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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Debord, Guy

DAVID REDMON

University of Kent at Canterbury, UK

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs092

Guy Debord (1931–94), the founding member of the social revolutionary organization Situationist International, is most famous for his polemic The Society of the Spectacle – a montage of theoretical writings which analyzed the transformation of a society organized around production and manufacturing into one organized around the consumption of “an immense accumulation of spectacles.” According to Best and Kellner (1997, 81), Debord sought to update the Marxian emphasis on class struggle, capital, and factory work by directing attention to the accumulation of capital through a series of integrated images that manufacture reality. Capitalism recreates space in its own image in a wide range of venues, from the total institutions of packaged tourist resorts, to the malls across America, to the fabricated fantasies of Las Vegas, Disneyland, and New Orleans' Mardi Gras. Media institutions, such as CNN, MTV, Fox News, CBC, ARTE, and the BBC, have become fully integrated forms of “infotainment”: commodified installations of reality television and celebrity ethos that merge subjectivity with consumer culture. This global merger of ubiquitous image and subjectivity creates a “spectacular” society. Spectacular society, according to Debord, is an apparatus of fabricated social relations in which institutions socialize people by manipulating their relationship to images; it is a reified world where ...

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