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Submitted by: Amrita Chatterjee Roll No. : H-1238 Course instructor: Prof. Uma Bhrugubanda Submitted on: 23.04.2013
Section I a) Reflect upon Jurgen Habermas’ description of “public sphere” and discuss how Nancy Fraser, Talal Asad and Sudipta Kaviraj critique his theorization and present alternative understandings of “public sphere”. Answer: The term “public sphere” in very simplistic and layman terms can be defined as a common space (geographic or social) where individuals can come together to identify and discuss problems of the society, thus paving the way for influencing political action regarding those problems. Gerard Hauser defines it as a “discursive space in which individuals and groups congregate to discuss matters of mutual interest and where possible, to reach a common judgement.” (Hauser, Gerard, “Vernacular Dialogue and the Rhetoricality of Public Opinion”, page 86) Jurgen Habermas is the foremost theorist on the concept of public sphere. Let us first look into what Habermas says about it. Habermas conceptualises public sphere as a domain within social life which can be accessed by all and where public opinion can be formed. Habermas opines that this concept is a fruit of democracy. The interactions within this space are independent of class hierarchies and people come together here out of their own will to participate in matters of general interest. Organized political authority is formed by the public through elections and the public sphere is the realm for influencing and criticizing this authority. The public sphere, according to Habermas, is different from both market-economy and the state. So Habermas‟ model helps to remind us about the distinctness of state apparatus, market-economy and democratic associations. These distinctions are indispensible to democratic theory.
it is made of organized communities . the difference was that more power was divested at each level of this class pyramid with the zenith of the structure holding all political authority. the formation of the liberal public sphere (people coming out of their private spaces to create the „public‟ and thus mediate between the state and the bourgeoisie so as to control the government) was an unparalleled incident in history. the public sphere was used in the past as a tool to critique and influence political decisions. As I have mentioned before. feudal authorities and church rule made way for autonomous pubic power towards the end of the eighteenth century. But now it itself is used for the benefit of certain interest groups. In today‟s world. Public sphere expanded its boundary for one thing and the public structure also changed. According to him. the character of the public sphere has been morphed in a very different way. The age of the bourgeoisie authority was slowly dawning and it was accorded autonomy with respect to the government. The public and the private spheres overlapped. As Habermas points out. After the medieval age was long past. The public is not constituted of individuals any more. This resulted in the rules‟ changed point of view: they understood themselves to BE the state and not its representatives. was the ultimate result of these developments. The public sphere. as Habermas puts it. thus their power was not held in behalf of the people. but TO the people. Public figures became rulers and vice-versa. But this liberal public sphere was not well-suited for the “modern industrialized democratic state” because the ideology associated with this model evolved with time.Habermas tries to situate the idea of “public sphere” historically and concludes that there was no concept of separate private and public domains during the medieval time. This happened due to the class hierarchies implicit in the feudal system. thus creating a new feudal framework for the public sphere. One huge factor that contributed to this was the rise of literary journalism as a public institution.
one of the foundations official public sphere was built on is a principle of exclusions. and the suspension of status hierarchies is itself deployed as a strategy of distinction. He also fails to adequately address some problematic structural assumptions underlying the bourgeoisie model. Revisionist scholars like Joan Landes.who exert their influence on the debates held in the public sphere through systematic use of institutional coercion. In Nancy Fraser’s “Rethinking the Public Sphere”. Habermas‟ theory needs to undergo critical questioning and reconstruction. based on some revisionist historiographic developments. classrelated exclusions also happened. Fraser offers an alternative account of this. we find a critique of Habermas‟ approach to and definition of the public sphere. Here. the other revisionist scholar Fraser . nonbourgeoisie public sphere that existed. Mary Ryan. Fraser‟s problem with Habermas starts when the latter does not conceptualize a new post-bourgeoisie model of the public sphere. rationality. Fraser argues that to theorize the limits of the existing late capitalistic democracy. Fraser points out that Habermas‟ idealization of the liberal public sphere fails to account for this irony that “a discourse of publicity touting accessibility. That will also help to conceptualize new and alternative modes of democracy which is urgently needed in today‟s world. Habermas‟ account of the structural transformation of the public sphere. I have discussed before. Eley takes this argument further by including Germany and England with France and also saying that in addition to gender. Mary Ryan and Geoff Eley have argued that despite appearances of full accessibility.” Fraser admirably points out that Habermas ended up idealizing the liberal public sphere because he does not pay any attention to the non-liberal. Landes say that the main exclusion is done on the basis of gender and masculinist gender constructs were integral to the formation of the Republic public sphere (in post-revolution France).
