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Democracy in the Age of New Media

The Politics of the Spectacle

Tauel Harper

In the age of the spectacle, democracy has never looked so bleak. Our world, saturated with media and marketing, endlessly confronts us with spectacles vying for our attention: from Apple and 9/11 to Facebook and the global financial crisis. Democratic politics, by comparison, remain far from engaging. A society obsessed with spectacles results in a complete misfiring of the democratic system.
This book uses critical democratic theory to outline the effects of consumer culture on citizenship. It highlights the importance that public space plays in creating the critical culture necessary for a healthy democracy, and outlines how contemporary ‘public’ spaces – shopping centres, the Internet, social networking sites and suburban communities – contribute to this culture. Terrorism, ecological destruction and the financial crisis are also outlined as symptoms of the politics of the spectacle. The book concludes with some basic principles and novel suggestions which could be employed to avoid the pitfalls inherent in our spectacular existence.


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Credits for Lyrics and Artwork viii


Credits for Lyrics and Artwork Cover Art: UNTITLED by ERIN COATES pencil and paint on photographic print © 2010 Erin Coates Chapter 3 epigraph: PANIC By STEVEN MORRISSEY and JOHNNY MARR © 1986 MORRISSEY AND MARR SONGS LTD. All rights for the world controlled by WARNER BROS. MUSIC LTD. All rights administered by WARNER-TAMERLANE PUBLISHING CORP. All Rights Reserved Used by Permission Copyright ©1986 MARR SONGS LTD. and BONA RELATIONS LTD. All rights for MARR SONGS LTD. in the U.S. and Canada Controlled and Administered by UNIVERSAL-POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING, INC. All Rights Reserved Used by Permission Reprinted by permission of Hal Leonard Corporation Chapter 4 epigraph: TIME TO PRETEND by ANDREW VANWYNGARDEN and BEN GOLDWASSER Copyright © 2010 Sadguitarus Music (SESAC) / Old Man Future (SESAC) Worldwide rights for Sadguitarus Music and Old Man Future administered by BMG Silver Songs (SESAC) All Rights Reserved Used by Permission Chapter 7 epigraph: LET DOWN By THOMAS EDWARD YORKE, JONATHAN RICHARD GUY GREENWOOD, PHILIP JAMES SELWAY, COLIN CHARLES GREENWOOD and EDWARD JOHN O'BRIEN © 1997 WARNER/CHAPPELL MUSIC LTD (PRS) All Rights Reserved Used by Permission Conclusion epigraph: WORLD LEADER PRETEND By WILLIAM BERRY, MICHAEL STIPE, PETER BUCK, and MIKE MILLS © 1988 NIGHT GARDEN MUSIC (BMI) All Rights on Behalf of NIGHT GARDEN MUSIC (BMI) Administered by WARNER-TAMERLANE PUBLISHING CORP. (BMI) All Rights Reserved Used by Permission

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