BURKE, P. (1992): WE, THE PEOPLE: POPULAR CULTURE AND POPULAR IDENTITY IN MODERN EUROPE

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

In ‘We, the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe’ Peter Burke examines the uses of various kinds of popular culture in defining popular identity. He tries to ensure that popular culture is not left out the story of construction and reconstruction of popular identity. In this context, he uses the term identity as something plural and included a sense of membership in a city, a nation, a region and a class. Thus, he discusses the very notion of ‘the people’ as an important form of collective identity in post-medieval Europe and examines two concept of this collective identity: the inclusive and the exclusive. First of them linked with the right-wing politics and defines ‘the people’ as a term including everyone in a particular nation or a city as opposed to other people. The second associated with the left-wing politics and defines ‘the people’ as the members of subordinate as opposed to the ruling class (Burke, 1992). Taking Burke’s perspective of the cultural construction of identity into account, in this essay I shall try to define the very concept of identity through placing particular emphasis on the culture.  In the following analysis it will be shown how collective identities have been formed or reformed and ‘identities of resistance’ has started to appear. Further, I shall discuss the rise of ‘class consciousness’ among the subordinate classes.

According to Burke, in many parts of Europe, ordinary people were always invited to identify themselves as members of a class and as members of nation at the same time. But the important question is whether these invitations received a response as expected or not. Initially it might be argued that the task of identity building is by no means easy. For instance, when we look at the politics of European Integration, the years of 1990s can be defined as a ‘cultural term’ regarding European Union elites’ attempts to invent Europe through the medium of ‘culture’. Even though European Union was traditionally defined as a common market dissolving the barriers to free movement of goods, capitals, services and labor, European Union has always harbored a deeper vision of cultural construction of Europe and the issue of Europe’s identity has become important isssue since it has being seen as parallel development to the construction of European Union. In 1992, Maastricht Treaty, for example, created the category of European citizenship and it gave the European Commission legal right to promote integration in the sphere of culture through enhancing what it saw as ‘the European identity’. Thus, European Commission has defined a European identity which is harmoniously integrated with other identities such as local, regional, ethnic, religious and it has argued that people can have multiple identities. Therefore, the creation of identity or identities discussion yields an obvious question whether these identities are in fact antagonistic or compatible. Just like the Commission has defined, Burke has defined the term ‘identity’ as in essence plural but he has also argued, ‘the same individual or group may privilege one identity over another according to the situation and the moment.’ (Burke, 1992). Thus, I might argue, the possibility of conflict between different multiple identities is out of question in Burke’s work and in European Union case and a sort of apolitical conception of identity has been defined and it has been grounded consensus model of society.

Another important issue is that of ‘identities of resistance’ which is defined by Burke in his work “We, the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe”. Throughout the world, as Burke puts it, collective identities have been formed or reformed and ‘identities of resistance’ has started to appear. From Burke’s perspective, whilst the inclusive concept of the people was associated with the acceptance of these changes, the exclusive concept of the people associated with the resistance to attempts by other people to change their very own culture and the way of life.  While Burke gives particular attention to identity of resistance is that of ‘the people’ in the exclusive sense, more exactly, the subordinate people as opposed to the ruling class, we can also give an example of identity of resistance from European Union in the inclusive sense. In this context, the rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty by referendum in France and Netherlands in 2005, the strong “Non” and “Nee” of the French and Dutch voters were not only a simple vote on the content of the constitutional text but rather they indicates a sense of resistance to top-down regulations, rules and most importantly identities that are constructed exclusively above by European Union elites (Wind, 2001). Thus, an antagonistic relationship with the state is being rejected at the European Union level.

As stated before, in “We, the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe” Burke gives particular attention to the spread of the idea of the people more exactly among the subordinate classes. Thus he has defined identity of resistance is that of ‘the people’ in the exclusive sense, the subordinate people as opposed to the ruling class in particular. The ruling class has been using the term ‘the people’ to refer the rest of the population by defining them as ignorant, disorderly and so on. The problem, for Burke, was to discover when and where this rest of population identified themselves as ‘the people’ or the working class. Much has been written and discussed on the rise of ‘class consciousness’ but Burke defined it from somehow different perspective. He has argued, ‘Ordinary people seem to have become aware of resisting what they regarded as attempts by the privileged classes to take this culture from them.’ (Burke, 1992)

All in all, in this essay, I have tried to analysis the work of Peter Burke, ‘We, the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe’. In this respect, I have pointed out the cultural construction of identity and the culture. My examples were mostly from European Union and its history.

 

Bibliography

BURKE, P. (1992), ‘We, the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe’, in Lash and Friedman (eds.), Modernity and Identity, Oxford: Blackwell.

SHORE, C. (2000) Building European Union: The Cultural Politics of European Integration, London, Routledge, pp.15-65

WIND, M. (2001). The Commission White Paper: Bridging the Gap between the Governed and the Governing? Academy of European Law.

 

IS THERE A LIFE AFTER BREXIT?

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle EastTechnical University

 

Following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union in a crucial referendum, the relationship between the EU and Balkan countries came into discussions. Although the referendum seems like territorial, it has led disastrous impacts across the globe. While Balkan countries affirmed their commitment to European integration, concerns raised over the uncertain future of the EU following Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

Serbia applied for EU membership in December 2009 and Serbia’s progress on the EU path was conditioned on dialogue with Kosovo. In this sense, the EU- facilitated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade made significant progress in order to normalize relations in the process of Serbia’s accession to the European Union. But Serbia does not intend to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Thus, the European Council agreed to grant Serbia the status of candidate country on March 2012 and accession negotiations at a political level between Serbia and the EU started in January 2014. Chapter 35, on “Other Issues”, which in Serbia’s case, refers to Kosovo is deemed crucial for Serbia’s path to EU membership. Nevertheless, it must be noted that Serbia does not necessarily need to recognize Kosovo as an independent country in order to become a member since a number of member countries including Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Romania have not recognized Kosovo as an independent country as well.

Duck protests

Besides, corruption in Serbia is one of the most important issues affecting the accession of Serbia to the European Union. On the night of April 25, for instance, a group of masked 30 men knocked down multiple buildings in the Savamala district’s Hercegovacka Street that stood in the way of Belgrade Waterfront. Since Savamala district overlaps the area under development, the overnight demolition by masked men lead concerns in the mind of citizens. Belgrade Waterfront (Beodrad na vodi) is a project for which is worth more than €3bn and features a gleaming tower surrounded by luxury apartments, hotels and a shopping centre on the banks of the river.  Thousands of Serbs joined a fresh protest over the Belgrade Waterfront development, one month after an unexplained incident in which the masked men demolished buildings in the riverside area where the state-backed project is to be built. The word duck which means ‘fraud’ in Serbian, became a powerful symbol of resistance to the controversial Belgrade Waterfront project. At a press conference, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that the highest city officials gave the order, but he is sure they did it out of pure motives.

In the 2015 edition of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index which measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide since 1995, Serbia scored under 50 and was ranked 71st of 168 countries. Thus Serbia have stayed under the score received in 2014 and continued its negative position.