In place of the first two points. concludes that the public sphere rested on a class and gender-based notion of publicity and the exclusion of women from it was an ideological stand. she insists on a nexus of multiple public spheres formed under subaltern counter-publics or egalitarian conditions.mentions. She argues that the concept of plural publics is also suitable for a classless yet multi-cultural structure where discussion and deliberation across cultures can happen. So “the exclusions and conflicts that appeared as accidental trappings from his (Habermas‟) perspective. In such a case. In the public sphere. she says that the idea of common interests in the name of public good actually renders voiceless the „private‟ concerns of minorities like women‟s. This happens because the “common” is made up of the powerful people in the society and the “public” is defined in such a way as to make interests of the . 4. problematizes the following four assumptions central to this bourgeoisie masculinist concept of the public sphere: 1. A functional and democratic public sphere requires a sharp distinction between civil society and state. deliberation about private issues and interests are undesirable as opposed to discussion about common interests. the public sphere becomes a “structured setting of deliberation among many publics”. according to Fraser. 3.” Thus the public sphere as presented by Habermas rather acted as a vehicle for political domination through the construction of consent. The revisionist deconstruction of public. Fraser suggests alternatives to all the four assumptions. 2. A single public sphere is better for democracy than multiple publics. in the revisionists‟ view become constitutive (of the public sphere). Talking about the third assumption. Societal equality is not a necessary pre-requisite for existence of political democracy.
in his insightful article on the Islamic-headscarf-ban affair in France. but with respect to the dominant class in economy and gender) excluded from the public and included in the private sphere. is the intermediary space between the state and the matters of daily life. His central argument revolves around the fact that “essential to that formation al so is the political doctrine of secularism. Thus Nancy Fraser successfully modifies Habermas‟ theorization of the public sphere according to the needs of democratic system in a late-capitalistic society. In the end. But Asad‟s essay trumps these claims. Talal Asad. This definition thus becomes oppressive. We‟ll discuss that in the following pages. reflects on the changing nature of public sphere. thus rendering it incapable of influencing the decision-making process. he makes clear that public is defined as opposed to private. a parliamentary structure or institutions managed by the public like self-governed jobs and residential communities and other “hybrid forms” are stronger alternatives as they leave the decision-making to public sphere discourses.” He reflects on the possible meanings of the term “secularism” and how it is defined in a liberal democratic public sphere and to what extent that definition is followed and executed. He also agrees to Habermas‟ point that the concept of the public sphere was vital to the emergence of liberal democracy. For example. Habermas has idealized the liberal mode of public sphere by positing it as a perfectly accessible (by all) and rational domain and has said that it had utopian potential which was not fulfilled. The public sphere. this weakness can be mended if strong public systems replace the weak public sphere. much as Habermas said.minority (not necessarily numerical minority. In Fraser‟s opinion. At the outset. . Fraser critiques the final assumption by concluding that Habermas weakens the concept of the public sphere by positing it at a far too great distance from the state and decision-making authorities. Now let us turn to Talal Asad.
Asad thinks that the modern French state also abides by this law even though they claim to be a secular government looking after a largely irreligious people. Towards the end of the sixteenth century. even those attached to the individuals it represented and owed it allegiance to. with politics getting assigned to the public sphere while religion gets relegated to the private sphere. was a very important step. a controversy bubbled in France about whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear headscarves to public schools. The public space was ideally considered as a secular domain. At this point. This was introduced in an attempt to solve religious warfare by the adoption of a political scheme. A government commission of enquiry called the Stasi commission was set up to investigate into this affair. Asad visualises the public sphere as a space where certain groups of subjects of the state are made to be morally autonomous as long as they are socially responsible. Asad tries to trace the origin of the secular state. kippas and headscarves in public schools. The opinions against letting this happen were fuelled by the anxiety that the secular personality of the state of France was being distorted by the display of the headscarf (which people took as a symbol of Islam) since a state‟s personality is expressed through particular signs. They submitted a report that led to the ban of displaying of “conspicuous religious signs” like crosses. the states of Western Christendom decided that the religion of the ruler would be taken as the official religion of the subjects. This leads the author to the . In 2003. Thus this agenda did not stop religious and political persecution. But this only gave the state sovereign authority to decide upon the definition of religious tolerance and even who were deserving of religious tolerance.The separation between religion and politics. This step was deemed necessary because of the concept that rational discourse can only take place (in the public sphere) if that space is not dominated by religion.
So the relation between politics and religion becomes asymmetrical as religion is not supposed to intervene in politics as it is a private issue but politics can meddle with religious rights of people. To go back to the Stasi commission report. Now the Muslims who protested against the ban argued that wearing the headscarf is a Muslim girl‟s religious duty and if that right is taken away from them. Here Nancy Fraser‟s argument against Habermas (that the public sphere‟s obsession with „common‟ causes and the complete exclusion of „private‟ concerns ultimately negatively affects the dominated minorities whose interests are relegated as „private‟ and thus are neglected) becomes all the more relevant. This violates two rights: 1. 2. The rights of the minority.” Defenders of the ban argue that the French state is justifiably reluctant to acknowledge group identity within a Republic. Thus in the cases where the public overlaps with the private (like the wearing of headscarf to public schools which by French law are secular institutes). it “saw itself as presented with a difficult decision between two forms of individual liberty. irrespective of what the majority prefers.” The commission gave freedom of choice to the latter group on majoritarian grounds. Asad concludes that “this asymmetry is a measure of sovereign power. The religious freedom of every citizen which is their inalienable right. government takes over. This happens because of Habermas‟ assumption that the public . The Stasi commission separated discrete religious signs from conspicuous religious signs and allowed public display of the former while banning the latter. the relation between the two remains unequal. it is a case where the state takes away the rights of a particular section of its subjects the right to practise their own religion.that of girls whose desire was to wear the headscarf ( a minority) and that of girls who would rather not. as pointed out before.question that what are signs of the presence of religion in a society. Thus although the report insists that political power and religious choices are mutually exclusive seta. I think that this implies that the state is interfering in “private” sphere because it is there that religion is supposed to belong.
