The Cultural Contradictions In Modern Capitalism Cultural Studies Essay

Categories: CapitalismPhilosophy

Cultural Contradictions in Capitalism '' by Daniel Bell is regarded as an inspiring work of mastermind which has the power to redefine how we think about the relationships amongst civilization, societal alteration and economic sciences. Born on May 10th 1919 in Brooklyn New York City, Daniel Bell is a celebrated sociologist act uponing American political and economic constructs through his books `` The End of Ideology '' and `` The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society '' and is acknowledged as the `` prophesier of the outgrowth of a new society '' ( Walters 2003 ) .

First published in 1976, Bell foretells such later prevailing theories as the relationship of capitalist economy and civilization as manners of production and ingestion, station structural linguistics, deconstruction, and however rather accurately `` The underlying job... ( of the ) ... dissolution in the really discourses - the linguistic communications, and the ability of a linguistic communication to show an experience '' ( Bell 1978 ) . Likewise he argues that modernism has reached its crisis point, and that the values that supported capitalist economy in the first topographic point will finally vanish.

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The purpose of this essay is to measure whether Bell was right in reasoning that there are `` Cultural Contradictions '' in modern Capitalism.

In his book 'Cultural Contradictions in Capitalism ' , Daniel Bell maintains that the boundless thrust of modern capitalist economy undermines the moral foundations of the original Protestant moral principle that ushered in capitalist economy itself. In other words, Bell contends that late capitalist economy undermines the really values that in actuality spawned it. Basically, the prosperity produced by America 's market economic system had become its undoing.

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The unprecedented richness of the sixtiess had generated hedonism that undermined the authoritative Protestant virtuousnesss of temperateness and forbearance, which had long underwritten capitalist economy. ( Siegel 2007 ) . Bell noted that `` the civilization was no longer concerned with how to work and accomplish, but with how to pass and bask '' . Furthermore, he continued to claim that by the 1950 's, American society had become basically hedonic, focussed with `` drama, merriment, show and pleasance - and typical of things in America, in a compulsive manner ( Bell 1978: 70 ) .

Siegel noted that for Bell, `` the Marxist Democrat, the moral heritage of the businessperson tradition was seemingly exhausted. It seemed that capitalist economy had, in ways unanticipated by Marx, chopped down the tree in which it had nested. Except, to the surprise of many progressives and conservativists, the tree non merely continued to stand, it grew taller and thicker as new subdivisions sprouted in the post-1989 globalized economic system '' ( Siegel 2007 ) .

In add-on, this analysis asserts that capitalist economy and the civilization it creates harbours the seed of its ain ruin by making a demand among successful people for personal satisfaction - a demand that corrodes the work moral principle that led to their success in the first topographic point. Basically, it notes that there is so a contradiction in the Centre of capitalist economy. In the yesteryear there was integrity and civilization which provided a clear counsel. However, in modern-day civilization non merely is at that place no longer a moral codification but it is simply opinionated, faddy and self-indulgent. In order to full appreciation and reply this essay inquiry, it would intend I would hold to foremost understand capitalist economy, what the term means and entails and in add-on I would hold to look into Bells Hagiographas and his thoughts on Culture in order to measure if he was right in reasoning that there are `` Cultural Contradictions in Modern Capitalism '' .

It has frequently been noted that Sociology as an academic subject began mostly as a critical commentary on capitalist economy. The outgrowth of modern, society-wide capitalist economy in Western Europe in the ulterior parts of the 18th century was accompanied by `` deep societal transmutations, including a dramatic rise in urban, and hence extremely seeable, poorness. In add-on, the rise of capitalist economy is inseparable from the Industrial Revolution ( Ritzer, 2007 ) .

Capitalism is defined by Giddens as `` an economic system based on the private ownership of wealth, which is invested and reinvested in order to bring forth net income ( Giddens, 1989: 735 ) .

Contradiction is a term used by Marx to mention to reciprocally counter inclinations in a society ( Giddens, 1989: 337 ) .

Specifying civilization is complex however due to the fact that it has different readings and significance. Sociologists and anthropologists likewise use the term 'culture ' as `` a corporate noun for the symbolic and learned, non biological facets of human society, including linguistic communication, usage and convention by which human behavior can be distinguished from that of other Primatess '' ( Abercrombie et. al 1988: 59 ) . On the contrary, Billington et. Al in Giddens identified `` at least two mundane, commonsensible significances '' of civilization which included the 'best ' accomplishment and merchandises in literature, art and music. The second was `` the unreal growing or development of microscopic beings or species of programs, a intending derivation from a much older use of the verb 'to cultivate ' : significance hubby, and originally mentioning to agricultural techniques '' ( Giddens. 2004:17 ) . It is deserving adverting Bells reading of what Culture is:

