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Book part
Publication date: 30 June 2011

Angelique M. Davis and Rose Ernst

Direct democracy by citizen initiatives is often heralded as the avenue for the true will of the people to be heard. While scholars have debated whether this leads to a…

Abstract

Direct democracy by citizen initiatives is often heralded as the avenue for the true will of the people to be heard. While scholars have debated whether this leads to a form of Madison's “tyranny of the majority,” the debate over the concrete impact of such initiatives on racially marginalized groups remains unsettled. We examine a different question about racially marginalized groups' interests in this process: the symbolic assertion of white supremacy expressed through this mechanism of majority will. We develop the concept of “racial spectacles” to describe the narrative vehicles that serve to symbolically reassert and reinforce real existing racial hierarchies and inequalities. We explore the creation of these spectacles through the initiative process because it is a state-sanctioned vehicle that enables white dominance. Paradoxically, these campaigns that purport to be colorblind depend on the enactment of these racial spectacles. Through an analysis of five statewide anti-affirmative action initiative campaigns from 1996 to 2008, we explore both macro and micro political dynamics: public displays of these campaigns as well as individual, private agency expressed in the public and private act of voting; court decisions in initiative litigation as well as individual and interest group participation in these cases. Ultimately, we argue that this form of racial spectacle further inculcates the public in the postracial ideology of colorblindness.

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Studies in Law, Politics, and Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-080-3

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Book part
Publication date: 28 July 2008

Kevin Fox Gotham and Daniel A. Krier

Since Karl Marx fashioned his theory of capitalism in the nineteenth century, scholars have continually updated Marxian theory to capture the pervasiveness of commodity…

Abstract

Since Karl Marx fashioned his theory of capitalism in the nineteenth century, scholars have continually updated Marxian theory to capture the pervasiveness of commodity relations in modern society. Influenced by Georg Lukács and Henri Lefebvre, the members of the French avant-guard group, the Situationist International (1957–1972), developed an intransigent critique of consumer capitalism based on the concept of the spectacle. In the spectacle, media and consumer society replace lived experience, the passive gaze of images supplants active social participation, and new forms of alienation induce social atomization at a more abstract level than in previous societies. We endeavor to make two theoretical contributions: First, we highlight the contributions of the Situationist International, pointing out how they revised the Marxian categories of alienation, commodification, and reification in order to analyze the dynamics of twentieth century capitalism and to give these concepts new explanatory power. Second, we build a critical theory of consumer capitalism that incorporates the theoretical assumptions and arguments of the Situationists and the Frankfurt School. Today, critical theory can make an important contribution to sociology by critically examining the plurality of spectacles and their reifying manifestations. In addition, critical theorists can explore how different spectacles connect to one another, how they connect to different social institutions, and how spectacles express contradictions and conflicting meanings. A critical theory of spectacle and consumption can disclose both novelties and discontinuities in the current period, as well as continuities in the development of globalized consumer capitalism.

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No Social Science without Critical Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-538-3

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Article
Publication date: 27 April 2020

Bikram Chatterjee, Carolyn J. Cordery, Ivo De Loo and Hugo Letiche

In this paper, we concentrate on the use of research assessment (RA) systems in universities in New Zealand (NZ) and the United Kingdom (UK). Primarily we focus on PBRF…

Abstract

Purpose

In this paper, we concentrate on the use of research assessment (RA) systems in universities in New Zealand (NZ) and the United Kingdom (UK). Primarily we focus on PBRF and REF, and explore differences between these systems on individual and systemic levels. We ask, these days, in what way(s) the systemic differences between PBRF and REF actually make a difference on how the two RA systems are experienced by academic staff.

Design/methodology/approach

This research is exploratory and draws on 19 interviews in which accounting researchers from both countries offer reflections on their careers and how RA (systems) have influenced these careers. The stories they tell are classified by regarding RA in universities as a manifestation of the spectacle society, following Debord (1992) and Flyverbom and Reinecke (2017).

Findings

Both UK and New Zealand academics concur that their research activities and views on research are very much shaped by journal rankings and citations. Among UK academics, there seems to be a greater critical attitude towards the benefits and drawbacks of REF, which may be related to the history of REF in their country. Relatively speaking, in New Zealand, individualism seems to have grown after the introduction of the PBRF, with little active pushback against the system. Cultural aspects may partially explain this outcome. Academics in both countries lament the lack of focus on practitioner issues that the increased significance of RA seems to have evoked.

Research limitations/implications

This research is context-specific and may have limited applicability to other situations, academics or countries.

