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2015 | 16(1) | 106-121

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THE SOCIAL METAPHOR OF THE HUMAN BODY:The Spectacle As a Tool of Alienation. The Situationists and Their Heritage

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In the Marxist tradition social relations mediated by the market are the source of alienation.Alienated individuals are deprived of their subjectivity, they become a passive instrumentof capital. For Marx, the principal instrument of alienation was commodifiedwork, while for post-Marxist thinkers like the Frankfurt School – it was also consumption.The Situationists go further – according to them the whole social reality is alienated. Under capitalism it changes into spectacle. The spectacle imposes artificial, reified socialrelations, inhibits all creativity and spontaneity, and deprives individuals of the ability toactively shape reality, thus stripping people of the fundamental aspects of humanity.The paper discusses the category of spectacle coined by the Situationists. It indicatesthe possibilities of its application to the analysis of a contemporary culture dominated byconsumption and based on images. Situationist concepts and their interpreters are alsopresent in reflection on the problem of the relationship between alienation and communicativetechnologies. The issue of disalienating (emancipating) potential of forms of communicationdeveloped in the networked society and their impact on consumer empowermentis widely discussed nowadays. The ideas developed by the Situationists and theirheirs, presented in the paper, may be useful for its analysis.






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