In fact, corruption is recognized as a serious crime in the EU, the member states are expected to ensure respect for justice, judiciary and fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the acquis and by the Charter 23 and 24. In this sense, the European Union encourages candidate and potential candidate countries to tackle corruption and to increase transparency early in the accession process. Nevertheless, Serbia have not opened Chapter 23 and 24 in its EU membership talks and has led to the extension of the negotiation process.

Serbia will remain on EU path

While Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that there will not be a referendum call in Serbia, secretary of foreign affairs Ivica Dacic confirmed their commitment to European integration and said that Serbia will continue on its EU path.

According to prime banks, Serbia has less to lose from Brexit than its neighbors now that it has more relationships, especially on economics, with the countries such as Austria and Germany than Britain. Even though, in short terms, Serbia or more generally the European Union will not be effected from Britain’s vote to leave the EU, it is too early to talk about long-term effects of referendum. Moreover, while European integration has a great importance for all the member countries, it is surely a mistake to think Brexit as something positive for Serbia.

Having played an important role in regional integration with its supranational structure, EU unfortunately suffered a significant loss of credibility with Brexit. Following Britain’s referendum decision, possible referendum proposals ​​by other member countries came to the agenda. It can also be said that in case of recognition of any privilege to the United Kingdom, other members can be requested privileges as well. From the economic perspective, 19 billion pounds of payment of Britain to the EU every year is also at risk. Under these circumstances, Britain’s referendum decision cannot be evaluated as a positive development both for candidate and potential candidate countries.

Russia can expand its sphere of influence on Balkans

Located on the EU’s enlargement calendar, the six Balkan states – Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania – are at different stages in the enlargement process and there are concerns over their ongoing negations with the EU following Brexit vote.

Even though the countries affirmed their commitment to European integration and expressed to remain on EU path, we must also take into account the other global players such as Russia. Since Britain voted to leave from the EU, Russia more likely to expand its sphere of influence on Balkans and fill the vacuum. Some of the underlying causes of such influence can be specified as uncertainty in the region after Brexit, Russia’s relations with the Balkan countries, the lack of stability in the region, and the corruption of politicians. Aiming to develop good relations and deepen economic cooperation among the Balkan countries, the EU was playing an important role in the region. When viewed from this aspects, it is possible to talk about the negative effects of Brexit for the Balkan countries.

As a result, Balkan countries voiced their commitment to the European Union following Britain’s decision to leave the EU. Nevertheless, we are at the beginning of the process yet and everything is unknown. Although Balkan countries are not directly affected in the short-term, Britain’s decision to leave the EU is likely to cause difficulties for the Balkan countries in the EU accession process. In the coming years, indeed, the EU will have to devote enormous energy in order to solve its own internal crisis. In the medium to long-term results of Brexit is still difficult to predict because such an exit from the EU had not experienced before and everything is unclear yet. Under these circumstances, the Balkan countries should maintain the current relationship with the EU and continue the negotiating agenda through opening of new chapters. Briefly Brexit should never be an excuse.

 

 

 

 

MASS CULTURE

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

The very notion of mass culture has always been the target of a comprehensive attack by various scholars. Nietzsche, for example, was one of the first to develop philosophical critique of mass culture. He saw mass culture as distinctive feature of modern society and central to modern social production process (Kellner, 1999). Believing that culture is central to human life, Nietzsche himself wanted to provide a new, life-affirming culture in order to create superior individuals. Further, he described modern mass culture as barbaric which creates herd societies and mediocrity. For him, only through rising above this barbarian mass culture, society would produce healthier and superior human beings. Just like Nietzsche, Jose Ortega y Gasset made a critique of mass culture in his book: The Revolt of the Masses (1929).  His message in general echoes that of Nietzsche and similarly held a pessimistic view upon culture and modern society. The threat, for Ortega, was overcrowded masses those recognize its own collective strength and enforce democracy. He basically believed that a state which is run by this overcrowded population, the mass, can be seen as a machine that would crush the individual as well as the value of intellect in the world.

Similarly, the Frankfurt School theorists analyzed the effects of mass culture, consumer society and the ‘culture industries’ in the twentieth century. They also developed a critique of expanding roles of mass media and communication upon culture, politics, social life as well as the socialization of the subjects. One of the most significant early intellectual work of the Frankfurt School was marked by Horkheimer with the publication of ‘Studies on Authority and Family: Research Reports from the Institute for Social Research’ (1936).  In the twentieth century modern societies, for Horkheimer, the family as the most basic institution of socialization has started to disintegrate since the development of capitalism. Horkheimer observed the very effects of father-authority in family. Drawing on example given by Frederic Le Play on the declining influence of paternal authority, Horkheimer pointed out authoritarian tendency of patriarchal-oriented families and decline in the authority of father as a result of ‘disintegration of family life’ (Miller, 2011). Actually it was quite common to make analysis on the disintegration of family on the 1930s so Marx also analyzed the role of family. But, unlike Frankfurt School, Marx saw the family as a tool of the ruling class, the best mechanism for getting people to think and behave in a way the ruling class want them in order to capitalism to survive. For Marxists, family is a place of unequal relations of power between father, mother and the children, and a place of conflict just like the societies where inequalities exist. But as a result of development of capitalism these relations between members of the family disintegrated, more exactly father has lost its power over the mother and the children. So this is actually seen as something positive for Marxists. Frankfurt School, otherwise, saw this disintegration of patriarchal authority through disintegration of families negatively. Indeed the development of capitalism has caused to disintegration the function of families that of teaching its members to submit to authority of ruling class but now this function of family has given to someone else: the culture industry. While the experts of the mass communications run the function of socialization instead of the family, the false consciousness of the modern human has been created. Thus passive human beings who have believed there is nothing they can do against the problems of the world have been created by the culture industry. In holidays, for example, we read the bestseller novels and in the weekends we go to a concert in order to escape from the null relations of our daily life in our contemporary environment. But the problem is that all these activities we do with our very own ‘taste of choice’ actually provide more connection to the culture industry since they are under the control of culture industry. Hence people do all these leisure and entertainment activities in order to escape because they do not have the control of their very own life so the only thing they do is that of escaping from responsibilities. And this escape has created more and more antagonism and control by the capitalism.

Lastly, in their work of 1944, ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’ from the book of Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno and Horkheimer pointed out the concept of standardization by arguing ‘Under monopoly all mass culture is identical, and the lines of its artificial framework begin to show through.’ Since the culture industry aims to reach as many people as possible, it creates no more than standardization and mass production. Even the works of art has been forced into a sort of standardization and uniformity and they became a commodity which is precisely industrialized with the notion of culture. The songs of Nick Cave, for example, are mostly written with the average length of three minutes. Indeed, this does not basically means that Nick Cave is an untalented song writer and he can merely write three minutes short songs but rather this is only because production of the art works are made under the same fixed formula and the creativity of the artist is no more important. As Adorno stated, art appeared as commodities just like other mass-produced items and it lost its emancipatory power as a transcendent object (Kellner, 1989). Therefore, just like Kant’s concept of ‘purposefulness without purpose’, the culture industry has no purpose while serving a purpose, art became an art without a purpose which is connected into the purposes of the market.

 

Bibliography

Adorno, T. & Horkheimer, M. (1979), “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”, in Dialectic of Enlightenment, London: Verso.

