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Critical Theory in a Swing: Political Consumerism between Politics and Policy

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Part of the Consumption and Public Life book series (CUCO)

Abstract

The question raised in this chapter is: does the idea of political consumerism, with its logic of immediacy, credo of ‘doing it yourself, and ‘on’ and off or ‘hit’ and ‘run’ kind of participation have any radical political potential? Can it offer a fresh critical glance at the world, or is it but a continuation of the same old story of liberalism gone wild as staged and manipulative public opinion? If one asks Chantal Mouffe and Jürgen Habermas for advice, two icons of contemporary radical, critical thinking, they would not be in doubt. Although they disagree on nearly everything philosophically, they would strongly agree that political consumerism is a sham. It results from an oppressive form of marketization and depoliticization of democracy, which hides its ideological domination behind a false rhetoric of consensus and the ‘end’ of ideology. Mouffe would see it as manifesting ‘a marked cynicism about politics and politicians and this has a very corrosive effect on popular policy’.1Habermas would dismiss political consumerism as ‘features of a staged “public opinion” [where] “suppliers” display a showy pump before customers ready to follow’.2In both frameworks political consumerism is rejected as the lowest common denominator, not requiring a raised level of understanding and reflection to meet the requirements of the cultural supply.

Keywords

  • Civil Society
  • Public Sphere
  • Critical Theory
  • Political Communication
  • Political Authority

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© 2007 Henrik Paul Bang

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Bang, H.P. (2007). Critical Theory in a Swing: Political Consumerism between Politics and Policy. In: Bevir, M., Trentmann, F. (eds) Governance, Consumers and Citizens. Consumption and Public Life. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230591363_9

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