by Georgina Rowlands







As you look at the screen, it is possible to believe you are gazing into eternity, says an absent, artificial female voice in the beginning of Jon Rafmans NSFW Still Life (Betamale) (2013) video. You see the things that were inside you. This is the womb, the original site of the imagination. You do not move your eyes from the screen, you have become invisible.

Still Life (Betamale) confronts some of humanitys newer and more obsessive activities, all things that may be unique to the web (though we?re never sure). The video sets the stage with shots of disgustingly lived-at computer desks covered in bits of food and cigarette ashes, surrounded by energy drinks and dirty dishes. The main character, the fat man with panties covering his face, pointing two guns at his own head, is leading us on a nearly psychosis-inducing stream of various types of fetish and subculture porn  some of the webs darkest and strangest corners. This is not the safe and corporate internet of Facebook or Google; Still Life (Betamale) is drawn from the visually overloaded world of 4chan, as obsessively browsed by a man who lives in his mothers basement.




Player Piano, the first novel of Kurt Vonnegut, was published in 1952. It depicts a dystopia of automation, describing the deterioration it can cause to quality of life. The story takes place in a near-future society that is almost totally mechanized, eliminating the need for human laborers. This widespread mechanization creates conflict between the wealthy upper class—the engineers and managers who keep society running—and the lower class, whose skills and purpose in society have been replaced by machines. The book uses irony and sentimentality, which were to become hallmarks developed further in Vonnegut's later works






Cultural hegemony

In the Marxist tradition, the Italian writer Antonio Gramsci elaborated the role of ideology in creating a cultural hegemony, which becomes a means of bolstering the power of capitalism and of the nation-state. Drawing on Niccolò Machiavelli in The Prince, and trying to understand why there had been no Communist revolution in Western Europe, while it was claimed there had been one in Russia, Gramsci conceptualised this hegemony as a centaur, consisting of two halves. The back end, the beast, represented the more classic, material image of power, power through coercion, through brute force, be it physical or economic. But the capitalist hegemony, he argued, depended even more strongly on the front end, the human face, which projected power through 'consent'. In Russia, this power was lacking, allowing for a revolution. However, in Western Europe, specifically in Italy, capitalism had succeeded in exercising consensual power, convincing the working classes that their interests were the same as those of capitalists. In this way revolution had been avoided.

While Gramsci stresses the significance of ideology in power structures, Marxist-feminist writers such as Michele Barrett stress the role of ideologies in extolling the virtues of family life. The classic argument to illustrate this point of view is the use of women as a 'reserve army of labour'. In wartime it is accepted that women perform masculine tasks, while after the war the roles are easily reversed. Therefore, according to Barrett, the destruction of capitalist economic relations is necessary but not sufficient for the liberation of women.


Tarnow[11] considers what power hijackers have over air plane passengers and draws similarities with power in the military. He shows that power over an individual can be amplified by the presence of a group. If the group conforms to the leader's commands, the leader's power over an individual is greatly enhanced while if the group does not conform the leader's power over an individual is nil.


For Foucault real power will always rely on the ignorance of its agents; with the discovery and emergence of Biopower, and Biopolitics a biological and political technology of its population, highlights this fact. No single human, group nor single actor runs the dispositif (machine or apparatus) but power is dispersed through the apparatus as efficiently and silently as possible, ensuring its agents do whatever is necessary. It is because of this action that power is unlikely to be detected, so remains elusive to 'rational' investigation. Foucault quotes a text reputedly written by political economist Jean Baptiste Antoine Auget de Montyon, entitled Recherches et considérations sur la population de la France (1778), but however, turns out to be written by his secretary Jean-Baptise Moheau (1745–1794) and by emphasizing Biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck who constantly refers to Milieus as a plural adjective and sees into the milieu as an expression as nothing more than water air and light confirming the genus within the milieu, in this case the human species, relates to a function of the population and its social and political interaction in which both form an artificial and natural milieu. This milieu appears as a target of intervention for power according to Foucault which is radically different from the previous notions on sovereignty, territory and disciplinary space inter woven into from a social and political relations which function as a species (biological species).[12]


Stewart Clegg proposes another three-dimensional model with his "circuits of power"[13] theory. This model likens the production and organizing of power to an electric circuit board consisting of three distinct interacting circuits: episodic, dispositional, and facilitative. These circuits operate at three levels, two are macro and one is micro. The episodic circuit is the micro level and is constituted of irregular exercise of power as agents address feelings, communication, conflict, and resistance in day-to-day interrelations. The outcomes of the episodic circuit are both positive and negative. The dispositional circuit is constituted of macro level rules of practice and socially constructed meanings that inform member relations and legitimate authority. The facilitative circuit is constituted of macro level technology, environmental contingencies, job design, and networks, which empower or disempower and thus punish or reward, agency in the episodic circuit. All three independent circuits interact at "obligatory passage points" which are channels forempowerment or disempowerment.

Gene Sharp

Gene Sharp, an American professor of political science, believes that power depends ultimately on its bases. Thus a political regime maintains power because people accept and obey its dictates, laws and policies. Sharp cites the insight of Étienne de La Boétie.

Sharp's key theme is that power is not monolithic; that is, it does not derive from some intrinsic quality of those who are in power. For Sharp, political power, the power of any state – regardless of its particular structural organization – ultimately derives from the subjects of the state. His fundamental belief is that any power structure relies upon the subjects' obedience to the orders of the ruler(s). If subjects do not obey, leaders have no power.

His work is thought to have been influential in the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic, in the 2011 Arab Spring, and other nonviolent revolutions.

Björn Kraus

Björn Kraus deals with the epistemological perspective upon power regarding the question about possibilities of interpersonal influence by developing a special form of constructivism ("Machtanalytischer Konstruktivismus").[16] Instead of focussing on the valuation and distribution of power, he asks first and foremost what the term can describe at all. Coming from Max Weber's definition of power, he realizes that the term of power has to be split into "instructive power" and "destructive power".:105:126 More precisely, instructive power means the chance to determine the actions and thoughts of another person, whereas destructive power means the chance to diminish the opportunities of another person. How significant this distinction really is, becomes evident by looking at the possibilities of rejecting power attempts: Rejecting instructive power is possible – rejecting destructive power is not. By using this distinction, proportions of power can be analyzed in a more sophisticated way, helping to sufficiently reflect on matters of responsibility.:139 f. This perspective permits to get over an "either-or-position" (either there is power, or there isn't), which is common especially in epistemological discourses about power theories, and to introduce the possibility of an "as well as-position".




Superchannel is a network of local studios used by people and communities as a discussion forum, presentation medium and a physical gathering place. It is a tool that enables you to produce internet TV engaging users in the creation and evolution of content. Superchannel started at a time where interactive live streaming was far from commonplace. The first experiment was carried out at Artspace 1%, Copenhagen. The second studio opened in 2000 in Coronation Court, a tower block in Liverpool. Since then more than 30 studios opened in very different locations. WhileSuperchannel stopped to be active in 2005, some of the studios, such as Tenantspin, continue to be active using other media platforms for production. Superchannel.org is a collaboration between SUPERFLEX and Sean Treadway.












The actual physical components in the Installation are arbitrary and can be interchanged, the space is purely social and is intended to receive the contents of my text and video work.

The space consists of:

  • three pieces of carpet,
  • a large legless arm chair,
  • bean bag's made of sacks found in Hoxton ('Royal Mail' and '25 Coconuts')
  • the pink chair (with recycling bag cushion)
  • a wooden pallet, with carpet, a chair and small placemats
  • a mobile tea tray with coffee, cups, and a kettle
  • two lockers, which form benches  

All 'objects' within the instlaation are intended for use, and throughout my collecting of these objects have been heavily used by members of the studio, all pieces are mobile and can be interchanged. 

Despite altering these objects in some way to interact in an interesting way  when assembled into my 'reading room' (such as painting the found chair pink and using blues and greys) all objects derive from the outer contexts. These relate to my purposeful placement of the objects in front of the window facing Waitrose. The colours selected have polticial conetations such as the blue referencing the police force and pink as an act of defiance within the context of leftism and feminist activism. These relate to how the 'subclass' is made arbitrary when represented via media and also rioting and activism as defiance. I use footage of police, particularly from the BBC documentary 'Painting the town Blue' 1997 a documentary about Merseyside police in Birkenhead. Many of the shots used feature the police locker rooms featuring bold blue lockers. I found and used very similar lockers (tilting them on their sides as functional benches) in my work to MATERIALIZE these images and issues. Similarly the sacks, one Royal Mail the other a Coconut sack relate to working class labour. the Coconut sack found outside a corner shop selling produce and the mail sack found near the Royal Mail warehouse. The skinless armchairs recalls a memory of walking through the squats made of the abandoned council estates of Birkenhead north as a child, appropriated furniture used by the homeless in their makeshift capsules under overpasses.




    • RIOT (footage of riots and media coverage of riots)
    • POLICE (media coverage of police and sousveillence)
    • CHAVS (media coverage of chavs/low culture benefits street poverty porn)
  8. SET UP LIVESTREAMS FOR MONDAY (beck road, kings cross studio,storage container)



'No judgement of taste is innocent. In a word, we are all snobs. Pierre Bourdieu brilliantly illuminates this situation of the middle class in the modern world. France’s leading sociologist focusses here on the French bourgeoisie, its tastes and preferences. Distinction is at once a vast ethnography of contemporary France and a dissection of the bourgeois mind.

