Cultural Citizenship

Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitanism, Consumerism, and Television in a Neoliberal Age

Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Cultural Citizenship
    Book Description:

    What does it mean to be a "citizen" today, in an age of unbridled consumerism, terrorism, militarism, and multinationalism? In this passionate and dazzling book, Toby Miller dares to answer this question with the depth of thought it deserves. Fast-moving and far-ranging,Cultural Citizenshipblends fact, theory, observation, and speculation in a way that continually startles and engages the reader. Although he is unabashedly liberal in his politics, Miller is anything but narrow minded. He looks at media coverage of September 11th and the Iraq invasion as well as "infotainment"-such as Food and Weather channels-to see how U.S. TV is serving its citizens as part of "the global commodity chain." Repeatedly revealing the crushing grip of the invisible hand of television, Miller shows us what we have given up in our drive to acquire and to "belong." For far too long, "cultural citizenship" has been a concept invoked without content. With the publication of this book, it has at last been given flesh and substance.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-562-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-26)

    We are in a crisis of belonging, a population crisis, of who, what, when, and where. More and more people feel as though theydo notbelong. More and more people areseekingto belong, and more and more people are notcountedas belonging.Cultural Citizenshipis concerned with the way this crisis is both registered and held in check in the United States, through practices of government, consumption, risk, and moral panic in popular culture, specifically television. With economic welfare disowned as a responsibility of the sovereign state, and pushed onto individuals and communities, governing at a distance...

    (pp. 27-73)

    Why citizenship, and why now? When I started talking about citizenship to people interested in cultural and social movement activism twenty years ago, they often seemed either disturbed or bored. “What is this rapprochement with the state?” “Why refer to universal concepts when there should be a focus on specific forms of oppression and rights?” and “Is this about social control achieved through civics?” were representative—and bowdlerized—responses. Within a decade, such talk had passed, because the term had gained currency in political discussion and academic research. This happened for two main reasons: First, various oppositional formations had splintered....

  6. 2 TELEVISION TERROR: Being Ignorant, Living in Manhattan
    (pp. 74-111)

    In the quotations above, Dan Rather’s jingoism is matched only by Peter Jennings’ twee reference to dispossession. Roy tragically contextualizes their ignorance. Together, these remarks indicate the bizarre blend of hyperemotionalism and mythic folksiness that substitute for critical analysis in mainstream U.S. television. Ironically, some U.S. media professionals acclaimed Rather’s words as signs of a renewal of journalism. His bellicose calls for retributive violence, just moments after the attacks on the Northeastern United States, were quickly echoed by NBC’s Tom Brokaw (Zelizer and Allan 2002b, 5; Eisman 2003, 57–58). This chapter explains Rather’s and Jennings’ banal but dangerous comments...

  7. 3 TELEVISION FOOD: From Brahmin Julia to Working-Class Emeril
    (pp. 112-143)

    Food is materially and symbolically crucial to life and its government. A key site of subjectivity in every society, food is an index of power. It was the basis of the earliest class systems, symbolized by consumption, and religions, organized around harvesting. The three types of citizenship can be mapped by food: the political by food policy; the economic by food resources; and the cultural by food symbolism. Although food is often produced in rural settings, it is increasingly an urban problem and pleasure—literally a moving feast, traveling great distances, accreting and attenuating power and meaning through cultural contact...

  8. 4 TELEVISION WEATHER: Tomorrow Will Be … Risky and Disciplined
    (pp. 144-176)

    When the weather wreaks havoc, it turns the world upside down. Objects and processes once considered straightforward and benign (sparkplugs, drainage, commuting, or sitting by the window) are transformed into sites of peril. An “other” side to domestic and professional life emerges as monstrous under altered conditions of existence, with the very weather itself anthropomorphized as willful. So the flooding Mississippi is “angry,” and Midwesterners and Southerners struggling against it are industrious folk who deserve divine deliverance as a reward for their labors. The folly of their interventions to bend the river to the will of capital is deemed heroic,...

    (pp. 177-180)

    Let us return to where we began, and the seven formations that have theorized cultural citizenship (see Figure 2).

    Both the arid lands of Bennett and the humidispheres of Rosaldo, Kymlicka, Parekh, and Chua illustrate the improbability of wiping from history the differences between indigenes, dominant settlers, and minority migrants. Yet, Rorty contrives a human-capital merger of all the above, and Lewis and Huntington offer an ideological justification for hollowing out material history and accounting for Western hegemony in cultural terms. A neoliberal worldview, whose limits are set via the hyperculturalism and closet nationalism of the “clash” theorists, can seemingly...

    (pp. 181-228)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 229-236)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-237)