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Sociology 2105A/B Chapter Notes -Side Effect, Totalitarianism, Consumerism


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC 2105A/B
Professor
James Cote

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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 people’s 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
one’s 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

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-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 élites
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 élites
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 women’s
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 by

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themselves, when really they were coerced, they’re 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 sold to developing countries youth labour market here
is heavily concentrated in low-paying service sector jobs
-this is where it becomes necessary to ensure that youth do not develop
political consciousness to disrupt the “new economy” wrought by
globalization forces that erode tax bases and eliminates local jobs
-powerful evidence for the manufacture of consent around materialistic
values as opposed to the more personally empowering sense of purpose
in life
-since 1960’s values of “developing a meaningful philosophy of life” and
“being financially very well-off” have almost traded places in terms of
being rated as primarily important- study suggests just how effective
consent-manufacturing mechanisms have been in transforming the way
young ppl think so that their priorities are more complementary to
dominant interests
-the moral-ethical concern is that among young people there has been an
increasing emphasis placed on a “feel-good” existence, with little or no
regard for long-term objectives or costs
-as a result, young people are encouraged to escape into technological
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