Archive for the ‘Essentialism’ Category

By Jhansher Khan

What interests me primarily at this point and something that I can see the effects of on a daily basis is hyperconsumption. As we went over this is Dr.Strangelove’s CMN 2160 class, I grew more interested and wanted to explore this to a further extent. He raised many questions I was particularly interested in, the fact that corporations may be able to regulate everything we do or say. Will we lose free speech and our ability to voice our own opinions? Also, to be human is also to question attributes in our environment and assign ideas of what is right and what is wrong. We all speak our opinions, but what if our voices were marginalized and we had to resort to listening to one power with no other alternatives to turn to? Dr.Strangelove brought up this point during his lecture on January 18, 2010. It then had me thinking, what if corporations moved far beyond the production of goods and shifted into an age of control and Tyranny? This is just a speculation, that may or may not occur in decades from now.

We live in an advertising age full of corporations, tempting us to consume, never leaving us with that taste of satisfaction. We must consume, we are never satisfied with what we currently have, we want what is better than the “leading brands.” We work even harder so we have enough money to consume more. Not satisfied with a fully functional 20 inch TV screen, why not get something bigger? Its obvious we don’t absolutely need it, but it would be nice to have something that serves its function much better than the previous versions of essentially the same piece of technology produced on a larger scale. So the idea of replacement is at hand here, whereas improvements are always being made. Therefore, the idea of “change” is at hand.

Lets address one of Harold Innis’s ideas regarding “essentialism,” whereas the world is unchanging and stagnant. This viewpoint introduces the idea that society woul remain “fixed” and “permanent.” In the world we live in today, change is inevitable though. In a book entitled, “The Toronto School of Communication Theory:Interpretations, Extensions, Applications,” it states, “Essentialist and fundamentalist movements organized and stood up to the dominance of the leaders, financers and prophets of global culture, economy and polity, sustained in their resistance by the universe of little media.”(81). To further verify what is being stated here, the idea is that while society did evolve and change, certain groups of society sustained the idea of “essentialism”, whereas they were resistant to change that was occuring. However, dominant powers in society advocate for change constantly. Innis was strongly opposed to the idea of “essentialism” which was widely advocated for in the 1950’s, whereas ideas of society remained stagnant and those in society itself weren’t widely aware of change that was occuring. It is a very “old” way of thinking, where ideas of advancing technological change isn’t advocated for. Innis was one of the few people during his time to actually question the idea of the conventions of  an”essentialist” society and tried to advocate for the idea that society changes due to new innovations.

The question arises out of this, whether or not change is positive or negative. It depends on multiple perspectives when addressing this idea, since it could potentially be both positive and negative. For example, the negative aspect could be too much of control could result over society by corporations if this trend of consumerism continues. An example of a positive aspect would be the idea of technological change which allows us to perform tasks faster than ever before. Therefore, there are two sides to this issue of “change” and Innis was one of the first to question change.


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