in his brilliant article “Filth and the Public Sphere: Concepts and Practices about Space in Kolkata”. He says that this (Habermas‟) concept of a secular private sphere fails when confronted with subjects who inhabit several public spheres across national and cultural boundaries (like the French Jews who relate to their Israeli counterparts and the French Muslims who are said to sympathise with the Palestinians). Asad then cites examples to prove this point. So Habermas‟ theories are not applicable to India. The author interprets this little act of disobedience as a deep-rooted thing and not merely an . Now it is time to take a look at Sudipta Kaviraj‟s notion of the public sphere and see whether it is compatible with Habermas‟ concept. Here Asad also brings in another argument that the French state was never a society comprised of individual persons with collective rights. takes a refreshing look at the way public spaces are conceptualised in the colonial city of Kolkata. Sudipta Kaviraj. Kaviraj starts with a simple anecdote about a photo published in a Calcutta newspaper which shows a few people urinating in front of a sign prohibiting the act of urination in that place. Asad contradicts Habermas‟ concept of public sphere by concluding that “the public sphere in modern secular societies is more than a space of communication and debate” and is comprised of citizen subjects for whom it is not easy to achieve a divorce of politics from religion. Let us leap over to the questions that Asad identifies as excluded from the formation of a secular private sphere.sphere is a singular entity. instead. but we don‟t need to go into that now. French citizens have enjoyed rights by virtue of their association with particular religious groups. The author feels that is the reason liberal states impose disciplinary laws on their peoples in the name of secularism. Basically what comes out of his essay is that the way Western societies look at public spaces and public sphere and the way Indians look at them are completely different.
educationally and class-wise backward people rarely get any chance to act against the middle class and these small acts of insubordination are a means to increase their self-worth to themselves. upper-caste conservative crowd tried to stay well away from the colonial influence and in doing so. Kaviraj suggests that the pre-colonial Indian concepts of inside/outside. which sometimes coincided with the “public” for them. The middle-class bourgeoisie idea of public space and the lower class‟ idea of it are also completely different and the idea that a city has to be clean as opposed to villages is a very bourgeoisie idea inherited from the colonial masters. ghare/baire (title of a Tagore novel) changed vastly when it encountered the West and the mapping of the Western ideas brought about an amalgamation to which the “enlightened” middle and upper classes were privy. The poor were alienated from such influences and they in fact got access to public places like public parks pretty late in the day and that too mainly through the Partition and other population influxes in Kolkata. Thus it is not possible to apply Habermas‟ theory to Bengal. which the middle class cringed from. The economically. But even their households were afraid of dealings with the “outside”. Habermas says that the public sphere is that which is external to the bourgeoisie family and conceptualises the “public” as a . The poor and the lower classes were basically connected to them by serving them in various forms and capacities. who were in contact with the British for serving them. sort of modified and Anglicised the Indian notions of marriage to companionship. tightened the boundaries of the private against the public which they interpreted as the polluted or corrupt “outside”. They came in daily contact with each other but the middle class public sphere was really inaccessible to these people in the way Habermas visualises. apna/paraya.impulse. The poor and the rigid. They maintained a safe distance from each other and did not overshadow each others‟ social circles. The middle and upper class people. Kaviraj argues that the poor got access to the public spaces by erecting a boundary of filth around them.
“public” came to be defined only as a negative of private. without any value of its own: a space from which they cannot be evicted by somebody‟s property rights over them. Since this imagination is primarily created in schools through the relentless repetitiveness of the curricula forms of historical memory.” Thus Nancy Fraser. they do not share the lower middle classes‟ mode of living in history. The Western sense of the “public” and the way it is intrinsically and contradictorily bound with the bourgeoisie notion of the private. and the destitute are deprived of that essential constituent of citizenship.. To quote Kaviraj. b) Discuss the enlightenment idea of the self and the ways in which Freud. as has been briefly discussed in the previous paragraphs. Application of this thesis results in a negative paradox. the nation of which they were now an indispensible and sovereign part was a more distant tenuous imagination. Lacan and Foucault have fundamentally critiqued it. “to the poor..” Habermas‟ proposition or even Fraser‟s revisionist model is completely different to the way public sphere evolved in Bengal. What different ways of thinking about subjectivity do they offer? Answer: . Talal Asad and Sudipta Kaviraj all contribute to critique Habermas‟ theorization of the public sphere and put forward alternative understandings of the notion. For the poor and destitute people.reciprocation of the “private”. . cannot be applied to the “historical transformations (of the public sphere) in Bengal.
