THE SOCIAL METAPHOR OF THE HUMAN BODY:The Spectacle As a Tool of Alienation. The Situationists and Their Heritage
Łukasz Iwasiński 1 1 - Uniwersytet Warszawski MAeS 2015; 16 (1): ICID: 1150845 Article type: Original article IC™ Value: 3.00
Abstract provided by Publisher
In the Marxist tradition social relations mediated by the market are the source of alienation.
Alienated individuals are deprived of their subjectivity, they become a passive instrument
of capital. For Marx, the principal instrument of alienation was commodified
work, while for post-Marxist thinkers like the Frankfurt School – it was also consumption.
The Situationists go further – according to them the whole social reality is alienated. Under capitalism it changes into spectacle. The spectacle imposes artificial, reified social
relations, inhibits all creativity and spontaneity, and deprives individuals of the ability to
actively shape reality, thus stripping people of the fundamental aspects of humanity.
The paper discusses the category of spectacle coined by the Situationists. It indicates
the possibilities of its application to the analysis of a contemporary culture dominated by
consumption and based on images. Situationist concepts and their interpreters are also
present in reflection on the problem of the relationship between alienation and communicative
technologies. The issue of disalienating (emancipating) potential of forms of communication
developed in the networked society and their impact on consumer empowerment
is widely discussed nowadays. The ideas developed by the Situationists and their
heirs, presented in the paper, may be useful for its analysis.