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Ch 5- Ideology and Conformity- The Political Economy of Youth.doc

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Sociology 2105A/B
James Cote

Ch 5- Ideology and Conformity: The Political Economy of Youth - this chapter examines the ways in which the half empty situation facing many young people is disguised, through design, opportunism, or the simple fact that many peoples view of the world is slanted by their need to see things in an unrealistically positive, half full manner that ignores the entire situation in terms of both structure and content The Politics of Social Control: Disguising Corporate Manipulations - political economists argue that the roots of structures in society lie in objective conditions produced by the distribution of power, particularly economic and political power - young people are viewed as a disenfranchised class without significant economic, political, or social power - lulled into false consciousness to mask this, so that they accept practices and beliefs that work directly against their own interests; that ones alienation is the norm - associated with false consciousness if the belief that if something bad happens to someone (even oneself), he or she is at fault, not the system - easier to control ppl emotionally when they are financially vulnerable or unsure of economic security, by influencing how they define their sense of identity - youth hungry for emotions, identity, and tastes to be defined for them - goods are made appealing to youth b/c they have an identity-conferring quality built into them- you assume that quality through wearing or consuming said product - from political-economy perspective, system is in the perfect arrangement for capitalist enterprises that have as their primary objective profit maximization - to perpetuate system, necessary to maintain a consensus that this system is not only good, but the best, and that all alternatives are bad--> manufacture consent The Manufacture of Consent - term manufacturing consent was coined by journalist Walter Lippmann in early 20th century, has since been popularized by Herman and Chomsky, and Caldicott - Herman and Chomsky use the concept to show how the mass media filter information so that the interests of political, military, and economic lites are not challenged - Caldicott employs manufacturing consent in her description of how American business interests spread anti-unionism and fear of communism using public relations techniques, while simultaneously establishing an equation of free enterprise with democracy and God - Caldicott: it became necessary to manufacture public consensus in US/other liberal democracies after the right to vote extended to all citizens above 21 yrs - before the spread of the voting franchise, economic and political lites maintained power through electing their own members for gov/political positions - important tool they relied on was public relations campaigns designed to establish the dominance of certain beliefs among the general public - in political matters, those responsible for manufacturing consent are referred to as spin doctors, whose job is to take information that is either neutral or opposed to those they represent, and twist it to suit their own ends - implication of this: b/c public is not expected to think for itself, people are encouraged to let others tell them what is best for them - Bernays The Engineering of Consent (1955)- description of persuasion techniques developed by mainstream public relations firms, mass consent could be engineered through the adjustment of public opinion - he taught women how to smoke by equating smoking with womens liberation- hired group of New York debutantes to march, smoking cigarettes, in the 1929 Easer parade (prior to this only prostitutes smoked in public), photos of these liberated women were subsequently circulated in newspapers worldwide by his PR firm - manufacture of consent/hegemony refers to the process by which political acceptances of forms of rule and government is literally molded or engineered - dangerous b/c when people believe they have arrived to opinions bythemselves, when really they were coerced, theyre less likely to question them as influenced - thus, writers such as Chomsky and Caldicott paint the social and economic order as superficial and inherently unstable in the absence of continual efforts to maintain a fabricated consensus that feeds a false consciousness - when that superficiality and instability are broken, consent can give way to dissent - youth culture dissent is not only not a threat to economic system (capitalism), but is now an integral part of it - instead, dissent increasingly takes the form of youth-on-youth violence and youth gangs, which are now taken-for-granted realities, ppl believe things were always this way but that society is just harder on young ppl now - in order to preserve their positions of privilege, those in authority must convince the nonprivileged that their positions at the bottom of the social hierarchy were freely and fairly arrived at- ppl view things in individual instead of systemic terms - NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)- eliminates local jobs b/c cheap labour is so
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