Kellner, D. (1989) Critical Theory, Marxism and Modernity (Baltimore: JHU Press). Retrieved from: https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/essays/criticaltheory.pdf

Kellner, D. (1999). Nietzsche’s Critique of Mass Culture. International Studies in Philosophy, 31(3), 77-89. Retrieved from: https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/Illumina%20Folder/kell22.htm

Miller, B. (2011). Frankfurt School, 1936, studies on authority (1): Max Horkheimer on authority and family. Retrieved from: http://oldhickorysweblog.blogspot.com.tr/2011/02/frankfurt-school-1936-studies-on_22.html

Ortega y Gasset, J. (1929). The Revolt of the Masses. W. Norton & Company.

JAMESON, F. (1992): REIFICATION AND UTOPIA IN MASS CULTURE

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

Generally speaking, in ‘Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture’, Frederic Jameson attempts to examine the notions of high and mass culture and to rethink the opposition between these two concepts. He pays particular attention to explain reification and he characterizes the Frankfurt School as the extension and application of Marxist theories of commodity reification to the works of mass culture. Whilst he considers the Frankfurt School’s analysis of the commodity structure of mass/high culture of the greatest interest, he proposes a somewhat different way of looking at the same phenomena. In this context, Jameson does not simply contemplate criticizing the analysis of the Frankfurt school as being wrong but rather he tries to read high and mass culture as ‘objectively related and dialectically interdependent phenomena, as twin and inseparable forms of fission of aesthetic production under the late capitalism.’ (133)

Since Fredric Jameson is one of the most important followers of Althusser, it is worth recalling Althusser by focusing on the concept of ideology in particular. Briefly, Althusser argues that conditions of the society are not only reproduction of material existence but also reproduction of itself ideologically and he emphases that this reproduction of itself ideologically comes in variety of forms which are different from each other.

Jameson picks up what Althusser left and he further argues, ‘The works of mass culture cannot be ideological without at one and the same time being implicitly or explicitly Utopian as well.’(144). Therefore, Jameson elaborates the idea of a dialectic between ideology and Utopia and his article ‘Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture’ explores this dialectic in terms of popular culture (Fitting, 1998). In order to demonstrate the mechanisms of manipulation, diversion, degradation in mass culture and in the media, Jameson deals with three commercial films: Jaws and the two parts of the Godfather.  By readings of these three films, he interprets the artistic manipulation as a method of mass culture for offering some genuine social and historical content as a fantasy bribe to the public about to be manipulated. According to Jameson, in the case of Jaws[1], the film has a capacity to absorb social and political anxieties and fantasies in a successful harmony by the vocation of a symbol the killer shark.  Similarly, the two parts of the Godfather[2] are more than typical gangster films, they are actually a virtual textbook illustration of how cultural manipulation can establish in a genuine shred of content. Jameson therefore argues that the power of these three films can be measured by their twin capacity to perform an ideological and Utopian fantasy at the same time.

Thus, in a sense, drawing on Althusser, Jameson’s engagement with the very concept of Utopia can be seen as unique and contributing in terms of defining all contemporary works of art whether those of high culture and modernism or of mass culture and commercial culture are not mere of ideological manipulation but also of Utopian dimension. Throughout the article ‘Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture’, he examined utopic dimensions of the films, Jaws and the Godfather, but still there was something he has ignored and never mentioned: ‘emancipatory utopian dimensions’ of the films. In this context, the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch developed a method of cultural criticism which expands conventional Marxian approaches to culture and ideology and provides ideological criticism discerns emancipatory utopian dimensions even in ideological products. For Bloch, since ideologies are rhetorical constructs that try to persuade and to convince, they must have a relatively rational and attractive core and thus often contain emancipatory promises or moments (Kellner, 2010).

Since Jameson points out variety of aspects which are sort of related with each other, another point that comes to mind throughout the article is Jameson’s eclectic way of thinking. Although this eclecticism may cause some concepts to stay not well-explained, most of the concept are further developed by an article or even a book written by Jameson. For example, the concept of artistic manipulation is analyzed very detailed by his work namely Signatures of the Visible which collects eight essays on film.

  

Bibliography

Fitting, P. (1998). The Concept of Utopia in the Work of Fredric Jameson. Utopian Studies, 9(2), 8-17.

Kellner, D. (2010). Ernst Bloch, Utopia and Ideology Critique. Illuminations: The CriticalTheory Project. Retrieved from: https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/Illumina Folder/kell1.htm

Notes

[1] Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel, it centers around the island of Amity, which finds itself terrorized by a killer giant white shark.

[2] The Godfather is 1972 an American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola based upon the novel of Italian American author Mario Puzo and it is mainly about a mafia family in New York.

DIE WELLE

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

Since fascism is a unique term and it is hard to describe one and only type of fascism, many scholars have long debated on definition of fascism. While fascism can be seen as a level of political regime such as Nazism, it can also articulate itself to the different ideologies such as nationalism and conservatism. In addition, fascism can appear as a spontaneous ceremony in language or in daily activities of people. The movie, namely ‘Die Welle’[1], directed by Dennis Gansel, presents an unusual experiment of a high school teacher to teach his students what it is like to live in an autocracy. Apart from being a masterpiece of German cinematography, the movie is important to show how fascist and autocratic aspects can develop in a modern context. Therefore, in this essay, I will try to analyze the movie ‘Die Welle’ and attempt to answer the questions how is the movie relevant to fascism as an ideology and what elements of fascism are detectable in the movie. In this context, my focus will be on general characteristics of fascism that have seen in the movie, particularly, creation of a mass, a state unit as well as a strong leader. Lastly, I will also try to point out some shortcomings of the movie.

Initially, Rainer Wegner as an unorthodox teacher has to teach on autocracy during a school project week. In the first lecture of the project, when Mr. Wegner asks the students whether or not an example of autocracy like ‘The Third Reich’ could ever happen again, all of the students believe that it could not happen. Then, in order to make the school project interesting for his students and to challenge his student’s approach to autocracy, Mr. Wegner performs an unusual experiment to show them an autocracy not only could happen today, but also it could happen to them. At the beginning of the experiment everything seems going well until the students start to take it seriously. The movie ends with a suicide of a student and being arrested of Mr. Wenger by the police and driven away. [2]

One of the aspects of fascism can be seen throughout the movie is, firstly, creation of a mass. Since fascism is not powerful without masses, it hates individuals. While there are many ways to creation of masses, in the movie, we observe creation of mass by logos, slogans, salute, etc. ‘Die Welle’ brings the students together as a group and they start to lose their individuality step by step. For example, they establish their own uniform and start to wear white T-shirts instead of different clothes that present their personal style.

Another important element of the fascism that is detectable in the movie is, indeed, creation a state unit and this state unit can be whether racist or nationalist. However, while fascism talks about creation of a pure race and nation and it excludes the others, ‘Die Welle’ is a kind of inclusive state unit regarding its characteristics. It is open to all without making a differentiation of race, religion, etc. For example, Turkish student Sinan as a member of a marginalized group in society is also welcomed by ‘Die Welle’. Still, although its inclusive characteristics, just like fascism that creates a common enemy and inferior group such Jews, Gypsies, ‘Die Welle’ also describes an enemy: the anarchy class. In one shot of the movie, Mr. Wenger and the students march together in the same rhythm just to annoy their enemy, the anarchy class below them.