Practical implications

RA and RA systems seem to be here to stay. However, as academics we can, and ought to, take responsibility to try to ensure that these systems reflect the future of accounting (research) we wish to create. It is certainly not mainly or solely up to upper management officials to set this in motion, as has occasionally been claimed in previous literature. Some of the academics who participated in this research actively sought to bring about a different future.

Originality/value

This research provides a unique contextual analysis of accounting academics' perspectives and reactions to RA and RA systems and the impact these have had on their careers across two countries. In addition, the paper offers valuable critical reflections on the application of Debord's (1992) notion of the spectacle society in future accounting studies. We find more mixed and nuanced views on RA in academia than many previous studies have shown.

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Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 29 March 2011

Shahzad Uddin, Bernard Gumb and Stephen Kasumba

This paper aims to focus on building an interpretive framework for understanding accounting practices and changes, drawing on the situationist concept of the “spectacle”.

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to focus on building an interpretive framework for understanding accounting practices and changes, drawing on the situationist concept of the “spectacle”.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews the existing accounting and management literature in light of the concept of the spectacle. The paper presents empirical illustrations of participatory budgeting as a form of the spectacle and the role of donor agencies in local government reforms in Uganda, based on interviews and observations.

Findings

It is argued that the transformational – rather than just metaphoric – dimension of the spectacle has the potential to provide a better understanding of accounting practices and their transformations in the context of ever‐changing capitalism, and to further contribute to the critical accounting literature. Drawing on Debord's work, the paper also extends one's understanding of why donor agencies export ideas, including accounting practices and technologies.

Practical implications

The paper further enriches the possibility of critical consciousness and praxis in transforming and shaping the spectacle. By understanding the construction of the spectacle and its transformations, as Boje et al. argued, avenues for resistance are opened up.

Originality/review

The paper provides a perspective for the understanding of accounting changes, and it should open up avenues for further research regarding various forms of the spectacle that involve accounting techniques and practices.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 23 November 2012

Douglas Kellner

Purpose – This chapter examines the role of the media, guns, and violence in the social construction of masculinity in today's mediatized American culture.Methodology …

Abstract

Purpose – This chapter examines the role of the media, guns, and violence in the social construction of masculinity in today's mediatized American culture.

Methodology – The chapter draws on critical theory and cultural studies to address crises of masculinity and school shootings. It applies and further develops Guy Debord's (1970) theory on spectacle in the contexts of contemporary violent media spectacles.

Findings – In the chapter it is argued that school shooters, and other indiscriminate gun killers, share male rage and attempts to resolve crises of masculinity through violent behavior; exhibit a fetishism of guns or weapons; and resolve their crises through violence orchestrated as a media spectacle. This demands growing awareness of mediatization of American gun culture, and calls for a need for more developed understanding of media pedagogy as a means to create cultural skills of media literacy, as well as arguing for more rational gun control and mental health care.

Originality/value of paper – The chapter contributes to the contemporary debate on mediatization of violence by discussing it within critical theory and cultural studies. The theoretical framework is applied to analysis of a range of different empirical cases ranging from school shootings to the Colorado movie theater massacre at the first night of the latest Batman movie in the summer of 2012.

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School Shootings: Mediatized Violence in a Global Age
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-919-6

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Book part
Publication date: 18 November 2015

Fatima Regany and Julie Emontspool

This paper investigates how members of ethnic minorities perceive ethnic-themed retail spectacles staged by mainstream marketers.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper investigates how members of ethnic minorities perceive ethnic-themed retail spectacles staged by mainstream marketers.

Methodology/approach

The data was collected in the North of France, through ethnographic methods combining in-depth interviews with French-Moroccan consumers, field observation of their shopping behavior in supermarkets, and online discussions on the subject.

Findings

The consumers’ responses reflect perceptions of dystopia, articulated in two interrelated types of discourses: inclusion versus exclusion on the one hand, and consumerism and the commodification of religion on the other. Spectacles aimed at being a cosmopolitan utopia into a spectacle become thus perceived as dystopic, alienating consumers who belong to ethnic minorities, some of whom will as a result oppose or boycott the supermarkets.

Research limitations/implications

Given its phenomenological focus on consumers’ perception, this study provides an emic perspective on the phenomenon of ethnic retail spectacles. Further research should therefore study these contexts from multiple angles, in order to consider the role of other market actors such as retailers or the larger socio-political context.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to existing research by providing an understanding of ethnic minorities’ perceptions of product cross-over, understudied until now when it comes to mainstream marketplaces. Moreover, it highlights the importance of studying retail environments such as supermarkets, where ethnic spectacles enter consumers’ everyday life.