”) Descartes also emphasises that the self which is constructed by the use of one‟s rational faculties can be used to order the world. Enlightenment cannot be taken as a homogeneous or single entity and there are contradictions within it. In his Confessions (1781). Rousseau and Kant. Rousseau writes extensively about . The philosophical ideas that emerged at this time can be said to be in reaction to the previous strands of thought and also to condition of the contemporary world. The most important theories regarding the self that were put forward during this era belonged to the three lading thinkers of the time: Descartes. experiences and feelings. His most famous statement remains “Cogito ergo sum”. His theory of selfhood is based on the individual‟s conception and understanding of reality. Descartes‟ epistemology is in relation to the meaning of the self: the meaning of the word “I”. (He wrote: “I am a real being and really exist. rational and autonomous body. It was at this time that subjectivity emerged as a major concept and subject was considered to be a free. His work is situated at the intersection of the rationality that Enlightenment thinkers so emphasised on and the stress on sensibilities and feelings which emerged out of Romanticism. but what sort of being? As I said.” Descartes held that the “self” is the foundation of the world around us and it is this “self” that creates our knowledge. The other thing that he stresses on is the importance of conscious thought over any other impulse. a conscious being. It means “I think therefore I am.Enlightenment ideas of the self: The enlightenment period was an intellectual movement during the seventeenth and eighteenth century which was a significant turning point in Western philosophy and thought. This period stretched from the time of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) to the French Revolution of 1789. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a later-day Enlightenment thinker. the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century movement.
will have no imitator. Thus each person‟s experiences are worth noting down as it has “.. he says. His Critique of Pure Reason written towards the end of the eighteenth century is a very important work on Enlightenment. He also wrote a famous response to a magazine question. and which. once complete. titled “Was ist Aufklärung?” (What is Enlightenment?). This immaturity. Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who appeared on the scene at a still later date. there must be something that is present to do the viewing or the perceiving. Thus any dealing we might have with the world is channelled through this “self”. This is the “self”. But Kant argues that before any of this happens.himself. therefore. The goal of human life. We look at something form our own representations of it. is in a state of perfection which is then distorted by their encounters with society and history. is to go back to that pure and hallowed individuality with which one was born because this is the only way through which one can liberate the self from prejudice. He says that he is different (in a good way or bad) than all other individuals on this Earth. I feel that here he is not talking about only himself. error and suffering..no precedent. Humans themselves are responsible for this deterioration. When we are communicating these observations to ourselves or others. his personal experiences and thoughts. the latter says that it is our conscious attempts to take meaning out of our experiences that attaches meaning to the “self”. especially Confessions. we say (or even if we . He is talking about how every person is different from every other. Rousseau believes that a human child when born. lies in man‟s lack-of-desire to use his own understanding without the tutelage of others.” This sufficiency of individualism is a key thought in Rousseau‟s works. We know that our world is formed by the perceptions that we make about our surroundings. Thus we see that Rousseau‟s thought deviated from Descartes‟ at a fundamental point: while the former says that the “I” or “self” derives meaning because of the experiences of an individual. In it he says that enlightenment is man‟s liberation from his self-imposed immaturity.
if we are to make any sense out of our dealings with our surroundings. Thus..L. Freud. unified self. It was at this juncture of thought that Freud appeared in the scene. Lacan and Foucault) have tried to interrogate. subjectivity can have content only through an awareness of the world and this awareness.. The unconscious mind comprises our biologically-driven instincts like sex and aggression (eros and thanatos). we must be conscious of our own selves. The only manifestation of this unconscious mind comes through the most trivial of our . This cannot happen if the self is not self-conscious.don‟t. This must happen even before we have a sense of our “I” as different from everybody else‟s. we mean it) “I think. According to Kant. Thus he differs from Rousseau. Freud brought to the fore his theories of the unconscious. comes from an awareness of the “self”. Stevenson (Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde) to Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) began to tell the stories of horror when the rational mind could not control the irrational impulses of the human mind and was eventually overpowered by the latter. Writers ranging from R. He did not agree with the Enlightenment idea of the centred. Thus Enlightenment made the individual an issue and it is this concept that the twentieth century thinkers (like Freud. Lacan and Foucault’s ideas of Subjectivity and how they differ from the Enlightenment thinkers: Nineteenth century fiction began to reject the Kantian idea of the human consciousness being the definitive factor in an individual‟s relationship with the world. in turn. It is buried under our conscious mind and we are unaware of it because of its disturbing and irrational nature. He did not reject all aspects of Enlightenment thought but differed with it in so far as the essentialist ideas presented by it. according to Kant.” and thus “I” is present in all consciousnesses.
Freud‟s works explain how the topography of the subject is built. preconscious and unconscious aspects. We can be aware of it easily. He extended Freud's critique of the centred. Instead he argues that the world into which the child is born is already structured and ordered according to the dominant culture. Thus he says that the subject is not autonomous or “natural” or innate. Now let us turn to Jacques Lacan (1901–1981). Thus he opposes the Enlightenment idea that a child is born into an unaffected and “natural” world which he then perceives according to the rationalities of his conscious mind. She tries to compensate for this through giving birth to a child. According to him. and uninhibited autonomous self or consciousness. decentred the “self” by theorizing that it is fundamentally divided. the French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist whose works can be considered as a bridge between Freudian and postmodern psychoanalysis. Freud‟s notoriety in the postmodern world is largely due to these “anti-feminist” ideas about the female subjectivity.” He rejected the idea that language was the means . He says that the subject is the result of an intersection of its set of dominant familial and social relations. the female child also suffers from a variety of the Oedipus complex: she notices hr lack of a penis and thinks that she is already castrated. This is famously known as the Oedipal model.behaviours or gestures. autonomous identity. fully self-aware. Here id is supposed to be entirely unconscious while the other two can have conscious. These differentiations lead to the rejection of the idea that the subject is centrally controlled and defined by a single. Freud. The subconscious is the layer that resides between the conscious and the unconscious. in essence. Lacan‟s most famous interpretation is that “the unconscious is structured like a language. single.) and their sexual identifications. The other thing he says is that the primary contributing elements to the production of subjectivity are the gender roles the child sees around himself (not herself because Freud concentrates on masculinity and the development of the male child. ego and superego. Freud divides the self into three parts: id. It is beyond the control of our conscious mind.
