Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitanism, Consumerism, and Television in a Neoliberal Age

Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitanism, Consumerism, and Television in a Neoliberal Age

Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitanism, Consumerism, and Television in a Neoliberal Age

Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitanism, Consumerism, and Television in a Neoliberal Age

Synopsis

What does it mean to be a "citizen" today, in an age of unbridled consumerism, terrorism, militarism, and multinationalism? In this passionate and dazzling book, Toby Miller dares to answer this question with the depth of thought it deserves. Fast-moving and far-ranging,Cultural Citizenshipblends fact, theory, observation, and speculation in a way that continually startles and engages the reader. Although he is unabashedly liberal in his politics, Miller is anything but narrow minded. He looks at media coverage of September 11th and the Iraq invasion as well as "infotainment"-such as Food and Weather channels-to see how U. S. TV is serving its citizens as part of "the global commodity chain." Repeatedly revealing the crushing grip of the invisible hand of television, Miller shows us what we have given up in our drive to acquire and to "belong."For far too long, "cultural citizenship" has been a concept invoked without content. With the publication of this book, it has at last been given flesh and substance.

Excerpt

Increasing numbers of citizens… do not belong. This in turn
undermines the basis of the nation-state as the central site of
democracy.
—Stephen Castles and Alistair Davidson, Citizenship and
Migration: Globalization and the Politics of Belonging

We have no idea, now, of who or what the inhabitants of our future
might be. In that sense, we have no future. Not in the sense that our
grandparents had a future, or thought they did. Fully imagined
cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which “now”
was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so
abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents'
have insufficient “now” to stand on. We have no future because our
present is so volatile.
—Hubertus Bigend, founder of the Blue Ant advertising agency*

I'm a citizen of nowhere and sometimes I feel mighty homesick.
—Joshua Logan, Paint Your Wagon (1969)

WHY CITIZENSHIP, and why now? When I started talking about citizenship to people interested in cultural and social movement activism twenty years ago, they often seemed either disturbed or bored. “What is this rapprochement with the state?” “Why refer to universal concepts when there should be a focus on specific forms of oppression and rights?” and “Is this about social control achieved through civics?” were representative—and bowdlerized — responses. Within a decade, such talk had passed, because the term had gained currency in political discussion and academic research. This happened for two main reasons: First, various oppositional formations had splintered. Marxists were criticized by feminists, Global Southists, and others who questioned class position as the principal axis of social suffering and critical agency. The collapse of dictatorship in Latin

*William Gibson, Pattern Recognition (New York: GP Putnamís Sons, 2003).

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