Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Periodization and Culture

I'm intrigued by some of the periodization schemes that have come up in this week's reading, particularly in the Galloway article. Regardless of whether the theorists he cites are talking about social or cultural epochs, they all seem to define the periods they study based on the mechanisms or models through which power functions. Combining some ideas from Foucault, Kittler, and Galloway, we have the narrative scheme "sovereign -> disciplinary -> control." Classical cultural studies scholarship (classical as in 1960s-1990s), however, has consistently labeled the model of power during that time period (the latter half of the twentieth century) "hegemonic." Hegemony is a model under which power functions through consent as much as through coercion; think of, for example, the simple examples the rise of television, junk food, and American neocolonialism. Would this period fit between disciplinarity and control? I certainly feel that it could. In the control society, power lies in the ability to control flows and circulations of information, a notion distinct from that of hegemonic power. Do the theorists we read dismiss hegemonic power as too brief an historical moment to be recognized, or do they reject the idea entirely, or is it subsumed under one of their other rubrics?

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