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Exam Review Pop Culture.docx

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SOC 202
Stephen Muzzatti

Chapter 6 Textbook review: Introduction - Transamerica: a 2005 film about a 40-year-old transsexual woman who goes on a road trip with toby, a teenaged hustler. There is an interesting plot switch where we find out that toby is brees son who was fathered by bree while she was a man. This movie is an exploration of the traditional western theme of identity. - Much of the discussions in this chapter have to do with exploring the role of social and political forces in constructing narratives of identity -Genetics may have some role, but over all it is culture that gives us the ingredients to establish the lines of who we think we are - A critical issue in debates about the significance and limits of identity is the role of our bodies in determining who we are - The persistence of categories of gender, sexual orientation, and race as markers of identity and social power highlights the complex relationship between culture and physicality - The relationship between identity and agency, or the capacity each of us has to shape our own life, is a critical problem that informs many of the concerns we explore in this chapter - Essentialist theory: posit identity as fundamental, unchanging, core of meaning that precedes and transcends culture and politics. - Social constructivist theory: emphasizes cultural and political circumstances in which identities are produced; something inherent. The history of identity- some different theories - The seeming obviousness of the concept of individual identity belies the fact that, until th the 18 century, nobody gave much thought to it - The idea of the individual as a unique self, with deep psychological needs and preferences held no currency in social context - Who you were was defined by the role that you occupied in institutions such as family, church, class hierarchy and so on - It has changed because people were tired of being kept down by social conformity - Debates about this were not only concerned with personal identity but also with society itself Identity and the Unconscious - One of the first major bodies of work to concentrate on the grounds of identity was the field of psychoanalysis, pioneered by Sigmund Freud in the early part of the 20 centuryth - Sigmund developed a theory about the stages of identity development - Identities are not ore given or natural, but rather produced in order to manage chaotic fears and desires whose expression is socially forbidden - Baby’s theory suggests that they have no coherent identities to speak of and they do not realize they are separate from the world around them  Freudian theory of Psychosocial Development: - Two key moments in the process of psychosocial development are 1) the recognition of sexual difference, which hinges on the presence or absence of a penis and 2) the acquisition of language as a symbolic system that manages and mediates our relationship to the world, language is an important part of social machinery - Orienting oneself: the first which comes later to be associated with sexual feelings and the second; identification: involves the recognition of a similarity between oneself and the other that inspires you to be together (both of these drives are biologically rooted) - Civilization demands that we repress socially un acceptable fears and desires into the un conscious appear as dreams & fantasies etc - Sexual drives are by nature chaotic - polymorphous Identity and ideology: - The key lesson in Freud for understanding identity is not that it has no grounding in reality, rather it is that the stable and intelligible selves we articulate to the world and to our selves are constructions (kind of like a dam) - Later theorists, particularly feminist ones, emphasize the importance of culture in defining psychosexual development; stressed that Oedipal Complex and its resolution assume the shape they do in freuds theory b/c they are already over determined by values of capitalist, culture that lays stress on nuclear fam, possession of phallic authority and development of the individual. Marxist theories of identity: - The suggestion that not just the shape but also the very concept of individual identity is determined in particular cultural historic circumstances - Like Freud he understood the construction of identity as a response to underlying forces of which the individual is largely unconscious - He saw identity as a mythical armor made to help us cope with the gap between needs and desires and the social economy - Ideology played a role in securing the acceptance of exploited working lcas by promoting belief in the naturalness of the capitalist order and in freedom of the individual within it. - Ideological state apparatuses through which ideology is reproduced. - I Marx’s theory, ideology is the expression of underlying economic relations - Althusser had revised this theory saying that institutions such as universities and the media have a big impact on the individual self - In particular Althusser focused on the process he termed “interpellation” by which individuals are compelled to identify with social roles offered them - Mirror stage: describes the moment in which the child sees his reflection in the mirror and identifies with that image All Selves are not created equal - Identity may be an illusion, but it is an illusion that works for some people in a way that doesn’t for others - Stakes of ideology are different depending on what position one occupies in the class structure, or where sexual difference determines what identities and authorities are available to whom, based on physiological sex characteristics - According to marx and frued, socialization defines who we are and what kinds of identities it is possible to adopt  Feminist theories: - Women do not inhabit the myth of identity as comfortably as men gradually do - They are “the sex which is not one” Race- the empty Signifier - The function of race did not enter Freud’s theory, at least not in an obvious way - A man named Frantz Fanon challenged psychoanalytic theory to take into account the role of race and how racism has an effect in defining identity - Although Fanon was not overly sympathetic to feminism, his interventions shared with feminist critiques, his interventions shared with feminist critiques the instance that identity must be understood in the contexts of relations of power Hegemonic Masculinity: - the whole concept of identity is anchored to a mythic masculine norm however this idea does not extend to real men, even white men - the change in economy challenged the conventional ideas of masculinity - there was a change in the work place where the female sex had become more involved in jobs and the jobs that men did - there was also an identity crisis documented saying that men had moved away from the sphere of production to the girlie side of consumption (this was said by a theorist names Faludi) - fight club is a good example of how men went away from these ideas to maintain their masculinity - Latham Hunter suggests that these types of films (such as fight club) has a hegemonic model of masculinity characterized by aggression - Other forms of pop culture lay bare the crazy incongruity of traditional ideas about “real men” - For example The Offices satirizes conventional ideas of masculine power through characters such as Dwight Schrute whose fantasies of power contrast with his life as an assistant to the regional manager - **** BTW HEGEMONY MEANS AUTHORITY OR CONTROL Performativity: (judith butler) - some gender theorists employ the concept of performativity to challenge widely held assumptions of a natural connection between biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity (these assumptions look like: you have a penis you will like women, hunting, playing sports and watching 24) - performativity is an apt metaphor for the enactment of masculine and feminine identities - for those people who have always had precarious identities, their potential of performativity is implicit Identity and Power/ Knowledge: - a critical premise informing psycholanylitic and Marxist though, foregrounded by feminism, is that identity is defined by and through power  Michel Foucault: - French philosopher and social critic, he had devoted particular attention to that relationship (above), showing how power both constrains and produces social meaning - His theory departs from Marx in the understanding of how power operates society - He saw power as a function in a much more nuanced way - He suggested that power is not processed at all rather it circulates continuously throughout society concentrating at different places in different historic time periods - He observes that power shapes society productively rather than repressively - This does not mean that all effects of p
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