including itself. occurring between six to eighteen months of the child‟s age occurs when the child sees her/himself in the mirror (could be an actual mirror or could be seeing another child). This is the Freudian pre-Oedipal stage when there is no subjectivity. Lacan argues that language pre-dates our existence and it is us who must locate ourselves in the field of language if we are to find a place for ourselves in the human world. This stage. Lacan says that our fantasy about an autonomous and self-generating subject (the .” According to Lacan. its unity. Before that it has no concept of “self” as a separate entity.of communication and instead said that it (language) is the very material of which subjectivity is built.is sensed as a continuum of a limitless being. He reverses the assumption that language arises out of and for our purposes. But this new understanding of the self has ironically come from the outside through some external image. Thus subjectivity is developed as the wholeness of the self is negatively-defined as an anti-thesis to the concept of otherness or external forms/beings/things. Thus subjectivity has to emerge in a world where language is a pre-existing structure or system (as opposed to the unaffected and unencumbered world of the Enlightenment child). But they vary at one basic point: Freud says the subject is determined by anatomy (“Anatomy is Destiny”). Both Freud and Lacan have reached this same conclusion. Lacan calls the stage of development of subjectivity in a child. the subject only exists as a tension between the imaginary and the symbolic. There is nothing external to the body since there is no sense of limit. Thus the subject does not define itself but is defined by some “other”. He himself tried to use language in a very self-conscious manner. the “mirror stage”. Lacan beautifully put it by saying that “the subject is the discourse of the other. It is only after or during the mirror stage that child identifies spatially and goes from having a fragmented body-image to a form of its wholeness. Everything that it touches. Thus subjectivity cannot be autonomous or spontaneous. but in Lacanian thought this gender inequity and power struggle take place in the premise of language rather than anatomy.
This is something that Lacan also said. He was definitely an antiessentialist theorist. But Foucault deviates from Lacan by saying that subjectivity is a factor of the power structure omnipresent in society. gestures. It is through this constitution of individuals that power expresses itself. yet which will always remain elusive to us. he argues that power is the cause for which certain bodies.” Instead. Foucault seeks to differ with the Enlightenment (Rousseau‟s) idea of self-sufficiency and a true self that can be recovered if the inauthenticity of day-to-day social life is banished and man lives through pure and correct language structure.imaginary) acts as a shield from reality: a safe place which our deepest desire drives us to reach. gestures and language we use) is the way it is. a primitive atom. Foucault differs from the psychoanalytic understanding of power in that he dislikes the latter‟s attempt to define the „true‟ nature of the subject completely and finally. culture and tradition. Foucault accuses Rousseau‟s model of . He thinks that this is a totalitarian approach which ultimately collaborates with power. desires. Foucault refused to accept the idea of anything natural or spontaneous: something that is the essence of human nature beyond history. and in so doing subdues or crushes individuals. but I have some arguments against that.” We can now see that Rousseau says that the unencumbered individual (which produces itself) comes first and then power pollutes and corrupts it whereas Foucault maintains that power comes first and power is the reason our “individuality” (the individual body. Michel Foucault is the next thinker we must turn to. instead of being a factor of the gender and sexuality roles of family relationships. as we have seen. discourses are identified as individuals. His pronounced that the subject is a construct. a multiple and inert material on which power comes to fasten or against which it happens to strike. He is popularly regarded as an antiEnlightenment thinker. “The individual which power has constituted is at the same time its vehicle. social group or personal style. Foucault writes the exact opposite of this idea: “The individual is not to be conceived as a sort of elementary nucleus.
being responsible for the ability of power to conceal itself and thus work more effectively than ever. Kant and Hegel maintained that attaining self-consciousness was the highest goal and destiny of human existence. It is permanently on display for psychological or sociological analysis and the “truths” these analyses bring out subjugate the individuals. hospitals. It is not his own desires and truths and consciousness that he is seeking. Foucault did not completely reject every aspect of Enlightenment thought. man is basically falling prey to the existing power structures which want him to be forever aware of its desires. irrespective of whether we commit a crime or not. barracks. As a result. Only by becoming conscious of this can the people aim to manufacture an alternative (albeit as a fancy) to the . schools and factories rather than through royalty or aristocracy. we are subordinates to the psychological and sociological theories about crime and the criminal. The criminal is a subject of whose evidence we look for in ourselves. Foucault challenges this notion. but the power structure‟s. the individual‟s interior life is no more his own. Now to come back to what I mentioned in the first paragraph. This is because the subject being a result of power cannot think freely. Modern power structures are constructed through institutions of prisons. he wrote an essay called “What is Enlightenment?” (obviously drawing upon Kant‟s famous article) In this piece. to be brought to public attention at his own discretion. Foucault was heavily influenced by German philosopher Nietzsche and especially his theory that the subject is formed through a cross between power and language. For instance. Foucault thinks that modern society has its own power structures which are different from those of pre-modern societies‟. He says that by turning on himself to achieve self-consciousness and the unique truth of the self. he proposes that there is only one way the subject can deal with his situation in the modern world: this is by becoming conscious of the “self” that power constructs for them. These are built for the better management of the public by the power. In his later life.