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Consumer Culture Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-323-5

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Book part
Publication date: 1 July 2004

Jinee Lokaneeta

This paper argues that contemporary executions by lethal injection represent spectacles of death. This spectacle of death upholds the sovereignty of the liberal state by…

Abstract

This paper argues that contemporary executions by lethal injection represent spectacles of death. This spectacle of death upholds the sovereignty of the liberal state by evoking a sense of fear among the citizens. The State uses the apparently “painless” and “humane” form of execution by lethal injection to legitimize the death penalty in the U.S. I take the example of McVeigh’s execution to suggest that spectacles of execution continue in modern society, along with disciplinary processes that the liberal state depends on for its legitimacy. This paper, thus, aims to contribute towards a rethinking of a Foucauldian notion of power.

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Studies in Law, Politics and Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-109-5

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Article
Publication date: 7 January 2014

Terence Michael Garrett

The central contribution of the paper aims to provide a new way of thinking and reflecting about using a more critical public policy approach as opposed to the heretofore…

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1221

Abstract

Purpose

The central contribution of the paper aims to provide a new way of thinking and reflecting about using a more critical public policy approach as opposed to the heretofore dysfunctional dichotomist approach common to the immigration policy debate.

Design/methodology/approach

Using critical theoretical approaches primarily based on Debord and Agamben, the author compares and contrasts the approaches made by immigration reform policy advocates and opponents to obtain a better understanding of these complex issues and the motivations behind them.

Findings

Viewing the policy immigration and border policy discourse from the market spectacle lens allows the author to see the seemingly never-ending conflict to be fully disclosed. Corporate profit-seekers have used effectively the politics of fear surrounding the terrorist attacks of 9-11, the ongoing fear generated against undocumented border crossers along with the property takings of US citizens through the use of the complexities of the dominant market language in the name of the 9-11 and the subsequent War on Terror. The author's primary intention was to expose the motivations of public policy makers and place their policy decisions into a critical context.

Originality/value

In this original paper, the author analyzes events such as the border fence construction – and the corporatist influence behind its development, the push to politically disenfranchise Latinos in Arizona, and the inability of the US Congress to pass legislation for meaningful immigration reform and border security – that have all been subject to the limitations of language, symbols and images portrayed by protagonists and antagonists of market-driven immigration policy. The value of the paper is that the author demonstrates the problems and limitations on public policy.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 41 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Sanja Pupovac and Lee Moerman

The purpose of this paper is to use a hybrid account of oil spills in Nigeria to explore the recursive relationship between a multinational company, specific shareholders…

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1239

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to use a hybrid account of oil spills in Nigeria to explore the recursive relationship between a multinational company, specific shareholders and the public. A response to Mr and Mrs Shareholders’ concerns is considered an exercise in corporate discursive hegemony and enacts rhetorical accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors adopt Debord’s (1967, 1988) concept of the spectacle with Boje’s (2001) antenarrative approach as a critical postmodern framing of Shell’s narrative of oil spills in both local and global contexts. An antenarrative approach considers how stories are woven to produce a unified and omnipotent narrative or image.

Findings

MNCs face considerable uncertainties arising from the operational conditions in developing countries and produce a range of accounts for spectators. As theatrical events, they contribute to the spectacle of power that rationalises controversy and suppresses resistance.

Research limitations/implications

To overcome the limitations of using a single document as empirical material the authors consider the response letter as an example of an institutional framing of oil spill phenomena in general.

Social implications

By understanding the construction of the spectacle the authors open avenues for resistance to corporate discursive hegemony in the form of carnivalesque.

Originality/value

The paper adds to the understanding of hybrid forms of resistance in an era of increasing MNC power and reach. It demonstrates how the actual production and distribution has persuasive power as a form of rhetorical accountability.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2012

Terence M. Garrett and Arthur Sementelli

Public management is moving towards more control by executives in the name of the people. Executive knowledge is privileged by initiatives such as new public management…

Abstract

Purpose

Public management is moving towards more control by executives in the name of the people. Executive knowledge is privileged by initiatives such as new public management and collaborative public management that promote the market spectacle. The purpose of this paper is to employ a “radical,” or critical, interpretation based primarily on concepts and social critiques developed by Marx, by Weber and by Debord, to offer a position, polemic, and perspective regarding the nature and effects of public management on the American polis.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors develop a social critique of bureaucracy and government towards domination governance of the polis primarily by developing and using the theoretical work of scholars such as Marx, Weber, and Debord for this analysis.

Findings

These developments towards more control by executives are corrosive to the last vestiges of representative democracy in the USA.

Originality/value

The question remains as to whether it is too late to reform, or turn back, the onset of the new public managerialism and whether the current condition of public administration is a symptom of the overall market spectacle trend.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 39 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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