their shared
exploitation and join forces to fight for the
economic interest
Maybe their position will form a kind of
consciousness of exploitation
This consciousness would inturn spur the
working class to rebel
Not necessarily the way things turn out
Here we can point to a distinction between a
social class in itself and a class for itself
Class in itself: a group that has a common
status in the economic system
E.g., all the workers at an Iphone
Class for itself: when that same group of
workers shares a high level of
consciousness of their shared situation of
being oppressed
Then set out to join forces
Class struggle
Collective efforts aimed at the complete
overthrow of the capitalist economy hasn’t been
the major feature of the last 50 years
One of the reasons for this is because of
something we call ideology
Ideology: to study ideology is to study how ideas
and power intersect
How ideas intersect with economic power
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