In the course of everyday life people constantly choose between what they find aesthetically pleasing and what they consider tacky, merely trendy, or ugly. Bourdieu bases his study on surveys that took into account the multitude of social factors that play a part in a Frenchperson’s choice of clothing, furniture, leisure activities, dinner menus for guests, and many other matters of taste. What emerges from his analysis is that social snobbery is everywhere in the bourgeois world. The different aesthetic choices people make are all distinctions—that is, choices made in opposition to those made by other classes. Taste is not pure. Bourdieu finds a world of social meaning in the decision to order bouillabaisse, in our contemporary cult of thinness, in the “California sports” such as jogging and cross-country skiing. The social world, he argues, functions simultaneously as a system of power relations and as a symbolic system in which minute distinctions of taste become the basis for social judgement.'



A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste




Shameless was never a straightforward TV drama.

It wasn’t dreamt up by some upper-class snob, serving up caricatures of the “lower orders” for the ridicule of Middle England. The creator was Paul Abbott, who grew up as a working-class boy in Burnley. It was a turbulent childhood, too, including a suicide attempt, being sectioned and then placed into foster care. His background is a striking contrast with the privately educated and pampered who dominate the TV industry.

Neither did Shameless, the final episode of which is broadcast next week, pan out as originally intended. Abbott’s pitch “was substantially autobiographical”, according to George Faber, who helped to produce the programme. He conceived it as a “very downbeat and grim” single film, but that didn’t seem to work. Instead of being a gritty reflection on his early life, it was reworked to make people laugh.

The characters are not one-dimensional or in some sort of 21st-century Hogarth either. They live pretty chaotic lives, but they are generally clever, complex and witty. Lip – the eldest son of anti-hero Frank Gallagher, and so nicknamed for being “a bit of a gobshite” – charges classmates for finishing their homework, and ends up at university.

Whingeing about shows like Shameless can risk coming across as dour or po-faced, or as complaints from oversensitive but rather patronising middle-class types. It’s just a bit of TV entertainment watched by people from all backgrounds, many would say; it’s not supposed to be some grand political statement. And the real problems with Shameless were never to do with the programme itself – but rather the sort of society we live in.

We don’t just live in a chronically unequal country: we live in a highly segregated one, too. Because the council housing sold off under right-to-buy was not replaced, the remaining stock became prioritised for those most in need: estates like the community portrayed in Shameless almost became treated as a social dumping ground by successive governments. We’re now a long way from Nye Bevan’s dream that council housing would support mixed communities, replicating “the lovely feature of the English and Welsh village, where the doctor, the grocer and the farm labourer all lived on the same street”.

What this means is that large chunks of society simply don’t mix with people from council estates. The only interaction many have with them is through TV screens and newspapers. The larger-than-life, intentionally comic characters of the Chatsworth estate become the whole reality. There aren’t programmes portraying normal people on council estates just getting on with their lives to balance out the likes of Shameless. There is, however, an ample amount of media coverage and reality TV shows dedicated to hunting out the most extreme examples to pass them off as the tip of the iceberg: the feckless, the workshy, the scrounging.

Fictional shows such as Shameless and Little Britain are even seized on by journalists to pass them off as real life. When Karen Matthews kidnapped her daughter in 2008 in an attempt to extort money from the tabloid press, her West Yorkshire community – believing the child had been snatched by a stranger – rallied together: raising money, printing leaflets. And yet, to their understandable upset, The Sun referred to them as “a real-life version of the smash hit Channel 4 series Shameless”. A YouGov poll a few years ago revealed that most people in the television industry believed Vicky Pollard was an accurate representation of the “white working class”.

And so TV shows have proved highly effective in softening up public opinion to support slashing the welfare state. It’s not some intentional grand conspiracy: of TV producers smoking large cigars with Tory ministers while they plot together about how to grind the faces of the poor into the dirt. It’s just that TV commissioners tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds, and are interested in sensationalism to attract viewers. And so we’ve ended up with poverty porn – the latest being Channel 4’s Skint – that helps build the image of an undeserving, beer-swilling, drug-taking poor, sticking their fingers up at the taxpayers they’re living off.

The reality, tragically, remains far from our screens. Most people in poverty are in working households. One in six workers have claimed jobseeker’s allowance in the past couple of years, most for just a few weeks. The desperation for work is so intense that there are now 45 people chasing every low-skilled job. Charities report parents skipping meals to make sure their kids are fed. Studies show that it is middle-class people – not the poorest – who consume the most alcohol, and are more likely to suffer from obesity. You would never know this from our TV screens and newspapers. The reality is airbrushed out of existence in favour of the extreme and the grotesque.

There are people in this country who can’t be bothered to work, who’d prefer to scrape by on the measly benefits that exist, who run amok on booze and drugs. The point is they are the exception, not the norm. But they are constantly hunted down by ratings-hungry TV producers and cynical journalists.

Shameless has had a good run. But what our TV screens need is a new wave of drama showing the reality of British life in an enjoyable way. It would mean working-class writers and producers who can break into the middle-class closed shop of the media. A challenge, to say the least. But one, I hope, that will be taken up.

Owen Jones is the author of ‘Chavs: the Demonisation of the Working Class’

Twitter: @owenjones84



  1. 2 LOCKERS
  2. 3 TVS
  6. STOOL



Some introductory comments from the Angry Workers of the World
Dear libcom crew,

Thanks a lot for inviting us to be interviewed! The answers to your questions are below, but before we start, we would like to take a moment to question your questions! They mainly focus on our collective from the point of view of AngryWorkers as 'workplace organisers’. While this is one of the main things we try to do, it is not the only thing. We think this workplace ‘pigeonholing’ reflects a more general problem within the UK radical left: namely, a separation between ‘organising activities’ and ‘revolutionary debate or strategy. As a small collective, we try to bring these essential elements of working class organisation closer together by:

  • gathering experiences and strengthening workers’ self-organisation in workplaces and in the area;
  • reflecting on these experiences within the wider context of class relations, state politics, technological changes, crisis - as part of the research and debate about the changing class composition and the question of revolutionary breaking points[1]
  • trying to encourage both reflection of working class experiences and debate within the non-statist left on an international level, in our case through discussions around the ‘social strike’ with Plan C or with the IWW about Amazon organising[2]
  • taking a ‘local responsibility’ to circulate internationalist positions (e.g. on war and migration) and practical experiences of workers’ elsewhere within the area where we live and work. We try and do this mainly through our political newspaper, WorkersWildWest.[3]

We take inspiration from groups like Big Flame and Solidarity in the UK in the 1970s, Potere Operaio in Italy and The Sojourner Truth Organisation and League of Revolutionary Black Workers in the US in the same period who, at the same time as 'getting their hands dirty' in working class jobs, used these experiences as a foundation upon which to have political and strategic debates and discussions. These discussions were based on real-life necessities of organising and class struggle experiences rather than beard-stroking pontificating. While we try to encourage direct actions at the workplace, we would not hide our internationalist or revolutionary outlook, but try to relate it closely to our workplace experiences.

Our day-to-day little steps within the industrial suburb happen against the background of a wider discussion about the changes in production and distribution and the re-emergence of bigger workplaces, e.g. Amazon, Walmart distribution centres etc.[4] For us this debate was not sectorial, meaning, focusing merely on the logistics sector, but about the changing nature of the working class and work in general. We reckoned that the boundaries between production and distribution were becoming blurrier e.g. a lot of warehouses also process the goods they circulate. Companies like DHL are directly involved in manufacturing automobile plants. Workers involved cannot develop a professional pride based on individual skills, but largely rely on general social experiences: how to operate computers, electronic gadgets, how to cooperate and communicate with workers from all kind of migration backgrounds. Therefore we hope that struggles in this sector can develop power not only because of the size of workplaces and their strategic locations, but also generalise and affect other workers. We don’t struggle as a specific professional group, we all deal with minimum wages and zero-hour contracts, we all have the anti-migrant propaganda on our heads. We think that revolutionaries’ main task is to think about how struggles in the centres of exploitation (bigger workplaces, developed regions) can relate to more atomised areas of working class existence (the domestic sphere, crisis-ridden areas, unemployment) and mutually strengthen each other.

The explosive revolutionary contradiction of capitalism is the fact that an increase of social productivity goes hand in hand with mass impoverishment - but these experiences of high productivity and impoverishment are not evenly distributed within the global working class. Where and how does a class movement evolve that makes the two poles of the contradiction touch and blow things up? For this we need strategic discussions and revisions of old concepts, such as class composition or the theory of ‘uneven development’.

We also need a debate about ‘revolutionary transition.’ In other words, how can a working class in revolutionary situations:
a) Redistribute existing resources in order to level out regional disparities and

b) Undermine the division of labour between manual and intellectual workers, production and domestic workers, rural and urban, infantile and elderly workers as quickly as possible?

This is not a mental trick, this will require a trillion tons of metal to be shifted around and millions of walls to be torn down and rebuilt - a major logistical effort! Whoever thinks that in order to do that those workers who currently work in greenhouses, hospitals, factories, care homes, transport, energy, communications and demolition squads won’t play a specific and scientific role is either a dumb middle-class jerk or a Stalinist who thinks that the party state will solve all this, or both.

Some people will say this is all too speculative and pre-emptive, why talk of revolutionary moments now when we look around us and see that working class self-activity is at a low ebb? But without this strategic thinking, communism remains a pipe dream, something we have already given up on. Discussing these ideas in the context of our shop-floor organising efforts forces us to take a global and broader outlook, beyond the pay deal, to how different groups of workers, within the UK and beyond, can relate to each other. Our role of revolutionaries to facilitate this will then have some direction and vision beyond the ‘mobilisation for the next march’.

