The Drama of Social Life: Essays in Post-Modern Social Psychology

Young, T.R.
ISBN:
9780887382024

These essays explore the many ways theatre and dramaturgy are used to shape the everyday experience of people in mass societies. Young argues that technologies combine with the world of art, music, and cinema to shape consciousness as a commodity and to fragment social relations in the market as well as in religion and politics. He sees the central problem of post-modern society as how to live in a world constructed by human beings without nihilism on the one hand or repressive dogmatism on the other. Young argues that in advanced monopoly capitalism, dramaturgy has replaced coercion as the management tool of choice for the control of consumers, workers, voters and state functionaries. Young calls this process the 'colonization of desire.' Desire is colonized by the use of dramaturgy, mass media, and the various forms of art in order to generate consumers, vesting desire in ownership and display rather than in interpersonal relationships with profound consequence for marriage, kinship, friendship and community. This gives rise to an ugly post-modern morality; moral action ceases to be mediated by self-other relations and is mediated by possession and use of commodities. While Young focuses his critique on capitalist societies undergoing great changes, he insists that the same developments are to be found in bureaucratically organized socialist societies. As social forces of self become untenable, other nonsocial source of self become attractive to the questing individual: body shape, body decorations, clothing fashions, astrological signs, Eastern religions as well as ownership of goods and the use of exotic services. Out of this quest for selfhood comes post-modern expression of music, art, dance, architecture as well as religion: highly variable, highly personal, and richly creative; often emancipatory but often hostile to common needs or to community. The Drama of Social Life will be of interest to those interested in theories of moral development, cultural studies, the uses of leisure, politics, or simply the uses of make believe and just pretend. It is intended for the informed lay public as much as for social psychologists. Editorial Reviews From the Publisher "In this distinctive work, Young's aim is to describe an "emancipatory critical dramaturgy" that flows from the postmodernist project of rebellion at the "mass society" of capitalist enlightenment... Young's writing is lively, and his topics are interesting... [F]ascinating and creative project. Highly recommended for academic libraries, community college level up." --S. G. Mestrovic, Choice

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