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Consumers and Citizens

Consumers and Citizens: Globalization and Multicultural Conflicts

Néstor García Canclini
Translated and with an Introduction by George Yúdice
Volume: 6
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Consumers and Citizens
    Book Description:

    The best-known and most innovative cultural studies scholar in Latin America maps the critical effects of urban sprawl and global media and commodity markets on citizens-and shows at the same time that the complex results mean not only a shrinkage of certain traditional rights (particularly those of the welfare or client state) but also new openings for expanding citizenship.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8830-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Translator’s Introduction From Hybridity to Policy For a Purposeful Cultural Studies
    (pp. ix-2)

    Néstor García Canclini, an Argentine with a doctorate from the University of Paris, has been a professor of anthropology at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana—Iztapalapa since the early 1990s, where he heads the Program for the Study of Urban Cultures. He is undoubtedly the best-known and the most innovative cultural studies scholar in Latin America. His work straddles the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, art and literary studies, and cultural policy studies. Among his many books,Cortázar, una antropología poética(Cortázar, a poetic anthropology, 1968), on the noted Argentine “Boom” novelist and shortstory writer, andLa producción simbólica(Symbolic production, 1979),...

  4. Author’s Preface to the English-Language Edition The North-South Dialogue on Cultural Studies
    (pp. 3-14)
  5. Introduction Twenty-first-Century Consumers, Eighteenth-Century Citizens
    (pp. 15-34)

    This book attempts to understand how changes in modes of consumption have altered the possibilities and forms of citizenship. The exercise of citizenship has always been associated with the capacity to appropriate commodities and with ways of using them. It has also been commonplace to assume that the difference in modes of consuming and using commodities is canceled out by equality of abstract rights, actualized in voting, in choosing a political party or a labor union as one’s representative. The insolvency of politics and the loss of belief in its institutions have created opportunities for other forms of participation. Men...

  6. Part I Cities in Globalization

    • Chapter 1 Consumption Is Good for Thinking
      (pp. 37-48)

      Proof that common sense does not coincide with “good sense” can be obtained by focusing one’s research on consumption. In everyday language, consumption is usually associated with useless expenditures and irrational compulsions. This moral and intellectual disqualification is based on other commonplaces regarding the omnipotence of the mass media, which presumably incite the masses to gorge themselves unthinkingly with commodities.

      There are still some who fault the poor for buying televisions, video players, and cars when they don’t even own a home. How can one make sense of families who squander their Christmas bonuses on parties and presents when they...

    • Chapter 2 Mexico Cultural Globalization in a Disintegrating City
      (pp. 49-66)

      Research on cultural consumption in a large city places us at the intersection of debates in the social sciences. There are three interconnected problems that demonstrate this linkage between the crisis of megacities and the crisis in social knowledge:

      1. Can one still speak of the city and of urban life in a megalopolis with more than ten million inhabitants?

      2. To what degree can urban cultures defined by local traditions survive in an era in which culture is deterritorialized and cities reordered to form transnational systems of information, communication, commerce, and tourism?

      3. How can we study urban issues...

    • Chapter 3 Urban Cultural Policies in Latin America
      (pp. 67-76)

      What principles should guide cultural action in today’s large urban centers? Almost everything written on cultural policies envisions them within a framework of identity, whether national or that of the inhabitants of a particular territory. Similarly, the scant literature on urban cultural policies assumes that they should refer to the ensemble of traditions, practices, and modes of interaction that distinguish the residents of a given city.

      But just as the notion of national cultures has been put into doubt, we must also question what it means to belong to a city, especially a megacity. Are there still in Mexico City,...

    • Chapter 4 Narrating the Multicultural
      (pp. 77-86)

      I would like to propose a discussion of the current state of multiculturalism and its function in urban studies of culture. My work is situated primarily in the social sciences; however, insofar as I take interest in the city not only as an object of knowledge but as a site in which to imagine and narrate, I attend to certain issues that belong to the domain of literature. Multicultural intersections and the industrialization of the symbolic have induced literary theory to expand its analytical repertoire to include signifying processes that textualize and narrate the social differently than in canonical literary...

  7. Part II Postnational Suburbias

    • Chapter 5 Identities as a Multimedia Spectacle
      (pp. 89-96)

      Identity is a narrated construct. It involves the establishment of a set of founding events, which almost always refer to the appropriation of a territory by a people or the independence gained in the struggle against foreigners. The narrative proceeds by adding up the feats through which the inhabitants defend their territory, order their conflicts, and establish the legitimate ways of life there in order to distinguish themselves from others. Textbooks and museums, civic rituals and political speeches were for a long time the mechanisms by which each nation’s Identity (with a capital I) was formed and its narrative rhetoric...

    • Chapter 6 Latin America and Europe as Suburbs of Hollywood
      (pp. 97-108)

      December 1993, in Brussels: for the first time, controversies over cultural policies took center stage in international economic debates. This meeting of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), at which 117 countries approved the most far-reaching trade liberalization in history, nearly broke down because of disagreements in three areas: agriculture, textiles, and the audiovisual industry. The conflicts in the first two areas were resolved through mutual concessions negotiated between the United States and European governments. An analysis of the discrepancies that led to the exclusion of film and television from the agreement is of the greatest importance for...

    • Chapter 7 From the Public to the Private The “Americanization” of Spectators
      (pp. 109-122)

      The future of multiculturality depends not only on policies of national and international integration. The habits and tastes of consumers condition their capacity to become citizens. Their exercise of citizenship is shaped in relation to artistic and communicational referents, and to their preferred entertainment and forms of information. Let’s examine how cultural practices and preferences are being restructured in relation to the transformations taking place in the film, television, and video industries.

      The crises of the film industry have almost always been related to technological changes. The appearance of the talkies, cinemascope, and competition from television were some of the...

    • Chapter 8 Multicultural Policies and Integration via the Market
      (pp. 123-134)

      In 1994 the Latin American presidential summit held two meetings in two emblematic cities to try to reanimate a project that had languished for some time: regional integration. The first, held in June in Cartagena de Indias, included a representative of the Spanish government; the second, held in December in Miami, included Clinton but not Fidel Castro.

      The first attempt to include this continent in the world economy took place five hundred years ago. Homogeneous labor-control methods in different regions facilitated the unification of local styles of production and consumption. The Christianization of the Indians, their introduction to literacy in...

  8. Part III Negotiation, Integration, and Getting Unplugged

    • Chapter 9 Negotiation of Identity in Popular Classes?
      (pp. 137-150)

      Any serious attempt at rethinking citizenship should endeavor to understand how the process of negotiation relates to the other concepts invoked in the title of this chapter. Indeed, recent studies seeking to redefine the concepts of identity, class, and the popular have taken the analysis of negotiation processes as a key heuristic. But I place the question mark at the end of the title to ask whether or not negotiation is possible in the current context of the restructuring of political and communicational spheres.

      Without playing down the history of each of these terms or what specific sets of issues...

    • Chapter 10 How Civil Society Speaks Today
      (pp. 151-162)

      It is said that when Jack Lang was the French minister of culture, upon being asked what he understood by the termculture,he answered: everything for which there is a General Directorate. The majority of cultural policies carried out by Latin American countries still seem mired in this bureaucratic inertia. Or, to express it more graphically, they are ruins from a lost era.

      The critiques of government action and the analyses of sociocultural changes presented in this book deal with the inability of policies to respond to what takes place in civil society. Forty years after the electronic communications...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 163-182)
  10. Index
    (pp. 183-200)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 201-201)