Additionally, rationality behind the fascism argues that while the mass has limited capacity, the main function of the leader is to mobilize the mass since the leader has full capacity. The movie portrays the teacher, Rainer Wegner as the leader who enforces the rules required for an autocracy. However, in my opinion, Mr. Wegner is still far from being a strong, charismatic leader who has unlimited authority because it is hard to talk about unquestioned obedience to him by the students. He as a leader just has told some basic rules afterward the students were mostly acting more spontaneously and chaotically rather than following the leader, Mr. Wegner, all the time. Thus, ‘Die Welle’ can be seen as an autocracy that has some anarchist sense.

Overall, the movie presents what autocracy is and how an autocracy could happen even today but I just want to point out that the movie does not say about why it has happened. For example, Karo and Mona as two independent and strong characters gives the audience an oppositional look to ‘Die Welle’ and in one shot of the movie, these two girls distribute booklets around the school to ‘stop the wave’ but what is written in their manifest against to ‘Die Welle’ and why they hate it that much is not explained at all. Thus, instead of mostly focusing on some teenage high school clichés, the movie would better explain and focus on the reasons rather than ending with ‘I told you so’ conclusion. What must be noted that liberal propaganda of the movie is another shortcoming of it. On the other hand, it is obvious that the movie is kind of powerful plea by Dennis Gansel against to autocracy; therefore, the movie has a banal theme ‘Democracy is good, dictatorship is not’.

All in all, despite the movie’s minor shortcomings, ‘Die Welle’ is a creative movie to show that it is still easy to reconstruct an autocracy in anywhere. In this context, the end of the movie is powerful to show how history could happen again and the danger of an autocracy.

 

Notes

[1] ‘The Wave’ in English.

[2] The movie directed by Dennis Gansel has some differences from the original experiment made by American professor Ron Jones. The major difference are related to concerns the violence and the bloody end which is a part of the movie.

RIFF-RAFF

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

Throughout the 1980s, the United Kingdom has challenged by a changing political and economic transformation from state-centered into a neo-liberal form. Neo-liberalism arose with the election of ‘new right’ political leader, Margaret Thatcher in particular. Then neo-liberalism spread in the various parts of the globe especially under the influence of the World Bank, the IMF as well as the European Union. Since the neo-liberalism defined as a set of policies to promote the political economy of capitalism which based on deregulation, privatization, globalization and a laissez-faire economy, Margaret Thatcher in the light of these policies aimed to promote an equality of power and wealth throughout the society in the United Kingdom. Thus, taking Thatcher’s policies into account, in this essay, I will try to analyze the film, namely, Riff-Raff (1991)[1] that is directed by Ken Loach and starring Robert Carlyle and Ricky Tomlinson[2]. Apart from being a best picture award winner film in the 1991 European Film Award, Riff-Raff is important film to show living conditions of Britain’s working class in the Thatcher era. In this context, my focus will be on the consequences of the neo-liberal policies on characters and events of the film, particularly immigration and multicultural policies, the collapse of trade unions and the alienation of the workers. Additionally, I will attempt to point out several shortcomings of the film and finally a conclusion will be made to summarize the key points made in the main part.

Initially, it might be argued, the film ‘Riff Raff’ was written by Bill Jesse who is a former construction worker and it is directed by Ken Loach. It builds a portrait of every day life of workers in a construction site.  Since the construction site which is presented throughout the film is a colorful one with different lives, dreams, and so forth, Robert Carlyle plays Stevie who is a young Scotsman just arrived to London. While all the workers differ one way or another and each have their own stories to tell, e.g., one of them was dreaming to go to Africa, one thing was common at all: the misery. All workers were working under an abusive and unsafe atmosphere where anyone can get injure or even die any time. In addition, wages are so low, living conditions are bad, for example, the construction site was full of rats. Since most of the workers are not able to afford taxes, they use false names, have no bank accounts and get their checks under false names. Sometimes in order to receive their checks, they ask other workers to receive their checks in exchange with money.

In this context, it is worth to recall Thatcher’s Britain in terms of its immigration and multicultural policies. In other words, an analysis of the role of neo-liberalism in conceptions of immigration and multicultural policies is necessary. During the 1980s, ethnic minorities became geographically segregated and constituted a part of the ‘miserable British’. Furthermore, the entry of ethnic minorities for settlement was controlled and limited to close relatives. In the 1988 Immigration Act, the Thatcher government went further to remove the family reunion right[3]. In the 1988 Education Reform Act, Thatcher opposed positive action to aid integration or to encourage multicultural diversity by emphasizing the importance of British history, English and Christianity (Kim, 2010). Therefore, despite its polices on freedom, neo-liberalism did not tolerate cultural diversity and rather than recognizing difference, erasing is supported to bring better justice for minorities as well as majorities. Inequality mostly associated with individual ability in the free market. However, the situation was so this, it is questionable how and why most of the workers were still voted for Thatcher repeatedly. Even one of the worker, Larry, tries to criticize this situation, since the film does not have a didactic overtone and it just mirror the life of workers, the question stays without an answer.

Additionally, the film presents collapse of the trade unions due to policies that are introduced by Thatcher in the 1980s. One the important reason is why she called as ‘Iron Lady’ is that the way she crushed the UK’s trade unions and weakened the powers of the unions, particularly by making it more difficult to strike legally during her reign. What must be noted that Margaret Thatcher’s famous speech;

“We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty,” (Thatcher, 1984)

In the film, for example, in one scene, when Larry (Ricky Tomlinson) speaks about the unsafe and hazardous conditions, he is just easily fired from his job without any explanations or payment. Therefore, the labor union movement had been weakened and led to a decline in union membership. Union membership plummeted from a peak of 12 million in the late 70s to almost half that by the late 80s (Wilenius, 2004).

Lastly and the most importantly, the film give voices to worker’s alienated life under the construction site of a hospital into luxury apartments that they can never afford to live in. According to theory of alienation formulated by Karl Marx, people lose the control of their lives through losing control over their work under capitalist conditions, e.g., workers do not work autonomous, they lose their know-how and technical skills and become like machines. While Stevie presented as a model for daily routine of workers’ life, the film interchanges between his relationship with Susan who is an untalented singer and life scenes demonstrating Stevie and his fellows, workers of the construction site. When Stevie and Susan were discussing in one scene, Stevie famously states that: ‘Depressions are for the middle classes, the rest of us have got an early start in the morning.’ And this clearly shows how alienated life is for workers. In addition, the advertising campaign used during the 1979 general elections by Thatcher’s conservative party, ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ poster should be also noted to show the situation throughout 1980s.

All in all, the film directed by Ken Loach as a drama with a political overtones shows Britain’s working class reality and the dialogues among the workers are so thick and full of ironies throughout the film[4]. Despite its dramatic conclusion, the film included funny moments such as taking a bath in a show house by Larry. It is also a remarkable by a political punch, performances of the actors were so good and even the cast selected from the actors who have construction experiences so the scenes of the film were far from being unrealistic. Despite all these features of the film, I would like to point out minor shortcomings of it as well, for example the film has a cliché storyline so I personally waited something special on it but nothing was special or new. Additionally, it lacks from excitement. Even so these are all very minor problems which does not affect the film’s strong influence, therefore, the film gives a voice to workers who never benefited from properties that are provided by Thatcher’s policies.