Benjamin discusses a change in perceptions (in the modes of existence of humans) and its influences on the advancing fields of photography and other visual media that have happened in the twentieth century. Foucault‟s idea of self-creation is that the subject should produce itself endlessly as a reaction to is culture. Foucault and Lacan respond to and present alternative ideas of the Enlightenment concepts of selfhood. Benjamin thinks that there has been “a loss of aura” because works of art began to be reproduced mechanically. By this . tradition and history. Discuss. Our point of view and outlook on the modes of visual representations have changed entirely over time and its consequences remain to be seen. d) William Mazzarella engages with Walter Benjamin’s work to critique the “totalization narrative” of commodification and to outline a different way of understanding the phenomenon of advertising and globalization. Answer: First let us look at Walter Benjamin‟s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” because this is the work that Mazzarella critiques in his “Shoveling Smoke”. These are the ways in which Freud. Benjamin here tries to find out the effect that modernity has had on the work of art. In this essay. Technological modernity has brought about film and photography. totalized perception. This “aura” is defined by the author as the uniqueness of non-replicable piece of art.conventions modern life try to normalise. One of the questions asked here is whether there can be a universal.
But in its absence. guided by the cameraman for example.e. What the eyes of the camera or the point of view of the cameraman does. the cameraman interferes with the way the spectator perceives an image. Instead. This is the reason why mass consumption prospers at the loss of aura. But what replaces this void left by the aura that is no more? How do mechanical reproductions of the work of art manage to fill up this nullity? The author suggests that a tension occurs because of this friction between the new and old modes of creation.definition. The „original‟ loses its mystic as anyone can buy a ticket to a gallery or a theatre. For instance. This is because the photographer dictates where to look and what to look for. The contradiction of the physical inertia of rest . man consumes the object and vice-versa. The aura as Benjamin puts it. This makes way for a different appreciation of art but also for new kinds of distraction. i. can never be achieved by a painter through his painting. a photograph cannot have the aura that a painting has because the painting is authentic whereas a photograph is the visual replica of another image. This loss also creates a space for politicizing art. With respect to mass consumption. this liberation achieved through the loss of authority is not necessarily conditional. Benjamin suggests that the way people consider a screening and even the character of the film have changed so drastically that the audience doesn‟t individually perceive the film. So it is totalitarian in this respect. this loss of the aura is equivalent to the loss of a mark of singular authority. now has to move to mythological spaces which can only be recovered by a genius. Benjamin then talks about the significance of this loss of aura. The aura ensured a distance between a particular work of art and man. For him. It guides the viewers to a specific side of a story while leaving other sides out. the film perceives the individuals. it gives us the scope to raise questions about the politics of the mechanical reproduction of art and whether that is good or bad.
Mazzarella‟s explanation of the commodity image is partially written as a vociferous critique against the „totalization narrative‟ which is equally present in marketing theory. and structuralist literature. This work by Mazzarella constitutes an exciting examination of globalised consumerism within the framework of the Bombay advertising industry. The concept of subjectivity also changes in the new technologically modern age and the author looks into that matter as well. Branding can be said to be the annexe of corporate command over the potential of this „aura‟ and is thus reminiscent of the old anthropological connotation of gift („keeping-while-giving‟) as . shifts the entire perspective of the audience. Benjamin wonders what happens to the aesthetics of art in the absence of its aura. Because of the reproducible nature of the film. He also writes about the role played by consumerism and advertising in the production of a local Indian identity. Mazzarella instead emphasizes on their firm involvement with public culture and locates a continuous oscillation between influence and emotion. the audience‟s subordination to it increases.while watching the moving image‟s inertia of motion. mostly from the time of the Indian independence movement. According to Benjamin. In Shoveling Smoke. The author focuses on the negotiation between the global and the local. This work casts light on the intricate relationship between culture and consumerism. Marxist. This narrative considers „the subsumption of concrete particulars to abstract universals‟ to be a pre-condition of both commodification and the mechanical reproduction of images (commodity image or otherwise). William Mazzarella looks to critique the “teleological totalization narrative” that is a dominant discourse on “photographically mediated modernities”. this is but a symbol of something horrible happening. As an alternative explanation. or between desire to own the commodity and the brand image enclosed within the „aura‟ of the image.
” Thus according to Benjamin. This dialectic makes it possible for Benjamin to advance towards expressing his thoughts on photography in a Post-Marxist historical materialism strain. For Benjamin. photography acts as a de-auratizing agent that begets closeness by abolishing distance. Totalization narrative is a narrative which talks about a world where everything is included within the umbrella of a single history without any exceptions or deviations. he also implicates photographs in the manufacture and preservation of the auratic distance. Benjamin proposes that attributing „aura‟ to image-objects means projecting the assumptions of social reciprocity onto the relationship between people and these imageobjects. The diminishing distance between people and art that . But ambivalently. Mazzarella engages with Benjamin‟s work and critiques such a totalizing narrative. (Social reciprocity model basically says that positive action by a person towards another person reaps rewards in reciprocal positive action and vice-versa in case of negative action. This distance occurs due to the mystification of the authentic image and the boundaries of exclusivity it constructs around itself. serve very reactionary purposes through their concretion and depending on the image and the way in which it is used. “to perceive the aura of the object we look at means to invest it with the ability to look at us in return.) To quote Benjamin.companies and agencies try to increase the scope of consumerism while at the same time fighting to preserve general ideological control. He also responds to Benjamin‟s work on photography and opines that Benjamin “comes closest to a dialectical reading of the photographic image in the sense” that Mazzarella suggests. au contraire our habitual hypotheses. aura both heightens distance and produces conditions of social reciprocity and the advent of photography only increases this contradiction. It is even inclusive of all forms of otherness. Benjamin talks about the way in which certain images may. According to Benjamin the most important part the „aura‟ plays is through the distance it maintains.