Political events or the wider crisis impact on what is happening at workplaces and vice-versa. So it makes sense to discuss these issues in relation to ‘on-the-job’ stuff and not see it as occupying a separate ‘political’ realm, which is distinct from the ‘economic’, so-called bread-and-butter issues of workers. We have therefore tried to encourage a debate about the current stage of crisis in the UK amongst militants of various groups, by visiting people in different towns and inviting them to a meeting in Liverpool in 2014. This seemed very difficult and somehow confirmed that ‘political debate’ and ‘organising activities’ are treated as two separate issues. If we want to figure out the revolutionary potential of our day-to-day organising, we need a clear view of the bigger picture: how strong is the enemy, how divided are our forces? In the UK the main dividing lines within the working class are evolving around a) home ownership and to what degree workers’ are included or excluded from the housing bubble and b) the question of migrant status and whether your access to benefits and to certain segments of the labour market pressure you into the low wage sector. These dividing lines are tested within the working class itself, but they are mainly influenced by ‘big politics’: the development of global real estate finance, the refugee crisis, the sclerosis of the EU. This just gives an example of why we think this debate about the crisis is necessary, also and mainly for ‘workplace activities’.

Within the radical left there is a certain intellectual laziness when it comes to discussing revolutionary strategy: some people retreat into a mystical insurrectionalism and find sophisticated philosophical excuses for it (large parts of the communisation folks); others hope that some technological leap and the ‘creative elite’ will lead us to communism (Mason, accelerationists) - one of us currently works in a 3D-printer manufacturing plant, we can only tell our techno-fetish friends: wake up, guys, the real future out there ain’t no playground, but bad precarious sci-fi!; others shy away from the question of how struggles can generalise by overcoming material barriers between them and instead propose old patronising-lefty formulas of ‘political demands’ (minimum guaranteed income etc.) or electoral tactics (Corbyn). In the face of this we can understand that people ‘just want to focus on organising’, on some ‘honest syndicalism’ without all this political mess attached, and some cry into their anti-intellectual beer, but that won’t cut it either.




Manual for


Producing, transmitting and receiving radio on Svalbard 1999.

N55 works with art as a part of everyday life.

N55 is a platform for persons who wants to work together, share places to live, economy, and means of production. 
N55 is based both in Copenhagen, and in LAND.

Production / distribution:

N55 has its own means of production and distribution. 

Manuals for N55 things are published at www.N55.dk and in the N55 periodical. Furthermore, N55 things are implemented in various situations around the world, initiated by N55 or in collaboration with different persons and institutions. All N55 works are Open Source provided under the rules of Creative Commons as specified here. Any use of N55´s works must include proper credits to N55 and a link to www.N55.dk.

N55 is financed by selling durable, environmentally and socially sustainable products, based on homemade Open Source systems and by exhibitions, grants and educational work.

N55 suggests respecting conditions for description: logical relations and facts, as a basis for politics. 
Ideologies, religions, subjective opinions, social conventions, and habitual conceptions do not necessarily respect conditions for description. 
An example of a decisive logical relation is the logical relation between persons and their rights. Persons should be treated as persons and therefore as having rights. If we deny this assertion it goes wrong: here we have a person, but this person should not be treated as a person, or: here is a person, who should be treated as a person, but not as having rights. Therefore we can only talk about persons in a way that makes sense if we know that persons have rights. 
An example of a decisive fact is that concentrations of power characterise our society. Concentrations of power do not necessarily respect person's rights. 
Concentrations of power force persons to concentrate on participating in competition and power games, in order to create a social position for themselves. Concurrently with the concentrations of power dominating our conscious mind and being decisive to our situations, the significance of our fellow humans diminishes. And our own significance becomes the significance we have for concentrations of power, the growth of concentrations of power, and the conflicts of concentrations of power. It is decisive that persons try to find ways of existing with as small concentrations of power as possible.

In 1994 a non-commercial exhibition space and lab was initiated in Nørre Farimagsgade 55, Copenhagen. N55 grew out of this collaboration. In 1996, a number of persons started living together in an apartment located in the center of Copenhagen, trying to "rebuild the city from within" and using their everyday life situation as a platform for public events and collaborations. In the year 2000 FLOATING PLATFORM and N55 SPACEFRAME were constructed in the harbour area. N55 SPACEFRAME served as a starting point for local initiatives and interventions, a workspace and living space until 2003 when two of the participants left N55 ( list of former paticipants here). In 2005 co-founder of N55 Ingvil Aarbakke died. N55 continues activities locally and elsewhere in collaboration with various persons. Currently the N55 studio is situated in Burmeistergade 10,1429 kbh k, Copenhagen, Demark. 

See updated biography at www.N55.dk/CV.html


TO DO 23.5.16



The Mill Co. Project is a social enterprise scheme in the heart of East London?s thriving creative community. Our studios are conveniently located in Hackney between Shoreditch, Dalston and Islington with more spaces coming soon in Seven Sisters.

We have formed co-operative environment in which the the independent community can thrive, providing affordable workspace where independent artists can work together and collaborate.  We also provide workshops, shoot, gallery and event space, providing an inspirational alternative to working from home or a cafe.

The Mill Co. Project is run by Claire Martin & Nick Hartwright and is the sister organisation to Mill Co.  a collective and full service creative agency made up entirely of independent design specialists, many of whom are based at The Mill Co. Project studios.

We run regular workshops at both Mandarin Wharf & The Rose Lipman Building, hosted by our residents and community members in various creative disciplines from writing and illustration to film and photography etc.
We also run Arts Awards every Wednesday evening at the Rose Lipman. Visit our Arts Awards page for more info.




Good afternoon!

My name is Georgina Rowlands, I am a BA Fine Art Student in Central Saint Martins - University of the Arts London, my artistic practice includes working with communities and using teaching and education as a tool to give back to communities through free workshops. 
I am currently working on a Broadcasting workshop, where members of the public will be able to use my platform to broadcast whatever they would like - crafts, performance, music, dance. Through a public access media platform. 
I am also working on free collaborative publications and 'zine' workshops, where members of the public are invited to submit essays, poetry, photography and artwork to publications which will be distributed to participants.
I am particularly interested in the members of the De Beauvoir area as I live nearby and would be interested in possibly housing one or more of these workshops in your community centre in De Beauvoir Town. These workshops would be free to the public and all materials and equipment would be provided by me and the University. 
I would love to involve you and your wonderful organisation in my projects as I deeply admire your continued involvement in the De Beauvoir area and your role in integrating artistic practice into the local community.
Thanks for reading,
Best wishes,
Georgina Rowlands


Stephan Dillemuth sees art and its distinct qualities as a tool for research and critical reflection of the circumstances of contemporary life. With its inherent methods of reflection, analysis, and experimentation, art, he believes, creates beauty, but it also has the potential to change society. His inquiry into recent changes in the idea of the public sphere takes place against the backdrop of our globalised, localised and fragmented publics. Here we can see  historical trajectories of liberation, e.g. those of bohemia, lebensreform and self-expression intersecting with new technologies of surveillance and control in order to establish a new ideology of 'freedom' as a totalitarian rule. What are the conflicts at hand? 


You Have Been Misinformed with Stephan Dillemuth. 2008

Reinterpreting some of the formal elements of an obsolete modernist plaza in NYC?s financial district ? 77 Water Street ? the artists invoked some of the more glamorous days of Manhattan, when arts and financial markets started with a certain optimism to weave the global fabric. Plopped into the ?plaza? is an installation of video fragments that recreate articles and quotes from the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune as performance pieces reporting on art finance, the credit crunch and the new class of mega-rich art patrons. The video was filmed on site in the Wall Street area and on the waterfront under the George Washington Bridge.











  • publication
  • 'reading room' installation
  • videos
  • livestream element


SUPERBLOCK - bbc3 colaboration with TenantSpin

What is Superblock?

The year is 2040, and Superblock is a 1,470 floor tower block built from the salvaged concrete and bricks of the 67 Liverpool high rises demolished in 2005.

It is an echo chamber reverberating with voices, memories, love, hate, birth, death, mystery, gossip and rumour, like a monstrous filing cabinet full of the filed lives of everyone who ever lived there.

It is the architects last ever visit to his broken utopia because this is the day the building is condemned...

How was Superblock developed?

Superblock was developed with tenants of the Liverpool high rises, FACT and the BBC. 1500 questionnaires have been sent to all the tenants and their extraordinary responses have fed directly into the drama.

Writer Jeff Young, the BBC's Kate Rowland and the tenants that inspired it will be in attendance at FACT on the 19th March, 2.00 - 3.00pm, to discuss the project. All are welcome to attend.

Listen to an interview with tenant Jim Jones, and with the writer of the drama, Jeff Young.

A radio project with the Liverpool-basedFoundation of Art and Creative Technology[FACT] centred around the remaining 67 towerblocks in Liverpool. The majority of the 67 are earmarked for demolition in the near future.

Listen to a discussion set in the year 2020.

Watch the video of the demolition of the Shiel Park tower block, Liverpool. This footage was shot by Karen Browne. 

Fantasy - or reality?

Says towerblock tenant Jim Jones, "Theres a tremendous degree of disempowerment which pervades society today. I think Superblock draws into focus the extent of that which would occur if it was left unchecked."

"I think the reality of Superblock is within issues being decided on behalf of people without their involvement, and without proper feedback on the effectiveness of those decisions taken. The fantasy attached to Superblock is not that much removed from reality."

"The concept of having a 14,000 floor building is probably the only piece of fantasy - but if that 1,400 floor building is broken into chunks and dotted around the city, then that's exactly what we have now."

Writer Jeff Young describes how consultations with existing residents, particularly the elderly, helped shape the final result:

"The same mistakes will be made"

"For me, working on Superblock over the last 12 months has meant that I’ve been able to tell a story in an unusual and imaginative way that is about very real lives and problems."

"What quite often happens is that people of that [older] generation are only asked to look to the past. And so what’s come out is a very strange and surreal piece of drama that actually tells stories about the real world; about things that are not that far removed from people’s experiences of living in tower blocks today."

"I don’t necessarily think that 40 years in the future things will be that different. We’re going to have a lot of the same problems because the same mistakes will be made."