 

Bibliography

Kim, N. (2010). Revisiting New Right citizenship discourse in Thatcher’s Britain. Ethnicities, 10(2), 208-235. Retrieved May, 2015, from http://etn.sagepub.com

Wilenius, P. (2004). Enemies within: Thatcher and the unions. BBC News. Retrieved May, 2015, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3067563.stm

Notes

[1] It translated as ‘Ayak Takımı’ into Turkish.

[2] In real life Tomlinson is a political activist and a long-time member of the Socialist Labour Party. Additionally he worked on building sites for many years becoming actively involved in politics and even he went to jail following a building strike in 1972.

[3] It had been previously given to men who settled in the UK before 1973 such that their wives and children had been able to enter without either marriage or financial tests. (Kim, 2010)

[4] The film is subtitled because the accent of the workers is very thick and difficult to understand.

DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

It is obvious to everyone, many things have been changing and today the earth is going into environmental crisis. Since the nature is seen as a kind of free gift that can be used and transformed in the market, exploitation of the nature has increased. In this context, ‘Darwin’s Nightmare’ is a really good documentary in terms of showing the capitalist exploitation of environment. Thus, in this essay, I will try to evaluate the elements of liberal utilitarian approach and capitalist exploitation of environment presented in the film Darwin’s Nightmare. First, to get a complete picture, I will briefly summarize the main theme and the key points in the film. Further, I will discuss the topic of globalization respectively colonization and their relations with capitalism. Then, I will move on an analysis how capitalism gives harm to the environment and of course to the humans. Finally, before making a conclusion in order to summarize of the key points presented in the main part, I will try to point out some shortcomings of the film.

To begin with, Darwin’s nightmare is a documentary on Lake Victoria of Tanzania where is the world’s biggest tropical lake and one day a predatory fish, the Nile perch, came to the lake and wiped out all the other variety of fish that the lake used to have. Then the Nile perch became one of most important commodity for starving Tanzanian families, which is sold in European and Japanese markets. The film deals with not only a fish that are killing everything else but also prostitutes getting killed, mercenary pilots flying with fish, homeless children sniffing glue as well as starving people who suffering from HIV diseases.

The film is initially presented an introduction to globalization by using a metaphor of Nile perch in order to show the impact of globalization and capitalism on local industry. Throughout the film, Lake Victoria became a name to symbolize the global capitalism. Since the Nile perch is an exportable and highly profitable commodity for Tanzania to European market, a bucket of Nile perch were injected into Tanzania’s Lake Victoria. Nevertheless the results were goes so bad- the Nile perch as a very big and predatory fish destroyed all the other species that keep the lake alive so the ecosystem in the lake is dies. Just like global capitalism destroyed and wiped out local industries all around the world, the Nile perch did the same.  So the existence of the Nile perch is a metaphor to exemplify the global capitalism and the small town Mwanza is small module of globalization.

Another important issue the film touches is that capitalism as a form of organization does not plan the future or make any plans about it. Even if the natural limits of their activities are very clear and obvious, capitalism just continues to exploitation of environment without any conscious. When the time come and all the resources are used and destroyed as a result of capitalist exploitation, the capitalists just move a new area of exploitation. Thus, capitalists solely specialize on their short-term interests rather than planning ahead. Just like presented in the film, therefore, destruction of the environment in Lake Victoria is not prevented by capitalists who get profit from the lake since capitalists ignore the natural limits of resources, think only their own self interests even it harms the rest of the society.

The next issue explained in the film is that ecological destruction harms everyone but mostly to the poor. Since the rich people have a self-reliant way of life and they only think their own welfare, they do not worry about the environmental crisis. Even if the crisis starts effecting their life, they can easily escape and move another place to continue to live. Thus they have an attitude of ‘not in my backyard’. Whereas the poor is mostly influenced and suffered from the environmental crisis just like it presented in the documentary.  For example, as a result destruction of the biodiversity in the Lake Victoria, the future of the poor local people is very bleak and dark. Therefore, environmentalism does not only means organic food or tote bags as the most of the rich people think.

As noted before, the film points out a variety of issues-war, poverty, prostitution, environmental crisis and the most importantly global capitalism. Despite all these significant issues addressed throughout the film, it still has several shortcomings. Firstly, the film is very disappointed regarding the context of it since some parts are not clearly explained or exemplified. For example, environmental context of the film is not sufficient enough. A big predatory fish, the Nile perch affects the biodiversity of the lake and it destroys all the other species living in the lake but this situation does not presented well in the film. Secondly, the film present only negative and dark side of a dualistic reality and it completely ignores the positive and good sides. Besides that, while prostitution, HIV virus, homeless children and so on so forth are not only special to Tanzania, they all can be found in different parts of the word, the director Hubert Sauper with a stereotypical, biased Western view  to Africa dramatize the situation in Tanzania. Thus, instead of presenting the counter parts and leave the viewers free to decide and choose their own opinion, the documentary left no open door for discussion or different points of view. Additionally, I personally disappointed about the amount of the interviews throughout the documentary. For instance, no governmental official or experts are interviewed. In terms of people who are interviewed, most of them are not fluent in English so complex and serious subjects are not explained very well.  Thus, this made the documentary a kind ‘question asker’ instead of answering the questions. Lastly, the film has no storyline since it was not professionally edited and recorded.

All in all, Darwin’s Nightmare is a documentary directed by Hubert Sauper and it explores the economic, social and ecological situation in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria and mirrors the life around the Lake Victoria- factory workers, owners, fisherman, pilots, homeless children, prostitutes and so on so forth. The film is not only represent many significant issues but also it use a metaphor of big predatory fish, the Nile perch in order to exemplify the severe effects of global capitalism to the local industries, however, it does not do so very effectively because of its several shortcomings as mentioned before. Despite all, it is a good documentary and it can be recommended for the ones who still not sure about the negative sides of the free trade and global capitalism.

À NOUS LA LIBERTÉ

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

Since organizations are conspicuous characteristics of modern industrialized societies, increasing number of them in each and every fields of life of mankind displays their importance. Despite their importance, organizations are also pointed out as the source of several problems in modern societies. Negative effects of the massive growth of organizations in every area of social existence basically explained by Ritzer with a term ‘Mcdonaldization of Society’[1]-in which the rationality of fast food restaurant on food preparation, employee-customer relations, depersonalization and most importantly mass production techniques are becoming dominant in every sector of life all around the globe because of globalization.  In this context, in this essay, I will try to analyze the film namely, À nous la liberté[2], that is directed by Rene Clair and staring Henri Marchand and Raymond Cordy. Apart from being the first foreign language film which received an Acady Award nomination, À nous la liberté is a great satire of mass production through portraying the dehumanization of workers at industrial age. Thus, my focus will be on the place of freedom in organizations represented throughout the film. Further, I will try to give an insight into nature of organizations and management by analyzing ‘prison’ metaphor in particular. Finally, a conclusion will be made in order to summarize key points analyzed in the main part.