first I‟ll briefly talk about the inclusion of cricket in Indian popular culture and the wider social implications of cricket in India. Mazzarella admits that the part of Benjamin‟s argument that mostly inspires him is his conclusion that the dialectic of aura holds true for all the domain of visual representation. The inclusion of cricket in Indian pop culture is surprising to say the least. Section II Indian Premier League: The Culture and Politics of Cricket in India Introduction: The most commonly understood concept about modern India is that it runs on the three C‟s: Cricket. then I‟ll refer . according to Mazzarella depends on an incessant movement between reactionary mythologies and daily-life possibilities. Advertising.photography brought about was coupled with the “defamiliarization” of the everyday world of instrumental purpose and objective knowledge. In this essay. The most recent and conclusive stamp of mass culture on cricket (if it needed any further certification) is the annual cricket event that is being held in India since 2008: the Indian Premier League (IPL). This dialectic oscillation of shock and domestication is an essential feature of the transmission of commodity-images. including advertising (commodity images). these two opposite points are not one entity but they remain entangled with each other in an unsteady and uncomfortable companionship. In contradiction to the totalization narrative. Thus William Mazzarella engages with Walter Benjamin to critique the totalization narrative and offers an alternative concept of the globalized advertising industry. Cinema and Corruption.
India is now acknowledged as the “new home of cricket”. the values.at least on the surface of it. crude bats are hacked out of tree branches and stack of bricks used as wickets with a tennis or even a table-tennis ball serving as the cricket equivalent). Inclusion and the Place of cricket in modern Indian popular culture: The classical construct of cricket can be easily identified by some markers: the “stiff upper lip” attitude. If we want to look at the history of any sport. prejudices. These markers in fact signify prototypical “Englishness” and used to stand for the British Empire and for abiding by the laws. a sphere of activity which expresses. we‟ll find that there are two major approaches to it: 1. in concentrated form. even if one considered the law-makers to be dictatorial or stupid. that “everyone” can afford the expensive cricket kits. lastly. it has now been completely absorbed by all sections of the society (provided. To concentrate only “on its practice.” (Guha. Ashish Nandy famously said that cricket is “an Indian game accidentally discovered by the British. Cricket has now lost its initial class implications and has become. divisions and unifying symbols of a . of course.accessible to all classes in spite of the obvious middle-class dominance. 1998) 2. the evolution of its associations and tournaments.” Instead of the upper and upper middle class exclusivity of the game. This construct is invalid now because cricket and its societies have undergone vast changes. I‟ll conclude with my opinion on the effect of IPL on Indian society and culture. the obedience and reverence accorded to the “high priest” of the game in a long white coat and an abstruse set of laws nobody can follow. To view sport as “a rational idiom. the background of its patron and players.to Adorno and Horkheimer‟s essay on “culture industry” to critique the event of IPL. and on how it pays or does not pay for itself. the placid and polite hand-clapping. but even where they cannot.
an Indian Muslim has to support the Indian national cricket team over Pakistan as a proof of his loyalty and allegiance to the nation.society. otherwise (s)he will be taken as an anti-nationalist. Apart from the class-based osmosis of cricket. it was initially confined only to the British. different religious groups (starting with the Parsees and spreading to the Hindus and Muslims through political and royal indulgence) started playing the sport and in a process of cultural osmosis. For example.” (Guha. subaltern groups grew into and excelled at the sport and it eventually became a symbol of challenge as victorious colonial cricketers could claim a share of the values that the British claimed were inculcated by cricket. 1998) It also argues for situating sports in its wider societal context and only then proceeding to analyse it.” (Scalmer. caste and gender-based biases are predominant . Slowly. It would suffice here to say that the lower castes acquired access to this game in India through a long history of struggle covering the early twentieth century. when the sport was first played in India. in cricket as in all other spheres in India. Today. the caste-history is also very interesting. Then it slowly spread through the Indian princes because it gave them social hierarchical power as playing cricket was a sign of the elite and the ruling classes and also because they could get closer to the British by participating in the sport. The popularity of cricket went on increasing until when it became a mode of expression of subaltern mobilisation and cultural pride. Under their patronage. it went on being absorbed by the subsequent lower classes. “Beating the imperial ruler on the field therefore buttressed claims to equal worth off it. class. In colonial India. 2007) Slowly cricket became a vehicle of articulating nationalism. Initially it was imposed by the colonisers on the colonised as a measure of the masters‟ imperial power. The Bombay Quadrangular Tournament played a big part in and played host to a lot of drama regarding these. Supporting the national team has been historically seen as a unifying factor for a nation divided over individual and group identities.