Social turn was first used in 2006 to describe the recent return to socially engaged art that is collaborative, often participatory and involves people as the medium or material of the work

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  • Jeremy Deller The Battle of Orgreave 2001 still frame
    Jeremy Deller
    The Battle of Orgreave 2001
    Colour video
    Still frame

The term was coined by the art historian Claire Bishop in her 2006 essay The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents.Art that operates under the umbrella of social turn tends to happen outside museums or galleries, although this it not always the case. Because much of the art is collaborative and focuses on constructive social change, it is rarely commercial or object based – two things that are seen as elitist and consumerist.

Often when discussing social turn the filmmaker, writer and founder of situationism Guy Debord is alluded to for his promotion of a participatory art in which he wished to eliminate the spectator’s position.

An example of social turn would be Tennantspin 1999, an art work by Superflex in which they devised an internet TV station for the elderly residents of a Liverpool housing project.

Related glossary terms



Download COMPRESSED.mp4 [20.23MB]










Ruins aims to bridge Greece’s urgent political moment with visuals of great aesthetic value. Started as a fashion magazine, but in light of all the things that were happening in Greece last summer Ruins quickly evolved into a publication more about politics than clothing. ‘‘A lot of the editorials are done in Greece, using all the natural light that is unavailable in London. The magazine is a mix of both worlds, North and South,” says Christos Petritzis, editor of Ruins.

The first issue, named ‘growth euphoria crisis’, explores the place of fashion, culture and spectacle within the context of a world in recession. “The idea that our resources are running out, and the instabilities and finitude of the global capitalist system have been exposed in this process.” Petritzis continues,‘‘The fashion imagery of Ruins confronts crisis and does not want to retreat to nostalgia, which is what most fashion magazines are currently doing – referencing the aesthetics of 90s-00s market euphoria and economic stability’’.


?. RuinsCourtesy of Ruins Magazine





When I was 13 it was habitual to watch spotty teens ‘scrap’ in the carpark of Beb High, the shit secondry school of Wirral South (the one you went to after failing the 11+). Why we were SO into watching chavvy boys hit eachother is beyond me, if that was 2016 we would definatly snapchat those scenes to our mates, video it and put it on youtube. When I grew up I experienced the exact same phenonina but instead I was sat in my living room as two toothless crackheads scream at eachother about abortions and robberies on the Jeremy Kyle show.

Some call it ‘Poverty Porn’, a form of social sadism where we rip into those who fail to take part in Camerons Britian, a Britain whose free market means seething individualism requires us to throw ourselves up the social ladder into fully formed members of the middle class. I too am Beb High educated  currently attending a dead fancy London art school, and subsequently participating in the Waitrose fed neo-liberal hell that is the Capital. Summed up by my Beb High mate Kat, who moved to London at the same time as me and now talks with a full on southern accent. What do we mean when we talk about the dreaded LOW CULTURE, other than our use of it in our artful ‘SCULPTURAL ASEMBLAGES’.

‘Benefits Street’ was a glorified social experiment by Channel 4 dicumenting the ecomoic and social condictions of residents in a street in Birmingham. Where apparently about 90% of people claim benefits (the ABSOLUTE horror), the show displayed the brummie scum showing us how they shoplift, and totally abuse our ‘too generous ‘beneifts system. With the general overriding themes of how bloody dependent on the walfare system these people were, while they lack any motivation to even find work.

This was nothing short of conservative propaganda, making us fall for the capitalist myth that the WAY too generous social benefits system allows the DISGUSTING poor to totally abuse us NOBLE TAXPAYING WORKERS. The chavs just don’t want to find work, they cant be bothered they are way too busy with their illegal activies and FIGHTING and doing DRUGS and having millions of babies on their SINK esates. because the chavs, like the muslims and the immigrants are just inheritnly EVIL. I don’t know about you but its very clear to me that these people actually cant even find work in the first place, especially in places like Birmingham and pretty much any industrial town which Thatcher totally stamped all over with her crazy extremist tory feet 

I know from my very own begginings that when Camell Lairds the shipbuilders in Birkenhead who made major ships like the HMS Unicorn went bust people, loads and loads of people including my uncle Keith were unemployed for AGES. there was no where else which suited his skillset, literally no other jobs about that would take him, he ended up eventually moving to France to a shipbuilders there were he became an alcoholic and killed himself, probably because he felt so displaced.  BUT WHATEVER work anywhere!! Work in a shop or in a office!! Do anything for money!!

Why are we so forced to drag ourselves through literal hell just to make minimum wage? The identity of the industrial worker, like my Uncle kieth who had a deep feeling of pride within thier job and got to see their glorious ship sailing out of the proud river Mersey helping industry and the military. Their identity is validated, one of Marx’s arguments about communism was that under that structure people can actually SEE the effect of their role in society, rather than the GO GO GO capitalist free market where hundreds of people do tiny shit jobs like putting the cap on a bottle thousands of times a day and feel no gratification, feel no sense of pride and instead develop RSI in their wrists.

I don’t know but with a deep hatred of this system I would rather fucking abuse benefits than put a cap on a bottle ever single second of the day. Even so through increased developments in computerization factories are being mechanized so you don’t even have a place there to put a fucking cap on a bottle because now a robot is doing it for you.  SORRY! now the only job for you here is to operate the robots which you require an actual degree in robotics , which you blatently don’t have because you are an industrial worker from somewhere in the midlands and in the 80s they told you you didn’t need a degree! you cant exactly go back to uni now because you cant afford to pay 27 grand so, sorry about that!

No fucking wonder these people are dwelling in total social decay. They have lost their entire identities as their indusrial work is moved over to China and India. The lads who fight in the carpark of Beb High, do it because they are really pissed off because their families are really poor, they live on Nocturim estate where people literally get shot and stabbed, they don’t have any prosperity because their whole family history has been wrecked by the decline of industry AND left everyone unemployed, their mum is never there because she has to work really really intense hours as a cleaner for some shit office somewhere. So they are really fucking angry and scared. 

But here we find ourselves clambering our way up the ladder, dragging our depleated bodies up the greasey rungs on the towering structure, many fall past us crashing to the ground their bodies mangled as we slip our hands into the mass of tangled limbs grabbing onto the hard marble. The bellowing laughs and smell of smoke echoing from those who made it to the top, who seem like they were always there, birthed there. As we look down we see the bright flames of the orgy of decay, those with broken limbs breed into seething mutated clans, swinging fists. Flames licking our ankles as they grow with time despite climbing for years, our skin turning to hardened carapaces as we face the heighting altitudes,








10 page zine/PUBLICATION

about oligarchy/police/power

referencing ORWELL, FOUCAULT, and also documenting community based effect

talking about capitalism, the free market, and effects of socio-economics,

talking about low culture and the police (using OWEN JONES discussion about police from book: DEMONIZATION OF CHAVS)


derivatives of zine---> POSTERS, WEBPAGE, VIDEOS

what is the point? what is the question?



the INTERSECTIONS of all of these topics 












limited view of humans, showing only few features of their bodies - reduces the human to an object and ultimatly to something which can be abused.



VIDEO: 'PHILOSOPHY - Michel Foucault





Not only is he the father of video art, but Paik is also one of the fathers of modern appropriation art. His best-known works, made in partnership with Jud Yalkut, compressed and electronically distorted mass-media footage of Beatles concerts, presidential speeches, and the like.





Arnold's films are intensely cut sequences in which several seconds of old movie clips are taken and stretched out into much longer works. The figures on the screen flip back and forth between frames, as the motion is repeated, reversed, and numerous single frame cuts are made. His intent is to create, or possibly unearth, narratives concealed within the mundane films from which he samples. In films such as Pièce Touchée (1989) and Passage à l'acte (1993) for example he uses several seconds of the films The Human Jungle and To Kill a Mockingbird, the latter to create a bizarre story of aggression and tension within a traditional American family.


 Birnbaum entered the nascent field of video art in the mid-to-late 1970s challenging the gendered biases of the period and television?s ever-growing presence within the American household. Her oeuvre primarily addresses ideological and aesthetic features of mass media through the intersection of video art and television. She uses video to reconstruct television imagery using materials such as archetypal formats as quizzes, soap operas, and sports programmes.












Political thought and the postmodern subject

Žižek argues that the state is a system of regulatory institutions that shape our behavior. Its power is purely symbolic and has no normative force outside of collective behavior. In this way, the term the law signifies society's basic principles, which enable interaction by prohibiting certain acts.

Political decisions for Žižek have become depoliticized and accepted as natural conclusions. For example, controversial policy decisions (such as reductions in social welfare spending) are presented as apparently "objective" necessities. Although governments make claims about increased citizen participation and democracy, the important decisions are still made in the interests of capital. The two-party system dominant in the United States and elsewhere produces a similar illusion. Žižek says that it is still necessary to engage in particular conflicts—such as labor disputes—but the trick is to relate these individual events to the larger struggle. Particular demands, if executed well, might serve asmetaphorical condensation for the system and its injustices. The real political conflict for Žižek is between an ordered structure of society and those without a place in it.

In stark contrast to the intellectual tenets of the European "universalist Left" in general, and those Jürgen Habermas defined as postnational, in particular, Žižek spares no efforts in his clear and unequivocal defense of the pro-sovereignty and pro-independence processes opened in Europe.

Žižek argues that the postmodern subject is cynical toward official institutions, yet at the same time believes in conspiracies. When we lost our shared belief in a single power, we constructed another of the Other in order to escape the unbearable freedom that we faced. For Žižek, it is not enough to merely know that you are being lied to, particularly when continuing to live a normal life under capitalism. Although one may possess a self-awareness, Žižek argues, just because one understands what one is doing does not mean that one is doing the right thing.