Initially, the film starts in prison were two friends Louis (Raymond Cordy) and Emile (Henri Marchand) work in labor intensive assembly work and planning to escape together. But their escape plan does not go as planned, only Louis does escape successfully and the other, Emile, stays behind. Years pass and Louis becomes owner of a huge company in charge with a phonograph business. In the meantime, Emile is finally released from prison and eventually finds himself working at his friend’s phonograph factory, not even knowing his friend, Louis, is the owner at first. Then two old friends reunite and become an odd couple.

As noted before, Ritzer explains McDonaldization is ‘the process by which the principles of the fast food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more the sectors of American society as well as of the rest of the world’ (Ritzer, 1983). While he focuses on McDonaldization by association globalization as one built on dehumanizing and often ultimately irrational principles, he highlights the supreme efficiency of McDonald’s service as a testament to the assembly lines of Henry Ford, ‘speeding the way from secretion to excretion’ (Engle, 2012). Through the assembly lines, each employee is responsible for a smaller portion of a job and this brings the limitation employee’s freedom and he or she also becomes more dependent in the work situation. As a model of workplace organizations the phonograph factory presented throughout the film directed by Rene Clair is a clear example of assembly line technology and the mass production in order to evaluate worker’s experience of freedom and alienation at the same time. Since the assembly line have a speed set that considerable increasing for more production, workers are forced to keep working in synchronization each and every day.  Thus, the pressure over the workers increases to fulfill a repetitive and dull job defined by the organization.  For instance, in one impressive scene of the film, while workers are working continuously on the assembly line, process fall out of control as a result of speeding up the line. Therefore, the modern industrial age on the assembly lines causes dehumanization of mankind, alienation and most importantly limited freedom, even not to mention dissatisfaction of workers, extreme working hours, severe work conditions and so on so forth.

Additionally, it might be argued that the film gives an insight into the nature of organizations and management. The impressive opening scene of À nous la liberté takes places in prison in which prisoners are  acting like machine and toiling on the assembly line which speeds up to produce little toy horses in a factory setting. For example, even the lunches of workers are served on an assembly line just like the job they do. Throughout the film, the director Rene Clair represents dehumanization of workers or prisoners by shifting the scenes from prison to factory which is producing record players and owned by ex-convict, Louis whom escaped from prison. Thus the absolute picture on dehumanizing of mankind shows the parallelism of life in factory and life in prison. In other words, life of workers at the modern industrial age is identical with the life of a convict in prison.

All in all, À nous la liberté is a great satire of modern mass production on the assembly line and a successful critique of age of industrialization by Rene Clair. Clair uses a strong metaphor in order to indicate dehumanization of mankind in the assembly line which is the ‘great’ invention of Henry Ford. Throughout the film, the story presented along musical lines and this gives the film a taste of musical since the film has little talks and the characters sing at several times as well. Furthermore, it must be noted Clair’s film À nous la liberté obviously influenced by Charlie Chaplin to create his famous film- Modern Times. The production company of the film, even, filed a lawsuit against Chaplin by claiming Chaplin plagiarized many ideas from À nous la liberté while creating ‘Modern Times’. In fact Clair as the director of the film refused the lawsuit since he considers inspiration of Chaplin from his film is nothing but a compliment to him.

 

Bibliography

Engle, J. (2012). McDonaldization: An Analysis of George Ritzer’s Theories and Assertions.

The Journal of Peace, Prosperity & Freedom, 113-123. Retrieved 2015, from http://www.la.org.au/files/LibertyAustralia/McDonaldization_An_Analysis_of_George_Ritzers_Theories_and_Assertions_-_John_Engle.pdf

Ritzer, G. (1983). The “McDonaldization” of Society. Journal of American Culture, 6(1), 100–107. Retrieved 2015, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1542-734X.1983.0601_100.x/abstract

Scott, W.R. (2003). Organizations: Rational, Natural and Open Systems. Pearson, 3-30

Notes

[1] It is a concept used by sociologist George Ritzer in his book titled  ‘The McDonaldization of Society’ (1993). He explains that homogenization of cultures as a result of adoption the characteristics of a fast-food restaurant.

[2] ‘Freedom for us’ in English

MEDIA IMAGES OF THE POOR AND PORNOGRAPHY OF POVERTY

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to show how poverty is represented in the media by examining stereotypic media images of the poor and the prevalence of pornography of poverty on Turkish television. This study examines televised images of the poor by an analysis of the media that contributing to creation of ‘otherness’ by representation. In this context, representation of poverty in the charity programmes on Turkish television, particularly, ‘Evim Şahane’, will be analyzed during a one month period by watching fifteen episodes of the programme that are recorded beginning November 14, 2014 until December 15, 2014. Further, the study looks at the images used in marketing and fundraising materials used by charitable organizations such as IHH İnsani Yardım Vakfı and Kimse Yok mu Derneği.

Media, Representation and Poverty

One of the major theme of media and cultural theory is the idea that all cultural representations are political. Representations are not pure or innocent, they can serve interests of cultural oppression by positioning certain groups as inferior and pointing to the superiority of dominant social groups (Bullock, 2001). Further, representation, especially in the narratives of television, produces and circulates cultural meanings, values and identities through the use of language (Çamur, 2004). The representation of practices of social life in language operates through ideology.  Television as a tool of representation has an ideology, everything has an ideology, yet, the question is that these ideologies match with reality?

Media within an Althusserian framework is an ideological state apparatus[1] concerned with the reproduction of dominant ideologies, yet, because this is so subtle and covert, members of society do not realize that this is happening. (Althusser, 1969). For example, when we replace the world ideology with dream, we are not dreaming because we cannot face reality, but rather our dreaming is necessary (Lain, 2011).We are like fish swimming in the ocean, the ocean is ideology and we are the fish that cannot notice the ocean. Thus, Althusser believes we are controlled by ideologies that circulated and produced by agencies. Their ideas of what is right or wrong, what we can or cannot are inflicted upon us, brainwashing us until we believe that these ideologies are the way of life (Althusser, 1969). This explains, television as a tool of representation does not merely ‘mirror realities’, it constitutes versions of reality in which depend on the social positions and interest and objectives of those who produce them (Çamur, 2004). As Lasswell famously states in 1948, ‘Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What Channel (with) What effect’, is important.

Many mainstream media in Turkey controlled by few powerful cooperation, therefore, the issues are more likely to be defined by and to reflect the interest of dominant social groups. When this happens, less powerful groups such as the poor are at risk of being devaluated and stereotyped in the media. Popular television programmes present the poor in a distorted and negative manner and they support negative stereotypes about low-income people by framing techniques that present poverty as an individual problem rather than a societal issue rooted in political and economic inequality (Bullock, 2001).

Charity Programmes

In Turkey, especially in 1990s, we see a growing numbers of charity programmes and organizations which provides the poor with aid. Besides the large number of them, what they have in common is the representation of the poor as objects of pity and aid and dramatizing of them by visual and aural techniques such as slow motion, black and white photographs, limited motions and music, etc. It is here claimed that critical discourse analysis of the charity programmes shows that poverty is naturalized and legitimized, being made no reference to economic, social and political context of poverty (Çamur, 2004). First to get a complete picture, I will briefly refer to history of charity programmes in Turkey. In the following analysis, it will be shown the political, cultural and ideological discourses that shape the structure of the television programmes, particularly, ‘Evim Şahane’, as well as the aural and visual representation of poverty in this programme will be examined.