- '' Culture, for a society, a group, or a individual, is a continual procedure of prolonging an individuality through the coherency gained by a consistent aesthetic point of position, a moral construct of ego, and a manner of life which exhibits those constructs in the objects that adorn one 's place and oneself and in the gustatory sensation which expresses those points of position. Culture is therefore the kingdom of esthesia, of emotion and moral tempter, and of the intelligence, which seeks to order these feelings. '' ( Bell. 1978: 36 )

Bell claimed that society was divided into three kingdoms: Techno-Economic, Polity and Culture. Techno-Economic he noted `` is concerned with the organisation of production and the allotment of goods and services. It frames the business and stratification system of the society and involves the usage of engineering for instrumental terminals '' . The civil order `` is the sphere of societal justness and power: the control of the legitimate usage of force and the ordinance of struggle '' . Culture was explained as the `` sphere of expressive symbolism: those attempts, in picture, poesy and fiction, or within the spiritual signifiers of litany, Holy Eucharist, and ritual which seek to research and show the significances of human being '' ( Bell 1978.11-12 ) .

For most of Modernity the Techno-Economic System was the beginning of alteration.

The Cultural system operated to back up the Techno - Economic System was underpinned by Protestantism as Protestant Ethic was regarded every bit work as an terminal in itself and the Puritan Temperament was the committedness to an orderly and ascetic manner of life.

In add-on there was a Transformation of art -which meant people floating off from stating truths about the human status but so reproducing tradition. This meant that art now invariably seeked invention and esthesis, which can be described as the daze of the new.

The primary contradiction as good comes between the demands of the Techno-Economic system for the credence of rationalised work subject & A ; the Cultural kingdom based on personal hedonism and immediate satisfaction. The cultural contradiction of capitalist economy is that capitalist economy simply started of as a extremist and terrible signifier of Protestantism, with a unequivocal and imperative accent on rejecting the corporate Catholic tenet which dominated in the yesteryear.

Protestantism developed a new attitude towards wealth, in relation to its beliefs and thoughts. Protestants stressed the importance and necessities of prosecuting excellence and perfect criterions with grim individuality and thrust. But this badness made the originally extremist construct of capitalist economy finally become conservative in footings its morality.

Mass ingestion, which commenced during the 1920 's, began due to the progresss in engineering `` chiefly the application of electrical energy to the house clasp undertakings '' - this included contraptions such as chainss, Hoovers, rinsing machines. The development of marketing `` rationalized the art of placing different sorts of purchasing groups and quickening consumer appetencies '' . In add-on, mass production on an assembly line made it possible for inexpensive autos. Recognition and the handiness of recognition and instalment purchasing were cardinal to mass ingestion due to the fact that recognition undermined the orderly and ascetic life. Instalment purchasing more than anything `` broke down the old Protestant fright of debt '' . ( Bell 1978: 66 )

Bell noted that advertisement and selling cultivated the consumers taste. Ad is a powerful tool in marketing trade names, merchandises, people and thoughts. America was more likely one of the first big graduated table states to construct cultural alteration into its society.

Ad redefines accomplishment in footings of capacity to devour instead than capacity to bring forth. Bell noted that advertisement besides worked in different ways.

- '' The advertisement in the adult female 's magazinesaˆ¦was to learn people how to dress, supply a homeaˆ¦ . Though at foremost the changed were chiefly in manners, frock, tasteaˆ¦sooner or subsequently they began to impact more basic forms: the construction of authorization in the household, the function of kids and immature grownups as independent consumers in society, the form of ethical motives, and the different significances of accomplishment in the society '' ( Bell 1978:69 ) .

There were new signifiers of communications due to the developments of engineering, which included the film, or gesture image as Bell referred to it as and the wireless. Bell besides distinguished the Transformation of uneasiness, which meant that 1s individuality no longer came from their household origins or place life but from personal experience, contemplation and orientation. Bell suggested that vehicles, the gesture image, and wireless were all technological in beginning. However, advertisement, planned obsolescence, and recognition were excessively all sociological inventions and he regarded that the most extraordinary thing about advertisement was that it was so permeant. ( Bell 1978: 68 ) .

The Protestant work moral principle is most attributed to the work of Max Weber and in his Hagiographas which include The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1902. For Weber, faith was a beginning of cultural significances, which people constructed their individualities in effort to happen significance to their existent. He distinguished the tendencies to reason in modern society, accidentally encouraged by Protestantism, as taking to a turning sense of 'disenchantment with the universe ' ( Taylor et. al 2004: 507 ) .

