The Consumerist ‘Politics of <i>Jouissance</i>’ and the Fantasy of Advertising

Yannis Stavrakakis

in The Lacanian Left

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780748619801
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672073 | DOI:
The Consumerist ‘Politics of Jouissance’ and the Fantasy of Advertising

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The enjoyment factor is not only important in explaining why certain discourses stick for long historical periods and others fail to attract; it also underlies successful projects of social, cultural and political change. A manipulation of enjoyment of this sort lies behind the enormous success of consumerism and the capacity of advertising discourse to hegemonise modern culture. It is commonplace today to argue that advertising and branding constitute hegemonic discursive tropes in late modernity. It is, moreover, the case that advertising discourse and political marketing are increasingly colonising the political space, which leads to a de-democratisation of liberal democratic institutions. At the same time, however, it is also obvious that up until now the critique of consumerism and advertising has failed to reach a degree of sophistication and rigour that would enhance its effectiveness and social relevance. An encounter with certain Lacanian insights can benefit enormously the whole field of the analysis and critique of consumerism and advertising. Most importantly, it can illuminate the profound socio-political implications of consumer culture, whose hegemony seems to mark the passage from a society of prohibition to a society of commanded enjoyment.

Keywords: Consumption; Consumerism; Hegemony; Prohibition; Commanded enjoyment; Spirit of capitalism

Chapter.  11602 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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