Žižek has said that he considers religion not an enemy but rather one of the fields of struggle. In a 2006 New York Times op-ed he made the argument for atheism, arguing that religious fundamentalists are, in a way, no different from "godless Stalinist Communists." He argued that both value divine will and salvation over moral or ethical action.



merseyside police bein told straight ( we do not need to do wot they say )

Merseyside Police leave with there tails between there legs with the Bailiff







'Ryan Trecartin?s sculptural and installation work incorporates a cast of dozens. Conceiving each show as an experiment in theatrical production, Trecartin conceives loose plots as a basis for collaborative endeavour. Working with a posse of his close mates, Trecartin delegates responsibility: inviting his friends to participate in the creative process, respond to his ideas, and contribute their own input and artwork. Through this unorthodox way of working, Trecartin?s work becomes an uncanny reflection of youth culture, presenting a Gen Y zeitgeist of commodity anxiety, spiritual nihilism, and community value. '







Hazmat (Hazardous Materials)/HazChem (Hazardous Chemicals) Guide containing information on Supply Labels, Hazard Warning Panels, Hazard Warning Diamonds, Emergency Action Codes and more





The term 'chav' represents someone from a low socioeconomic background, they to be a delinquent, travel in groups, and have a distinct style of dress. 

The male 'chav' or townie originates in my cultural context from the entrapment of masculine culture, Merseyside being once a heavily industrial area, the port and shipbuilding being a major source of employment in the early 21st century. The era of Thatcherism left alot of our population unemployed, with nowhere to turn but benefits due to no viable jobs suitable for a industrial skill-set the modern era of jobs lie in the service sector. Due to this the lower classes have a strong hatred of authority and institution a internal dilemna of purpose and striving masculinity leaves the lower classes in social decay where the rest of the country looks on with prying eyes, reality shows like 'Channel 4s Benefit Street' takes the piss out of the lower classes branding them as lazy and abusive to the system. What does it mean to be working class now? 

I think CHAV culture is a viable counter culture to the police force. 


The boundaries of low culture and high culture blur, through convergence. Many people are "omnivores", making cultural choices from different menus.[3] The 1990s artwork ofJeff Koons appropriate low art tropes of kitsch and pornographyRhys Chatham's musical piece Guitar Trio (1977) is an example of incorporating (low culture) primitive punk rock aesthetics into (high culture) contemporary classical music.

Romanticism was one of the first movements to reappraise "low culture," when previously maligned medieval romances were taken seriously and influenced literature.






Oligarchs during Putin's presidency. The most famous oligarchs of thePutin era include Roman Abramovich, Alexander Abramov, Oleg DeripaskaMikhail FridmanMikhail ProkhorovAlisher Usmanov, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg, Leonid Michelson, Vagit Alekperov, Pyotr Aven, and still Vladimir Potanin and Vitaly Malkin.


TUTORIAL 3.5.2016

In my tutorial today I discussed the work I made in the Kings Cross Residency and the growing development of my research for my UNIT 4 project. I discussed my ideas surrounding the status of objects and relating political structural power to Installation art. I plan to make an installation of objects and a video work that discusses societal concepts such as the Big Society, a conservative plan to restructure power in communities which seemingly devolves power.

'Since 1999, the way the United Kingdom is run has been transformed by devolution - a process designed to decentralise government and give more powers to the three nations which, together with England, make up the UK.The United Kingdom is made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.Devolution essentially means the transfer of powers from the UK parliament in London to assemblies in Cardiff and Belfast, and the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.'

The Big Society The Big Society was a political ideology. developed in the early 21st century. The idea proposes "integrating the free market with a theory of social solidarity based on hierarchyand voluntarism". Conceptually it "draws on a mix of conservative communitarianism and libertarian paternalism". Its roots "can be traced back to the 1990s, and to early attempts to develop a non-Thatcherite, or post-Thatcherite, brand of UK conservatism" such as David Willets' Civic Conservatism and the revival of Red Toryism'


Focusing on this masquerade of socialism in new Conservatism, David Cameron wrote how he wishes to 'test' these strategies in Liverpool; Eden Valley, Cumbria; Windsor and Maidenhead; and the London borough of Sutton. Being from Merseyside I was interested in how his work in Liverpool with effect my area. An area firstly with a strong left political perspective having  recently has been among the lowest in any part of Britain, particularly since the monetarist economic policies of prime minister Margaret Thatcher after her 1979 general election victory contributed to high unemployment in the city which did not begin to fall for many years.

AD gave me the names of some writers and artists who work in Liverpool and create work focusing on Big Society. 

He also told me to look at the work of several artists:

MARK LOMBARDI an American neo-conceptual artist whos work takes the form of drawings that document alleged financial and political frauds by power brokers, and in general "the uses and abuses of power"

ON THE SCRAP HEAP Birkenhead, 1985 documentary


STEPHAN WILLET He lives and works in London. Stephen Willats is a pioneer of conceptual art. Since the early 1960s he has created work concerned with extending the territory in which art functions.

DAVID HAMMONS  is an American artist especially known for his works in and around New York City and Los Angelesduring the 1970s and 1980s.


Red Tory: How Left and Right have Broken Britain and How we can Fix It Paperback – 2 Apr 2010 - Phillip Blond

Liverpool Writers to contact about BIG SOCIETY:

Grace Harrison, Brian Ashton (writer for Mute), David Jacques.






Micheal Dean: Sic Glyphs


Michael Dean works across sculpture, photography, drawing and performance, all of which are rooted in his writing and the publication of his work as text in both exhibition and book form. For his solo show at the South London Gallery, Dean presents a new shore of a text in an installation conceived for the SLG?s main space. Concrete, naked steel reinforcement (rebar) and other do-it-yourself materials invoke the physical reality of contemporary urban surfaces. 

Works are encountered in an intimate experience that centres viewers as protagonists in what the artist describes as a "typographical texty field or a fXXXing? forest? of physically abstracted versions of my writing".  Dean?s explicit intention is for it to matter that it?s you who walks in through the door: that you are so much more than the reader of the text. 

Generously supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, Shane Akeroyd, Vicky Hughes and John Smith and Marco Rossi. 
With special thanks to Herald St.





David Cameron has launched his "big society" drive to empower communities, describing it as his "great passion". In a speech in Liverpool, the prime minister said groups should be able to run post offices, libraries, transport services and shape housing projects. Also announcing plans to use dormant bank accounts to fund projects, Mr Cameron said the concept would be a "big advance for people power". Voluntary groups and Labour have queried how the schemes will be funded. The idea was a central theme in the Conservative general election campaign and Mr Cameron denied that he was being forced to re-launch it because of a lack of interest first time around. While reducing the budget deficit was his "duty", he said giving individuals and communities more control over their destinies was what excited him and was something that had underpinned his philosophy since he became Conservative leader in 2005. "There are the things you do because it's your passion," he said. "Things that fire you up in the morning, that drive you, that you truly believe will make a real difference to the country you love, and my great passion is building the big society." 'People power' The prime minister said community projects would be established in four parts of the UK - Liverpool; Eden Valley, Cumbria; Windsor and Maidenhead; and the London borough of Sutton - as part of efforts to "turn government completely on its head". Each of the project areas - which Mr Cameron said had approached ministers asking to be involved - will be given an expert organiser and dedicated civil servants to ensure "people power" initiatives get off the ground.






Edgar Martins presents a selection of images from his project titled,Siloquies and Soliloquies on death, life and other interludes.  

Martins has worked closely with the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science in Portugal to create the work, which includes challenging images relating to death. Presented are photographs of forensic evidence, archival material and Martins? own reflections.

Whilst upholding respect for the deceased and the bereaved, Martins raises the importance of discussing why our depiction and understanding of death creates tensions when spoken about in public.


Jordan Baseman presents one part of his 2013 exhibition, Deadness. Projected 35mm slides collected by the artist show images taken by families of recently deceased loved ones, or their funerals.

The project explores the historical, cultural and sociological relationship between photographic portraiture and embalming. The embalmer?s attention focuses on preparation for the moment relatives and loved ones view the deceased, to leave the bereaved with a peaceful image and memory of the deceased.

Interviews and discussion are central to Baseman?s creative process, this work focuses on the experiences of Dr John Troyer ? Deputy Director for the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath.  



'flock, drove, herd, pack refer to a company of animals, often under the care or guidance of someone. Flock is the popular term, which applies to groups of animals, especially of sheep or goats, and companies of birds'


Carol Bove



Foucault argues that discipline is a mechanism of power that regulates the thought and behavior of social actors through subtle means. In contrast to the brute, sovereign force exercised by monarchs or lords, discipline works by organizing space (e.g. the way a prison or classroom is built), time (e.g. the set times you are expected to be at work each day), and everyday activities. Surveillance is also an integral part of disciplinary practices. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault argues that modern society is a “disciplinary society,” meaning that power in our time is largely exercised through disciplinary means in a variety of institutions (prisons, schools, hospitals, militaries, etc.).

Governmentality and Biopower

In his later work, Foucault coined the now influential concept of governmentality. According to Foucault, governmentality is the “art of governing,” not simply at the level of state politics, as we generally think of it, but the governing of a wide array of objects and persons such as entire populations at the most abstract level and one’s own desires and thoughts at a more micro level. Foucault was especially interested in how, in contemporary times, the governing of conduct was increasingly focused on the management of populations. Unlike disciplinary power aimed at the training of individual bodies, the management of populations relied on biopower, understood as the policies and procedures that manage births, deaths, reproduction, and health and illness within the larger social body.

