a personal touch given to the message by the receiver

In attempting to redefine a contemporary cultural critic Brian Holmes’ article in Noema magazine analyizes ..

cultural studies constituted a veritable school on the intellectual left, developing a strategic intention. However, its key theoretical tool was the notion of a differential reception, or “negotiated reading” – a personal touch given to the message by the receiver.

His development of thoughts towards a critical reading of the ‘flexible personality’ gives an interesting overview about sources and development of critical cultural practice.

“We lack a serious history of co-optation, one that understands corporate thought as something other than a cartoon,” writes the American historian and culture critic Thomas Frank (19). In a history of the advertising and fashion industries called The Conquest of Cool, he attempts to retrieve the specific strategies that made sixties “hip” into nineties “hegemon,” transforming cultural industries based on stultifying conformism into even more powerful industries based on a plethoric offer of “authenticity, individuality, difference, and rebellion.” With a host of examples, he shows how the desires of middle-class dropouts in the sixties were rapidly turned into commodified images and products. Avoiding a simple manipulation theory, Frank concludes that the advertisers and fashion designers involved had an existential interest in transforming the system. The result was a change in “the ideology by which business explained its domination of the national life” – a change he relates, but only in passing, to David Harvey’s concept of “flexible accumulation.” (20) Beyond the chronicle of stylistic co-optation, what still must be explained are the interrelations between individual motivations, ideological justifications and the complex social and technical functions of a new economic system….
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