dissolution of pre-capitalism. Critique of the IPL.but it is undeniable the sport has come a long way with regard to these minority-based exclusions. Housing structure in a city is very close (not to mention multi-storied apartments) and this results in the loss of individual culture. Thus. and an increase in technology leading to social differentiation are the reasons behind causing cultural chaos. The cities are converging towards the city centres irrespective of how poorly they are made in the rush. the number of matches goes on increasing even though public attention is falling (slightly). for every IPL. tradition and identity. people will watch it. The logic behind this is that if there is a match on in the television. The metropolis and its structure ensure that the individuals are completely dictated by and subject to capitalistic power. They argue for the uniformity of culture. The system of culture functions as a corporation of artists and politicians across every kind of government in all countries. The films which represent our culture are but business enterprises behind pretence of art. It also echoes Say‟s law in economics which state that “supply creates its own demand”. It is a copybook case of being a product of the culture industry. To start with analysing it. Adorno and Horkheimer also state that the people controlling the economy . The “culture industry” is defined as a way of mass reproduction of goods to meet similar mass demands but the catch is that the standards are fixed by “manipulation and retroactive need” instead of the consumers‟ actual demands. in Reference to Adorno and Horkheimer’s “Public Culture”: The IPL has played a huge role in changing the currency of Indian domestic cricket and it has also played a key part in changing the cultural politics of cricket (both playing and viewership) in India. They begin by challenging the sociological theory that loss of support of religion. let us look at what Adorno and Horkheimer say in their seminal essay „The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception‟.
as the authors put it. Automatic responses of the audience are stifled and substituted by mechanical and mass-produced artificial emotions which are dictated according to the terms of the people in power. The auctioning process of the cricketers show that nobody is indispensable and often false hype is created around certain players. While these accusations might be correct. thus there is no way one can avoid looking at an IPL advertisement (print or electronic) if one is to participate in the public sphere. Thus the audience is tricked into thinking that they are an integral part of the whole procedure when they are not effective and active members of the whole IPL culture.possess technological hegemony as well. even in the IPL this is done through using the cheerleaders and the announcers at the stadium. The culture industry leaves the customer dispensable because one customer can be replaced by another (a television viewership can be immediately replaced by another and a stadium seat for an IPL match can be sold to another person instead of the one). The culture industry. The England Cricket Board (ECB) which has refused to let its contract-bound players participate in the IPL if it clashes with their domestic or international schedule is regularly denounced as elitist and backward. freedom-less subject. the grounds for making them are not. leaves no space for imagination or even spontaneity. The use of technology helps to create “standardisation and mass production” and it gradually turns the consumer from an active participant to a passive. whose cricketing prowess can be called into question. The only method to break out of this factory line is to be a deviant . Like in a tele-serial or movie where the audiences are given cues to laugh or cry or feel angry or amused or romantic by the background music. so as to benefit the people in power. Even the cricketers who are at least thought to be very active parts of the whole tournament are replaceable commodities. Modern culture is responsible for forming the economic area where art is produced. every free expression is taken as a protest against the institution. In the culture industry.
But it would be very wrong to say that . The blend of non-cricketing elements with the cricketing ones in IPL has attracted new viewers. But the short format of the IPL has leaped over this hurdle. The industry only represses everything and everybody into a systematic idolization of the “whole”. It is also touted as a form of distractive entertainment to make people “forget” the grinds of daily life and immerse themselves into the glamorous world of the IPL. Even the people in power are walled off inside their own systems. The more people get insights into the glamour world. The people subjected to the dominion of the culture industry are made to think that they are free to think and choose for themselves.from the norm so as to be noticed by the industry (and may be subsequently pulled back into the system).” In case of the IPL. A very important point that Adorno and Horkheimer makes here is that the upper class capitalists maintain their power and control by making the lower classes “insist on the very ideology which enslaves them. the lower class people are being made to believe that the tournament is doing wonders to the economy of the country and is helping it to earn a lot of revenues. The process and industry of culture feeds on itself. but they don‟t realise that the choices are already made for them because their limited options are the ones provided by this same industry. Conclusion: The IPL has brought about a significant change in that it has expanded cricket viewership beyond the traditionally male-dominated structures. But the „promise‟ of the culture industry is a mirage created by people in positions of power. The economically insecure could never have so much time for leisure. One reason why cricket was considered as the game of the upper classes is the huge amount of time one game takes for completion. thus ultimately helping their economy. the more people want it because that is the way they satiate their own voyeuristic nature and unfulfilled desires.
"Cricket. 3. Guha. Muneeb Ansari.4 (2007). Scalmer.edu/1519536/The_Bombay_Quadrangular_Cricket_as_a_Politic al_Forum_in_India . 2.academia. metropolitan. "Cricket and Politics in Colonial India. In fact it is doing the exact opposite. bourgeoisie. Ramachandra. Cashman. 4. capitalistic.New Delhi: Orient Longman. exclusive and yet mechanical nature of this tournament is against everything signifying equality. and the Crowd: the Phenomenon of Indian Cricket. REFERENCES: 1." Past & Present 1998." Working USA 10. 1979. Sean. Patrons.161 (1998):15590. Imperialism And Class Domination. Retrieved from the following link: http://www. Richard I. The IPL has contributed hugely to make cricket a less egalitarian space than even before. Players. The Bombay Quadrangular: Cricket as a Political Forum. The very urban.IPL is bridging socio-economic or gender-based gaps.