Associated Writing out Loud: 
Associated Interactive Readings: 
More on: 

Reading Foucault is always fascinating, but rarely easy. Foucault’s work covers a wide range of institutions, historical periods, and themes, and his theories contain several difficult concepts. Luckily, there are some good introductory texts to help you make your way through. See, for example,

Sara Mills’ Michel Foucault, part of the Routledge Critical Thinkers series:


and Gary Gutting’s blessedly brief Foucault: A Very Short Introduction:


To hear Foucault explain his argument in Discipline and Punish in his own words, check out the clips below:


Foucault challenges the idea that power is wielded by people or groups by way of ‘episodic’ or ‘sovereign’ acts of domination or coercion, seeing it instead as dispersed and pervasive. ‘Power is everywhere’ and ‘comes from everywhere’ so in this sense is neither an agency nor a structure (Foucault 1998: 63). Instead it is a kind of ‘metapower’ or ‘regime of truth’ that pervades society, and which is in constant flux and negotiation. Foucault uses the term ‘power/knowledge’ to signify that power is constituted through accepted forms of knowledge, scientific understanding and ‘truth’:

‘Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint.  And it induces regular effects of power.  Each society has its regime of truth, its “general politics” of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true’ (Foucault, in Rabinow 1991).

These ‘general politics’ and ‘regimes of truth’ are the result of scientific discourse and institutions, and are reinforced (and redefined) constantly through the education system, the media, and the flux of political and economic ideologies. In this sense, the ‘battle for truth’ is not for some absolute truth that can be discovered and accepted, but is a battle about ‘the rules according to which the true and false are separated and specific effects of power are attached to the true’… a battle about ‘the status of truth and the economic and political role it plays’(Foucault, in Rabinow 1991). This is the inspiration for Hayward’s focus on power as boundaries that enable and constrain possibilities for action, and on people’s relative capacities to know and shape these boundaries (Hayward 1998).

Foucault is one of the few writers on power who recognise that power is not just a negative, coercive or repressive thing that forces us to do things against our wishes, but can also be a necessary, productive and positive force in society (Gaventa 2003: 2):




Emotional Supply Chains explores how a fluid sense of self is fabricated in our digital present via a supply chain of objects, ideas and experiences. Although we increasingly interact within 'virtual'  space, this remains bound to tangible locations and circumstances. The exhibiting artists reflect on the tensions between confinement and escape, happiness and anxiety, and presence and absence. The exhibition is structured into three parts, each exploring aspects of contemporary identity: the dualities of self, the performed and networked self, and origins and renewal.

prominant pieces include:


    On 20 January 2012, on the request of the FBI, New Zealand police raided the Auckland mansion of Kim Dotcom, founder of file-sharing websites Megaupload and Megavideo, who stands accused by US authorities of copyright infringement, amongst other charges.

    The fulcrum of the exhibition The Personal Effects of Kim Dotcom is the list of items taken in this raid, which is pinned to the gallery wall. Here are 110 items: including bank accounts, luxury cars, artworks, TVs, computer servers, video cameras, and domain names. Each of these items is represented as an A0 digital print, produced by Simon Denny in collaboration with designer David Bennewith. The gallery is also filled with 3D representations of the items: toy versions of the luxury cars, wooden sculptures of the TVs, real TVs, copies of the seized artworks, and similar versions of the jet ski and motorbike.

    Much of Denny's recent work has circled around the evolving rhetoric and culture of the technology industry. The very title and focus of the exhibition, based on the fact that Denny simply downloaded the list of items off the Internet and Dotcom?s enthusiastic collusion with the media, highlights the issues as stake. The Personal Effects mines the Dotcom narrative for its morphing relationship between the physical and digital, and the increasing tendency of digital technologies to erode the borders of an original 'thing? as well as the concept of ownership.

    Korakrit Arunanonchai recently opened an installation at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, which tells the story of the formation of a painter. Themes of identity, history and the cultural impact of globalization and technology are united in his bold exploration of the commonalities found through artistic expression.
    I particularly liked the seating arrangement for the video, which comprised of massives piles of painted cushions, where the viewers comfortably lay.
    ?a project to redefine and start a new art practice. Each part ? Death, Purgatory and now Rebirth ? I actually carry out in real life...? The work consists of two parts: ?The Body? and ?The Spirit.? ?The Body? is made up of large denim body paintings that are only fully visible from a bird?s eye view. ?The Spirit? is a video in which the artist converses with the protagonist of the story, Chantri.'



'The one thing we share?exhaustion?makes us an inoperative community, an exhausted community, or a community of the exhausted.' Jan Verwoert

Use/User/Used/ is an exhibition that explores the effects of 24/7 working culture and questions societal pressures to continuously perform. The show presents works from the Zabludowicz Collection alongside new live performance and dance commissions. Together these examine the exhaustive and depletive consequences of a network culture that emphasizes increasing productivity and efficiency in both work and leisure time. Collectively, the works reflect on what it means to be exhausted as a physical body, as a mental state, and as a material resource.




The fate of groups is bound up with the words that designate them.
(Bourdieu, 1984)

Aust[ralian] election public sick of public sector workers and phony welfare scroungers sucking life out of economy. Others nations to follow in time.
(Rupert Murdoch tweet 2013)

Benefits Street, made by Love productions, is a six-episode reality television programme first screened on the 6th of January 2014 on Channel Four. The ten-second opening sequence begins with a camera panning over the rooftops of a row of terraced houses, a generic ‘view from above’ which establishes from the outset ‘the voyeurism of one class looking at another’ (Higson 1996:152, see also Lovell 1996 and Tyler 2011). As the shot pans across the roofs, a woman’s voice calls out the word ‘unemployed’ in a soft Birmingham (Brummy) accent. The shot then cuts to street-level, a young woman, dressed in a hooded top, jeans and a baseball cap appears, filmed from behind she is walking down a street, pointing to individual houses, while she chants in unison with a man (who is off camera),  ‘unemployed, unemployed, unemployed’. Then an elderly male voice with a Caribbean lilt begins speaking off camera, ‘You see this street here, James Turner Street’. The film cuts again, and the camera pans across the street revealing three men, two of them are smoking in the doorway of a house, a third, his face pixelated, approaches them in a hooded sports top. This is followed by a rapid cut to a shot of a large pile of domestic waste in the street, split black plastic rubbish sacks lie under a tree spilling their contents across road and pavement as children play nearby. Chants of ‘unemployed, unemployed’ punctuate this sequence of visual shots. The elderly male narrator then appears in the frame, speaking directly to camera in extreme close up, he finishes his sentence ‘this…used to be one of the best streets …. now…one of the worst’.

Henry Giroux argues that the contemporary life is characterised by a `biopolitics of disposability` in which `poor minorities of color and class, unable to contribute to the prevailing consumerist ethic, are vanishing into the sinkhole of poverty in desolate and abandoned enclaves of decaying cities [and] neighborhoods’ (Giroux, 2007, p. 309). In the UK, politicians have diagnosed this condition as ‘Broken Britain’:  an ‘ideological displacement’ which as Emma Dowling and Davie Harvie argue, enables ‘structural conditions of a deep social, political and economic crises’ to be imagined as problems of ‘individual behaviours’ (Dowling, et al., 2014 p. 872) . Through this ‘rhetorical device’ the actual deepening precarity of the working classes is narrativised as a ‘moral crises’ (Dowling, et al., 2014 p. 872).

The opening sequence of Benefits Street transports its audience into this powerful political imaginary. From the programmes title, Benefits Street, through to the splicing of images of rubbish strewn streets, unattended children, loitering youths, cigarettes and alcohol, hooded tops and baseball caps, punctuated by a soundtrack of ‘unemployed, unemployed, unemployed’, the audience is instructed to reimagine the welfare state as a ‘benefits culture’, which impoverishes citizens, feeds addictions and creates what government ministers such as Iain Duncan Smith have described as fatal dependencies amongst ‘those trapped in its clutches’ . As a headline in The Spectatorsummarises, ‘Benefits Street exposes Britain’s dirty secret – how welfare imprisons the poor’.

Benefits Street powerfully demonstrates the pivotal role of media culture in naturalizing the ideology of Broken Britain.  Love Productions, 70% owned by Rupert Murdoch’s global media conglomerate Sky, describes Benefits Street, as a ‘documentary series’, ‘an honest depiction’ which ‘reveals the reality of life on benefits’ and ‘give[s] voice to a community that don’t really have a voice’ ).   However, television, as Pierre Bourdieu reminds us, is ‘an industry which edits and organizes perception, offering visions of the world, classified, portioned and divided in specific ways’ (Bourdieu in Crossley and Slater 2014). The accumulation and repetition of televisual figures of ‘the undeserving poor’ exerts powerful limits on the political imagination by establishing a consensus that Britain, in the words of one viewer, is ‘crawling with workshy, malingerers’ (ref northern echo). In this way, programmes likeBenefits Street establish new rules for the ‘audio-visual policing’ of precariat populations: the marginal, disenfranchised, the underemployed and the unemployed (Rancière 1999, p. 29). As Stephen Crossley and Tom Slater (2014) put it, this is ‘the (tele)vision of divisions’ . The dystopian visions of ‘Broken Britain’, televised by programmes like Benefits Street, are used to ‘politically justify austerity policies’ (Dowling, et al., 2014 p. 875), producing scapegoats for the inequalities which unfold from the crisis of financial capitalism. A reminder that the post-industrial working class not only face precarious employment, downward social mobility, and extreme social insecurity, but endure conditions of ‘heighted stigmatisation […] in daily life as well as in public discourse’ (Wacquant, 2008, pp. 24-25).

More than this though, as I argue in my book Revolting Subjects (2013), the formation of ‘national abjects’ in the public sphere, are technologies of social control through which the transition from welfare to postwelfare states is effected. And there is not only ‘political capital’ to be made here. Reality television production companies like Love specialise in exploitative production processes, harnessing the labours of unwaged participants as ‘human capital’ to produce immense wealth for global media tycoons like Rupert Murdoch. Indeed Benefits Street, achieved peak viewing figures of 6.5 million, making this one of Channel 4’s most popular, and most profitable, television programmes of the year: Yet more ‘accumulation through dispossession’ (Harvey, 2004).

