Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Lecture 3 : Marxism and Design Activism

Marxism and Design Activism


-To introduce a critical definition of ideology.
-To introduce some of the basic principle of Marxist philosophy.
-To explain the extent to which the media constitutes us as subjects.
-To introduce ‘culture jamming’ and the idea of design activism.

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point,however, is to change it.

Marx, K. (1845) ‘Theses On Feuerbach

Marxism is: A political manifesto,leading to socialism, communism and the twentieth century conflicts between capital and labour.

A philosophical approach to the social sciences, which focuses on the role of society in determining human behaviour, based on concept of dialectical materialism.

What is capitalism?

Bourgeoisie  ---------------Thecommodity------------------Proletariat

Everything is bought and sold, people are also commodities along with shoes andropes. Our actions revolve around the logic of a market; the way the market operates is through money, a system which makes us compete.

-Control of means of production in private hands.
-A market where labour power is bought and sold.

Communist Evolution.

The very early stages of human society, hunter gatherer societies, those societies co-operated on every single level and shared everything. There was no such thing as a monogamous relationship. Woman dominated society.

1.Primitive Communism: As seen in cooperative tribal societies.
2.Slave society: develops when the tribe becomes a city-state. Birth of aristocracy.
3.Feudalism:aristocracy becomes the ruling class merchants develop into capitalists.
4.Capitalism: Capitalists are the ruling class, who create and employ the real working classes.
5.Socialism: (“Dictatorship of Proletariat”)
Marx’s Concept ofbase/Superstructure.


Forces of production –materials, tools, workers, skills etc
Relations of Production – employer/employee, class, master/slave etc


Social institutions – legal, political, cultural.
Forms of consciousness – Ideology

“The history of all the hitherto existing society is history of classstruggles”

Religion in a Marxism reading could bee seen as a human trap teaches us that ifwe work hard and abide by certain rules we will be rewarded upon death, i.egoing to heaven.


1. System of ideas or beliefs (eg beliefs of a political party)
2.Masking, distortion, or selection of ideas, to reinforce power relations,through creation of ‘false consciousness.’

‘Religion is the opiate of the masses’ Karl Marx, 1843

Art was ideological because it reflects what a certain class thinks. Art wasmade by the rich and bought by the rich so it was related to a specific class.It was used.


Ideology is a practice through which men and women ‘live’ their relations to realconditions of existence.

Ideology offers false, but seemingly true resolutions to social imbalance.

Althusser, (1970) ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’

The media As Ideological StateApparatus.

A means of production.
Disseminates the views of the ruling class (dominant hegemonic)
Media creates a false consciousness.
The individual is produced by nature; the subject by culture (Fiske 1992)
-The constitution of the subject

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