New PDF release: American Culture and Society since the 1930s

By Christopher Brookeman

ISBN-10: 0333294149

ISBN-13: 9780333294147

ISBN-10: 1349175676

ISBN-13: 9781349175673

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197). The same process ofmaterialist demystification that lust represents can be seen in the way anthropology, in its pursuit of a scien tific understanding of man and his cultures, re legates Christianity from the status of a theological spiritual system to that of a detritus ofprimitive cults that mixes 'a vegetation-myth' (GWT, p. 95) with solar and phallic myths. The shift in Ransom's thought away from a controlling commitment to Southern Agrarianism to an acceptance ofscientific modes of analysis can be traced in The World's Body, a collection ofhis literary criticism.

Both these traditions see mass culture as transmitting distorted consciousness through the use of repetitive stereotypes and mechanical narrative farmulae. The effects of mass culture are to induce passive alienation and anomie into the mass audience, and to exclude the majority of people from active participation by manipulating an artificial consensus of beliefs. Implicit in both the conservative and Marxist critiques is the assessment that the joint processes of industrialisation and mass democracy, of which mass culture is a product, reinforce a rationalisation and dehumanisation of all farms of social and personal being into systems that destroy the autonomy of the majority while allowing a degree of individuality to privileged groups.

Also the process of rationalisation that industrial democracy intensifies is not wholly detrimental and contains a contradictory promise: The fallen nature of modern man cannot be se para ted from social progress. 6 The pessimism of T. S. Eliot and Dwight Macdonald is clearly different from the notion of the contradictory promise of industrial capitalism developed by the Frankfurt School theorists. This opening sketch of reactions to mass culture would not be complete without mention of a diverse group of sociologists and anthropologists who began to study mass society using a range of investigative techniques derived from three main sources: opinion polling and marketing research, anthropological field work, and psychoanalytic testing strategies derived from Freud.

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American Culture and Society since the 1930s by Christopher Brookeman

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