The political aesthetics of ‘Broken Britain’ was not, however, passively accepted by the audience of Benefits Street. Indeed, over the course of 2014, Benefits Street emerged as the site of dense and fractious struggle, amongst the residents of James Tuner Street, television producers, television viewers, politicians, newspaper journalists, television pundits, anti-poverty groups, policy-makers and sociologists (see for example important work of Jensen20132014 and Allen et al. 2014) —exemplified by the ‘Does ‘Poverty Porn’ undermine the Welfare State?’ public event taking place next week.

On August 30th 2014, a group of Middlesbrough[i] football club supporters called ‘Red Faction’, unfurled a banner at the clubs Riverside Stadium which read ‘Being Poor is not Entertainment … F**k Benefits Street’.

This protest against stigmatising television depictions of people living with poverty was stirred by the arrival of a Love Productions television crew in the neighbouring town of Stockton, which had been chosen by the production company as the location for a second series of the Benefits Street. Red Faction had identified that it is ‘no longer possible […] to conduct social struggles without having a specific programme for fighting with and against television’ (Bourdieu, 1998 p.57). The chants of Red Faction on the football terraces that day were a retort to the chant of ‘unemployed, unemployed, unemployed’, with which Benefits Street opens. Under the glare of television cameras, their protest was an imaginative dissent against `the politics of disposability’ (Giroux, 2007). Indeed, the ‘F**k Benefits Street Protest’ is indicative of ongoing class struggles against the symbolic violence and material dispossession of ‘neoliberal capitalist domination’ (Bourdieu, 1998 p. 10).








Between 1971 and 1981 alone, the population of Toxteth fell by more than a third. In extreme form, the area exemplified the wider decline of Liverpool. Since the Edwardian era, the city’s commercial zenith, its long chain of working docks – with their colonnaded quays and warehouses like palaces – had been thinning and corroding. Britain’s maritime trade had moved steadily to other ports on the east coast not the west, closer to Europe.

Since the 1970s, the factory jobs that were meant to replace the dock work had been disappearing too, with Liverpool plants increasingly regarded as disposable branch facilities by manufacturing conglomerates based elsewhere. Since the 1950s, Liverpool’s population had been dropping faster than in any other city in the country: from a peak of almost 900,000 to under 500,000 in 1981.


Much of Liverpool was still handsome, with its bright estuarine light and its steep city-centre hills, stacked with centuries of grand buildings from past booms. It still had cultural leverage and charisma, with its ongoing tradition of clever pop music from the Beatles to mouthy new bands such as Echo and the Bunnymen; and a quick-passing football team, Liverpool FC, that was in the middle of a period of unprecedented dominance of both the English and European games. Yet all this swagger was, at best, inadequate compensation for, and at worst a distraction from, the depopulation and the decaying economy. Early 1980s Liverpool, even more than the country’s many other tatty, depopulating cities, could be seen as a warning: the fall of Britain writ large.

“It was just like having a case study on your doorstep,” Minford told me. “The British disease in its terminal phase. Productivity – hopeless. Union militancy – very strong. Living on benefits – the norm. I saw whole streets doing that at first hand.” On weekday lunchtimes, he and Liverpool University colleagues used to go to a pub on the northern edge of Toxteth. “You had to be a bit careful. But in many ways it was very instructive.”



Postindustrialisation in the Present Tense

Jeff Diamanti


Paolo Portoghesi’s 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale may not exactly represent the genesis of postmodernism, but it certainly codifies its institutionalisation as an architectural paradigm. That year, which incidentally was the first in which there was an exclusively architectural section of the Venice Biennale, named as its theme the emancipatory condition from which architecture could flourish after modernism: ‘la presenza del passato’ (the presence of the past). In the case of Venice, postmodernism was imagined not only as a horizontalisation of an aesthetic history, but just as much as a wager on an alternative economic and social trajectory through the economic uncertainty of postindustrialisation in the wake of the quick death of the welfare state only a few years earlier. Critics on the left tend to plot the explicit neoliberalisation of the global economy somewhere between when Nixon took office in 1969 and the oil shocks in 1973 and 1975, which for some – such as Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt and Maurizio Lazzarato, to name only a few – is shorthand for a radically new logic of global accumulation, and for others – such as David Harvey, Robert Brenner and Moishe Postone – marks an intensification of the capitalist value form at a larger scale. Of course, in a general sense it is not controversial to frame postmodernism and neoliberalism as contemporaneous with one another. That relationship has been well traced at this point and needs no reiteration here. My interest is instead in forwarding an argument about two fairly benign, though as I shall suggest later, central features of the relationship between culture and economics as it unfolded then and to a large extent is unfolding today.

My argument puts the Biennale at the center of exchanges between the social world of cultural capital and the urban world of economic capital at a moment and in spaces of postindustrial transition. After the occupations that took place in Milan during the 1968 Triennale, the Biennale reorganised itself, serialising what was at first a political struggle over the relationship between the aesthetics and politics of economic development. By 1980, and with an autonomous section dedicated to architecture in Venice, its regularity overlapped with successive waves of reinvestment into the cultural capacity of the city. The exhibition’s current capacity to frame cultural exchange came as a consequence not of its geographical reproducibility, however, but of its commitment to public works and cultural-economic stimulation during the years that have now become synonymous with the exhaustion of modernism and the euphoria of postindustrial forms of production. 

Culture for the New Economy

Portoghesi’s theme for the 1980 exhibition imagined an explicit synthesis with the disciplinary register of that earlier crisis of modernism, from which emerged, perhaps more interestingly for our purposes here, a thesis on the politics of postindustrial production in non-capital cities: ‘Postindustrial society … will no longer need great convulsive concentrations and villes tentaculaires, just as modern industry no longer needs cathedrals of work. Small cities will once again play a role not only in the consumption and passive reception of the culture of the metropolis, but also in autonomous creation and valid interlocution.’1 In Portoghesi’s account, ‘a new synchronic vision of History that ultimately becomes an infinite warehouse for images and suggestions from which architects can freely draw shapes, styles and decorative elements’2 would give shape to this new geography of the postindustrial society. What marked the first Venice Biennale as postmodern, in other words, had as much to do with its internal content, a decisively synchronic aesthetic of historical styles, as it did with the city’s decision to share its lease on key Venetian buildings with the Biennale, whose role had quickly shifted from staging the city to shaping it. In 1980, this came in the form of retrofitting the Corderie dell’Arsenale, ‘the largest pre-industrial production centre of the world’3 originally built for nautical production in the fourteenth century, as the primary site for the architecture exhibition.4 A megastructure for an entirely different moment of collective use – the production, that is, of merchant ships at the height of the Venetian empire – in 1980 the Arsenale materialized the new economic function of cultural centers in graduated economies. At the time, this meant utilising the husk of older modes of production for a post-Fordist economy driven by the fantasy that creativity and innovation, rather than production in the older sense, fuel growth, and that building for culture amounts to an investment in the future wealth of a city.

Inside the refurbished Arsenale, Portoghesi featured the transportable Strada Novissima (New Street) consisting of storefront-like facades on the other side of which were single-architect exhibitions. Portoghesi would explain in that year’s Biennale catalogue that the motivation for the street was to contain any and all architectural styles in one continuous space. On a material level, ‘the street is built in temporary materials using refined artisan techniques that the world of cinema has miraculously saved’.5 On a conceptual level, the wager is that ‘in a city reinterpreted in function of the new collective needs, the temporary space can reacquire its importance and become an instrument for the socialization of urban space and the continual creative reinterpretation of its appearance.’6 The new street is meant to prefigure, in other words, a world where culture is the organizing principle of the city, and not an economy of exploitation.

In two early sections of that book, Portoghesi offers a diagnostic of the ‘sick metropolis’ to which postmodernism is the cure. Postindustrial society, according to his account, would combine architectural archipelagos of an earlier urban system with the new ‘science of habitation, built on the ruins of the separate disciplines of urban and regional planning, geography and architecture.’7 This latter stance towards the crumbling edifice of industrial urbanism is one premised on an understanding of finite resources outlined in his book of two years earlier – the same year as the first Biennale – After Modern Architecture . Modern cities, he claimed, grew in the image of the bourgeoisie, and the value form that its mode of accumulation implied was, by the time of his writing, reaching its own limit.

Culture for Accountants

Postmodernism is the answer to Portoghesi’s question, ‘what comes after the perpetual motion of capital when its natural alibi gives up the ghost?’ Here, then, we have precisely the dialectic of economics and culture, or what Fredric Jameson would only a few years later call the cultural logic of late capitalism, except with the cultural frame of postmodernism understood as capable of supplanting its economic other. It is worth recalling that the oil crisis in the 1970s sparked a rapid reorientation of industrial resources in Italy’s North, most visibly in the closure of FIAT Lingotto, which by the time of Portoghesi’s writing was in the midst of Renzo Piano’s cultural retrofit. Creative forms of labour were quickly being reshaped in the image of capital by the time of the 1980 exhibition. Retraining the skilled portion of the workforce was part of Progetto 80, the so-called project to move Italy’s northern networks of production into the new economy. More important for our interests here, however, are the new accounting practices designed by Progetto Quadro (a subsidiary policy group to Progetto 80) to support the representation and appropriation of intangible assets and social wealth upon which the new economy was building itself.

Unlike other types of buildings, such as the manufacturing plant or warehouse, the cultural centre has no fixed trajectory of devaluation on its owner’s balance-sheet. Its current cost replacement – the value that it contributes to the production process as a component of a firm’s total fixed capital – is hypothetically inexhaustible, whereas keeping up with competition in other sectors (and thus with other types of buildings) is a much less certain investment. Progetto 80 set out a multi-tiered integration of the total economy with the unique invention of separately regulated cultural zones. The International Accounting Standards Committee had already abandoned the historical cost principle (the value of the building at construction minus the value it contributed to production over a set timeline), and others, including Italian accountants, had begun to follow suit by the late 1970s.