In Turkey, representation of poverty in charity programmes shows that it has been dramatized and romanticized. When we look at the historical background of charity programme, in 1996, ‘Şehir ve Ramazan’ was started as a broadcasting programme in Channel 7 and it was a first of its kind. The programme started in the month of Ramadan then the same format of it continued after Ramadan under another name as ‘Deniz Feneri Association’ programme in 1997, presented by Uğur Arslan and İbrahim Uğurlu (Koçak, 2014). Today, it continues its charity campaign as a charity organization. According to website of the association, it is defined as ‘an association which works for public interest and can collect without permission’ and ‘until now 1.709.603 human, total 3.848.750 times got donations’[2]. Further, the programme, namely ‘Kimse Yok mu’ appeared on Samanyolu channel in 2002 as a television program aimed to help ‘unfortunate, needy, and hopeless people and it was granted Public Interest Association status in 2006. In addition, a programme called ‘Yolcu’ that broadcasted on Samanyolu channel as well and it presented ‘the journey of the extraordinary lives to love’ (Çamur, 2004). Another programme titled ‘Yarınlar Umut Olsun’ broadcasting in ATV to gather financial assistance for the people in need and being their hope.

Evim Şahane

Evim Şahane which appeared on Kanal D for the first time in March 5, 2012 as a daytime home makeover show presented by interior designer, Selim Yuhay. Different than above mentioned charity programmes, it contains in which decoration, architecture, entertainment, design and aid for poor people all together. The programme has been recorded 394 episodes since 2012. In the first time it appeared, the format was decorating and renewing the houses of ‘rich’ people by wrecking kitchens, cutting curtains, breaking tables, destroying everything that they called as ‘old’. After so many critics have been made about this wasteful attitude of the programme, it changed its format then started to ‘robbing from the rich and giving to the poor’. In this context, the biggest problem of Evim Şahane, though, is its tone about poverty. Although the programme is proud of helping so many poor people with ‘aid’ by decorating the houses, it represent the poverty as something unimportant and even ridiculous through pretending to solve the problems of the poor. The most significant characteristic of the programme that can be observed entire show is visual and aural language of it on representation of the poor. It represents the scenes about the poor and their houses in slow-motion in order to dramatize the poverty. As Erdoğan points out the slow motion is the visual metaphor of ‘carrying the burden of the world’ on one’s shoulders. (Çamur, 2004)

For instance, December 13, 2014 dated episode of Evim Şahane filmed the life of Cemile who lives with her three children after the death of her husband in an accident. In the shots that are taken in their house, firstly, there is a stress on the lack of space in the house and the presenter, Selim Yuhay asks:

‘We have approximately 18-20 square feet space and four people living together, actually, I just wander how do you sleep in here?’[3]

The children as an important components of the visually of poverty gives the details about their life in interviews and they say;

‘I cannot invite my friends to my home’[4]

And as an answer the question that the presenter asked;

‘I and my sister are sleeping together, my mom and my other sister are sleeping together’[5]

Also, the camera shots every part of the house, there is no privacy, even the toilet of the house are represented. The voiceover stresses that because of the lack of space the ‘clever’ but the ‘poor’ little girls study in the toilet of the house as a result of lack of space.

According to the logic of the programme, the reason behind the poverty of this family is the loss of the father, yet, everything is great when their home in the hand of the presenter of the programme, Selim Yuhay. After restoration and design made by Selim Yuhay, the clever little girls do not have to do their homework in the toilet anymore, because now they have a table with a remarkable style that resting on the marble legs, combining modern design with classic style in its wooden white lacquered structure in a room decorated according to the latest trends in order to bring a sense of ‘richness.

In this context, the programme back grounded social, political and economic problems of poverty. It focuses the image of sad and crying children to dramatize the poverty. Poverty is indicated through slow motion that companied with a slow and sad music, black and white photographs to create emotional influence on the audience. Further, the programme represent well-decorated, new and modern house as a solution of the poverty without cultural, political and economic context of poverty. Also, the reason of poverty individualized such as the loss of the father, in this respect, Aysel Çamur states;

‘In these programmes, to the extent that poverty is associated with inferior life chances, poverty and deprivation of the people are reduced into personal problems and personal defects.’

The portrayals of poverty on television and reality of it in Turkey is well illustrated in the study made by Necmi Erdoğan. The reality of poverty is totally different than the media coverage of the poor. Thus, media shapes misperceptions of the poor with television programmes. Erdogan analyses the portrayals of the poor and he blames the way that television programmes using to represent the poverty is being ‘pornography of poverty (Erdoğan, 2002). He famously writes;

‘The object of both porno films and the shows about the poor is the body and they both “expose” what is called private. The poor on the screens are like the women on the pornos. One always desires the penis while the other desires bread or pills; one is phallocentric while the other is gastronomical or pathological. One is there to arouse your libido, yet the other activates your conscience”. (Çamur, 2004)

Therefore, critical discourse analysis of programme shows how the emotions of the audience are evoked for making aid through slow motion and close shots are used like the ones in pornography. In addition, it points out poverty represented as an individual problem rather than being societal issue that rooted in political and economic reasons.

Art as Pornography of Poverty

When we turn our discussion from television programmes to the charitable organizations in Turkey such as Kimse Yok Mu, IH, what we see is the use of art as pornography of poverty, especially as an advertisement technique in order to collect money by ‘connecting’ people emotionally. Charity organizations use most commonly photographs of starving babies, refugees as other ‘helpless and passive objects’ for leading to pessimism and convincing people for charity. (Oliver, 2006). Thus, charitable agencies have been raising tremendous amonts of money but perhaps doing profound damage of the same time by using representation of the poor by begging eyes, distended bellies and starving souls. Portrayals like these are no accidents. The rationale goes like this: the happy Picture do not attract the money. Nor do complex explanations of why people are suffering (Nathanson, 2013).

For instance, Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a Sudanese child and a vulture reached a great fame and has been used by charity organizations for fundraising campaigns about poverty. In March 1993, Kevin Carter took the iconic photograph of a Sudanese child who stalked by a vulture sold to the New York Times  and was carried in many other newspapers around the world. The photo was so stunning and many people contacted the newspaper to question the questioned the fate of the child, yet, Carter had no answer. With the success of the image came a lot of controversy, an article printed in 1994 in the St Petersburg Times commented on the morality of Carter’s actions and the photograph has been critised as poverty porn, ‘the man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene,’ (Stamets cited in Ricchiardi, 1999). To this end, Kevin Carter committed suicide. Overall, many criticism have been made but the photograph positively and negatively, as well as the moral dilemma about the photograph. Yet one thing is clear that the photograph was the poverty porn.

Conclusion

All in all, in this paper, I have tried to show how poverty is represented in the media by examining media images of the poor and the prevalence of pornography of poverty on Turkish television. First, I have focused on the relation among the media, representation and poverty to show how poverty is represented ideologically and politically by mainstream media in Turkey. In the following analysis, to get a complete picture, I have referred to the historical background of charity programmes in Turkey. Since my particular focus was the programme, namely, Evim Şahane, I have examined how poverty is represented in this programme. Even though, the programme individualizes the poverty through detaching it from its political and ideological reasons, it gives voice to the poor who made invisible by the media. However, as Erdoğan (2002) expresses, to make the poor talk in front of the cameras does not mean to expose the “real” and “authentic” voice of the poor.