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is founded upon the impression that the Calvinist accent on the necessity for difficult work is proponent of a individual 's naming and worldly success is a mark of personal redemption. It has been argued that Protestants had reconceptualised worldly work as a responsibility which benefits both the person and society as a whole Protestantism emphasized the liberty and independency of the persons instead than the dependance on the Church priesthood and rites ( Abercrombie et. al 1988: 198 ) . Therefore, the Catholic thought of good plants was transformed into an duty to work diligently as a mark of grace.

In the book, Weber traced the beginnings of the Protestant ethic back to the times of the Reformation. The Roman Catholic Church assured and promised redemption to persons who accepted the church 's sacraments and those who respected and obeyed the clerical authorization. However, the Reformation had efficaciously removed such confidences and with it brought a scope of beliefs and thoughts which challenged the Catholic impression of redemption.

'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism ' is strictly an penetration and apprehension of Weber 's thoughts on faith and economic sciences. Weber argued that Puritan moralss and thoughts influenced the development of capitalist economy. However spiritual devotedness was normally accompanied by a rejection of worldly personal businesss which included such things which were regarded as 'sin ' or immoral such as the chase of wealth and ownerships. Weber stated that capitalist economy in northern Europe evolved when the Protestant moral principle influenced a big sum of people to prosecute in work, in the procedure constructing up their ain foundations and possibilities and prosecuting in trade and the accumulation of wealth for investing. Likewise, the Protestant moral principle was a force behind an unplanned and uncoordinated mass action that influenced the development of capitalist economy. This thought can besides be referred to as `` The Weber thesis '' . Weber, nevertheless, rejected deterministic attacks, and presented the Protestant Ethic as simply one in a figure of 'elective affinities ' taking toward capitalist modernness.

Bell noted that the Protestant ethic `` emphatic work, soberness, frugalness, sexual restraint, and a dour attitude towards life '' . The beginning of the contradiction of capitalist economy in American life he attributed it to `` the dissolution of the traditional businessperson value system '' which was `` brought approximately by the businessperson economic system - by the free market '' ( Bell 1978: 50 ) .

Reasoning this essay, it is apparent to admit that Daniel Bell 's `` The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism '' was originally published in order to knock the dominant American premise that capitalist economy promoted individuality.

It is necessary to indicate the fact that `` The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism '' was written during the 1970s, shortly following the societal turbulence of the sixtiess. Bell was seeking to do sense of the new societal alterations which were taking topographic point and to boot what they meant for the freshly emerging society. However, his work has been criticised, claiming that he disregarded and did non decently analyze how the jobs for illustration originating in authorities would impact other rules. Mentioning from the article, Abraham declared that `` cultural contradictions in modern capitalist economy is naA?ve in its geographic expeditions of how cultural systems operate '' ( Abraham 1977 ) .

Bell argues that there is an so a contradiction in the Centre of capitalist economy. He understood that capitalist economy had come to advance standardisation and had created corporate bureaucratisms every bit powerful as churches or province bureaucratisms of the yesteryear. Furthermore, Bell alleged that the countercultural reaction to capitalist economy was besides misguided, as capitalist economy had begun with the Protestant work moral principle, and its spirit of individualistic asceticism, Puritanism, and the freedom from Church institutional authorization.

This moving ridge of Protestant freedom and independency easy extinguish, and this value was taken over by the Modernists, and so feebly by that of the 'counterculture ' . Counterculture is a sociological term used to picture the norms and values of behaviour of a cultural group, or subculture, that opposing thoughts of those of the societal mainstream and constituted civilization, in this instance young persons.

In relation to America, Bell noted that the America 's capitalist economy had lost its transitional legitimacy, which had been based on a moral system of wages rooted in the Protestant sanctification of work. ( Bell 1978: 84 ) .

This progressed to make the imposed criterions of big corporations and province bureaucratisms. In response to what came to be seen as the businessperson values, the cultural beliefs of Modernism began to react against capitalist values and celebrated the map of civilization as a sort of misgovernment, instead than a capitalist order. Even so, Capitalistic Protestantism came to deny its original individualistic ethos, and this worth of individuality was taken over by creative persons and even anti-capitalism.

To reply this inquiry and conclude this essay, Bell was right in reasoning that there were cultural contradictions. In his ain words `` The interplay of modernism as a manner developed by serious creative persons, the institionalization of the those played-out signifiers by the `` cultural mass '' , and the hedonism as a manner of life promoted by the marketing systems of concern, constitutes the cultural contradiction of capitalist economy '' ( Bell 1978: 84 ) .

Updated: Aug 30, 2021
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The Cultural Contradictions In Modern Capitalism Cultural Studies Essay. (2021, Aug 02). Retrieved from

The Cultural Contradictions In Modern Capitalism Cultural Studies Essay essay
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