Consumer/citizen

This discussion came up in a drama course about cultural adaptation. The topic of the lecture was an effort to place ourselves and our current world into a cultural context in order to understand the kind of art we make and the kind of world we’re making it  for. The thoughts are still bouncing around in my brain, so I thought I’d share some questions with the wider world:

First, do we live in a society that is destroying the individual’s sense of citizenship/national identity in favour of an identity as a worldwide consumer, a citizen of the global marketplace? If so, are our generations’s civil rights and human rights movements seeking inclusion for marginalized groups in advertising and marketing rather than in traditional modes of citizenship? Consider the suffragettes in America at the beginning of the 20th century, seeking the vote for women. In the 1960s Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for basic civil and human rights for the African-American community. Today, the queer community’s fight for equality could be said to match those equal rights movements of the past, but has our definition of ‘equal rights’ changed? How do we see ourselves fitting into –or, more importantly, not fitting into–the world around us? IF the basic currency of citizenship has changed from one of politics to one of consumption, then the fight for equal rights for any marginalized group has changed drastically.

Are the fighters of our era–the queer community, for example–seeking to be marketed to? Is that desire at the root of inequalities in our society? Think about the ads we are constantly bombarded with: most of them reflect a very mainstream ideal of beauty and success in hopes of reaching the largest possible consumer audience. What about minority consumer audiences? How are they represented in marketing? And, in a world where the consumer reigns over the citizen, does whether or not you (or your social/economic/religious/sexual group) get marketed to determine your status in society?

 

Just my musings for the day…would love to hear the wider world’s thoughts on this…

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