 

Bibliography

Adorno, T. How to Look at Television, the Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture.

Althusser, L. (1969). “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”

Bullock, H. E. (2001). Media Images of the Poor. Journal of Social Issues, 2, 229-246.

Çamur, A. (2004). Charity Programmes: Representations of Poverty in Turkish Television

Erdoğan, N. (2002). Ağır Çekim Yoksulluk. N. Erdoğan, Yoksulluk Halleri. Demokrasi Kitaplığı.

Kellner, D.M. and Durham, M.G. (2001). Adventures in Media and Cultural Studies: Introducing the Key Works. D. K. Durham, Media and Cultural Studies Key Works. Oxford: Blackwell.

Koçak, R. (2014). The Deniz Feneri Association Model in Humane Aid. Turkish World NGO Summit / Papers 145-150. Retrieved on January 14, 2015, from: http://www.stkzirve.com/turkicworld-ngo-summit-EN.pdf#page=145

Lain, D. (2011). Five Steps for Understanding Althusser’s Concept of Ideology Without Going Insane. Retrieved on January 14, 2015, from: http://thoughtcatalog.com/doug-lain/2011/06/five-steps-for-understanding-althussers-concept-of-ideology-without-going-insane/

Nathanson, J. (2013). The Pornography of Poverty: Reframing the Discourse of International Aid’s Representations of Starving Children. Canadian Journal of Communication, 38, p.103-120.

Oliver, A. (2006). The ‘Pornography of Poverty’ and ‘Brothel without Walls’: Understanding the Impact of Art on Development. Undercurrent, 3(2).

Ricchiardi, S. (1999), ‘Confronting the Horror’. American Journalism Review, January/February 1999.

Safo, A. (2002). NGOs present false images of Africa. News from Africa. Retrieved on January 15, 2015, from:  http://www.newsfromafrica.org/newsfromafrica/articles/art_853.html.

 

Notes

[1] Althusser argues that there are in fact two kinds of State apparatuses: the Repressive State Apparatus and the Ideological State Apparatus. The former includes the “institutions” of the Government, the Administration, the Army, the Police, the Courts, the Prisons, etc. The latter includes the religious ISA (the system of the different Churches), the educational such as school, the family, the legal, political, cultural and finally the media (press, radio and television, etc.

[2] For more information: http://www.denizfeneri.org.tr/

[3] 18-20 metre kara bir alanımız var ve dört kişi yaşıyorsunuz, burada nasıl yattığınızı merak ediyorum.

[4] Ben arkadaşlarımı getiremiyorum eve.

[5] Ablamla ikimiz yatıyoruz, annemle de diğer ablam yatıyor.

 

DE CERTEAU, M. (1984): THE PRACTICE OF EVERYDAY LIFE

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

Undoubtedly Michel de Certeau as one of the most important intellectuals and cultural theorists is largely known for his two-volume work L’Invention du quotidien (The Practice of Everyday Life) on contemporary popular cultural practices. In this remarkable work, de Certeau attempts to bring to light the models of action characteristic of users whose status as the dominated element in society is concealed through the term ‘consumers’. By making explicit the systems of operational combination which also compose a culture, he claims those status do not necessarily mean that they are either passive or docile.

Throughout his work, de Certeau openly criticizes Foucault’s instrumental power relations, presenting an account of individuals (agents) and seeking to shadow Foucault’s analysis of the microphysics of power. For Foucault power relations spread within society and power can be found in everywhere unexpectedly, as mechanized actions, knowledge and practices in daily life. On this basis, Foucault focuses precisely on details of social practices in order for analyzing power.  Whilst Foucault sees merely passive consumers at the mercy of structural forces and necessarily portrays power as absolutely productive and repressive, which allow no possibility for individuals to resist it, de Certeau wants consumers to be active users who ‘make innumerable and infinitesimal transformations of and within the dominant cultural economy in order to adapt it to their own interests and their own rules.’ (de Certeau, xiv). Thus de Certeau brought focus on complexity of power relations through criticizing Foucauldian one dimensional flow of power.

Further, de Certeau analyzes the procedures, effects, bases and possibilities that individuals use everyday in order to overthrow the disciplining powers. And he presents clandestine forms taken through the dispersed, tactical, and makeshift creativity of individuals or groups who seek to destroy structural forms of discipline and compose the network of an anti-discipline. On this basis, de Certeau makes a distinction between tactics and strategies. He explains strategy as the calculus of force-relationships which becomes possible when a subject of will and power can be isolated from an environment. Strategies are actions which elaborate theoretical places capable of articulating an ensemble of physical places in which forces distributed. Tactics, on the other hand, is explained by de Certeau, as a calculus which cannot count on a borderline distinguishing the other as a visible totality. Whilst strategies pin their hopes on the resistance that establishment of a place offers to the erosion of time, tactics on a clever utilization of time, of the opportunities it presents and also of the play that it introduces into the foundations of power. In this respect, the difference between these two historical options made regarding action and security (de Certeau, xvii).

Among the anti-disciplinary everyday practices (talking, cooking, walking, dwelling, etc.) analyzed by de Certeau, reading is considered as particularly significant. As noted by de Certeau, reading seems to constitute the maximal development of passivity assumed to characterize the consumer. In essence, the activity of reading, for de Certeau, is a silent production without capitalizing and without taking control over time. Further de Certeau use the rented apartment metaphor (renters make changes in an apartment they furnish it with their memories and acts) in order to show how individuals have ability to interpret the text beyond its dominant meaning which has been decided by ones (such as the author) who create and monopolize the readings.

Additionally, in the 1980s and 1990s, de Certeau’s works gained fame in a number of fields, particularly in media and popular culture studies, most notably the notion of ‘consumers’ engaged in ‘cultural and textual poaching’ later developed in the highly influential work of Henry Jenkins and John Fiske. By demonstrating various ways in which poaching shifts from a tactic of reading to a tactic of time and calling these as ‘clever tricks of the weak’, de Certeau influences Fiske’s discussions upon poaching as a resistance strategy for the individual in Understanding Popular Culture.

Significantly, too, de Certeau has also analyzed theoretically the issue that of individuals or audiences are not merely passive and manipulated consumers since they have power either through accepting or resisting the power relations. This analysis follows Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model of communication (1980) which explains that the dominant ideology is usually inscribed as the preferred reading within a text, but the readers do not adopt them automatically. By proposing a model of mass communication which emphasized the importance of active interpretation within relevant codes, Hall demonstrated that the social situations of readers may lead them to adopt different stances toward media texts. In this context, he came up with there ways to read the mass media text. The first one is dominant readings in which the reader completely favors preferred reading in a way the author intended, making the code transparent and natural. The second one is negotiated readings that of the reader partly believes the code and broadly accepts the preferred reading. Lastly, oppositional readings are produced by the readers whose social position places them into direct conflict or oppositional relation with the preferred reading and the dominant code, thus readers do not necessarily accept such codes but they reject the reading.