So while Portoghesi’s version of postmodernism imagined a resolution to the energy crisis – a resolution that sought to replace the finite relation between capital and energy with the inexhaustible relationship between culture and the economy – investors and business owners responded by putting culture to work in the valorisation of fixed capital assets. Understood in this way, postmodernism and postindustrialisation answered two sides of the same question, with results-based management of the economy and an aesthetic regime of the inexhaustible as two idioms of that answer.

Though in recent years the discourses of postindustrial development, cultural capitalism, 

and creative industries have receded to the background of austerity and its discontents, the latter is still frequently cited as an exit from the former. In Liverpool, for example, (a city whose mercantile and postindustrial histories overlap with Venice’s time and time again) the odd non-contradiction between austerity and creativity looks more like a tendency and a counter-tendency, where the falling rate of industrial profit and increases in fixed forms of capital gutted its working-class core in the 1970s and 80s, while the pressure to postindustrialise has put social, or more specifically, cultural energies at the core of new growth. The challenge moving forward for those still interested in what the ghosts of postmodernism offered to the project of postindustrialisation is to reframe the relation as a struggle, not over the maintenance of creativity amidst austerity, but as an exit point from that contradiction altogether.



Antonio "ToniNegri (born 1 August 1933) is an Italian Marxist sociologist and political philosopher, best known for his co-authorship of Empire, and secondarily for his work on Spinoza.

Born in Padua, he became a political philosophy professor in his hometown university. Negri founded the Potere Operaio (Worker Power) group in 1969 and was a leading member of Autonomia Operaia. As one of the most popular theorists of Autonomism, he has published hugely influential books urging "revolutionary consciousness."

He was accused in the late 1970s of various charges including being the mastermind of the left-wing urban guerrilla organization[3]Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse or BR), involved in the May 1978 kidnapping of Aldo Moro, two-time Prime Minister of Italy, and leader of the Christian-Democrat Party, among others. Voice evidence suggested Negri made a threatening phone call on behalf of the BR, but the court was unable to conclusively prove his ties.[3] The question of Negri's complicity with left-wing extremism is a controversial subject.[4] He was indicted on a number of charges, including "association and insurrection against the state" (a charge which was later dropped), and sentenced for involvement in two murders.

Negri fled to France where, protected by the Mitterrand doctrine, he taught at the Paris VIII (Vincennes) and the Collège international de philosophie, along with Jacques DerridaMichel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. In 1997, after a plea-bargain that reduced his prison time from 30 to 13 years,he returned to Italy to serve the end of his sentence. Many of his most influential books were published while he was behind bars. He now lives in Venice and Paris with his partner, the French philosopher Judith Revel.


Autonomist Marxism

Autonomism or Autonomist Marxism is a set of anti-authoritarian left-wing political and social movements and theories.  As a theoretical system, it first emerged in Italy in the 1960s from workerist (operaismocommunism. Later, post-Marxist and anarchisttendencies became significant after influence from the Situationists, the failure of Italian far-left movements in the 1970s, and the emergence of a number of important theorists including Antonio Negri, who had contributed to the 1969 founding of Potere Operaio, as well as Mario TrontiPaolo Virno and Franco "Bifo" Berardi.

Georgy Katsiaficas summarizes the forms of autonomous movements saying that "In contrast to the centralized decisions and hierarchicalauthority structures of modern institutions, autonomous social movements involve people directly in decisions affecting their everyday lives. They seek to expand democracy and to help individuals break free of political structures and behavior patterns imposed from the outside." As such this has involved a call for the independence of social movements from political parties in a revolutionary perspective which seeks to create a practical political alternative to both authoritarian socialism and contemporary parliamentary democracy.

Autonomism influenced the German and Dutch Autonomen, the worldwide social centre movement, and today is influential in Italy, France, and to a lesser extent the English-speaking countries. Those who describe themselves as autonomists now vary from Marxists to post-structuralists and anarchists.

Unlike other forms of Marxism, autonomist Marxism emphasises the ability of the working class to force changes to the organization of thecapitalist system independent of the statetrade unions or political parties. Autonomists are less concerned with party political organization than are other Marxists, focusing instead on self-organized action outside of traditional organizational structures. Autonomist Marxism is thus a "bottom-up" theory: it draws attention to activities that autonomists see as everyday working-class resistance to capitalism, for exampleabsenteeism, slow working, and socialization in the workplace.

Like other Marxists, autonomists see class struggle as being of central importance. However, autonomists have a broader definition of the working class than do other Marxists: as well as wage-earning workers (both white collar and blue collar), autonomists also include in this category the unwaged (students, the unemployed, homemakers, etc.), who are traditionally deprived of any form of union representation.

Early theorists (such as Mario TrontiAntonio NegriSergio Bologna, and Paolo Virno) developed notions of "immaterial" and "social labour" that extended the Marxist concept of labour to all society. They suggested that modern society's wealth was produced by unaccountablecollective work, and that only a little of this was redistributed to the workers in the form of wages. Other Italian autonomists—particularly feminists, such as Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Silvia Federici—emphasised the importance of feminism and the value of unpaid female labour to capitalist society.

A scholar of the movement, Michael Ryan, writes that

Autonomy, as a movement and as a theory, opposes the notion that capitalism is an irrational system which can be made rational through planning. Instead, it assumes the workers' viewpoint, privileging their activity as the lever of revolutionary passage as that which alone can construct a communist society. Economics is seen as being entirely political; economic relations are direct political relations of force between class subjects. And it is in the economic category of the social worker, not in an alienated political form like the party, that the initiative for political change resides.






Image: Canada Dry Dock, Liverpool

While recycling is promoted as universally positive the material processes associated with recycling itself are potentially dangerous. Essays by Brian Ashton, Steve Tombs & David Whyte, together with an artwork by David Jacques, explore the dirty business of ‘regeneration’ on Liverpool’s dockside

A trip down the dock road in the old days would have been an interesting and pleasant experience. You could have taken in the sights from the vantage points offered by the overhead railway, and if you decided to stretch your legs as you reached Canada Dock station you would have been greeted by the smells of Canadian pine and birch as you alighted. Canada was the dock for the importing of timber; wood still comes in, but further down the road towards Seaforth.

Today a trip down to Canada Dock would not be one you would want to repeat. The Overhead has long gone, and the aromas of wood resins have been replaced by the stench of god knows what. And if you were to ask an industrial chemist to analyse the dust and dirt that coats the environs of the North End docks he or she would tell you that they contain arsenic, chromium, lead and mercury. Not the sort of minerals you would want excesses of in your body. So, you say, I’m staying away from there. And who could blame you. But what about those who live and work in the area? And what is producing the deterioration in the air quality around the Canada Dock area? Or should that be, who?

In the globalised economy that is 21st century capitalism, commodities are increasingly produced in places like China, India and Slovakia. The major markets for commodities are Europe and North America. The demand for metals is increasing in the East, and the West is producing the waste, like old cars, busted washing machines and fridges. As well as consumer waste there are over 75 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste produced per annum in the UK. Complex supply chains exist to produce and deliver the commodities we are all encouraged to consume, and equally complex chains exist to return the recycled waste to the Far Eastern and Eastern European producing countries. And, yes, the whole bloody process starts all over again as it gets turned into cars, washing machines and fridges.

Liverpool is an important centre for the recycling of the waste that is sent back to the East. It has a number of advantages; it is a major port, a port with land to spare, and it has an available supply of unskilled and semi-skilled labour. These advantages have attracted companies who are intent on making a profit out of the scrap and crap that consumerism produces. The possibility for profit has increased owing to European and UK legislation on disposal of end of life vehicles (ELV) and regulations on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The ELV directive was implemented in the UK through the ELV Regulations 2003 and 2005. The WEEE regulations came into force in January 2007.

The 2003 ELV regulations stated that vehicles had to be de-polluted, all hazardous fluids, batteries and tyres had to be removed and recycled or disposed of lawfully. 2005 regulations put the onus on the original vehicle manufacturer to provide a free take-back service to the last owners of complete ELVs. The 2005 regulations provided an opportunity for companies in the business of dismantling vehicles. They formed themselves into consortia to gain the business of collecting and recycling ELVs.

Two companies with plants in the docklands of North Liverpool, European Metal Recycling (EMR) and S. Norton & Co. Ltd, better known as Norton Scrap, have helped to set up these organisations. According to their web site, the consortium headed by EMR has no formal contracts with vehicle producers. Norton, on the other hand, have formal contracts with producers through the organisation they helped to set up, Cartakeback.com. Some 30-odd vehicle manufacturers have signed up with the organisation. Norton are one of the ten companies who set it up, but there are over two hundred other companies in this recycling supply chain and they provide over 250 sites across the country for the disposal of your car. So, if your Alfa Romeo or Bugatti is on its last legs then get in touch with Cartakeback.com and they will do the business for you. It is estimated that Norton and their partners expect to reach an annual turnover of one billion pounds sterling, and to produce four million tonnes of recycled scrap. That is 40 percent of the UK’s total.





Rethinking class: from recomposition to counterpower - Paul Bowman

'In this article Paul Bowman draws a line between revolutionary class analysis and universalist utopianism and goes on to explore the history of different ideas of class and the elusive revolutionary subject. After exploring the intersecting lines of class and identity, he poses the challenge that we as libertarian communists face as we strive to create “cultural and organisational forms of class power [that] do not unconsciously recreate the... hierarchies of identity and exclusion” that are the hallmark of the present society.

Against universalism, against utopianism

The term class divides people into two camps. One which seems to uphold its validity with an almost cult-like intensity, and a much larger camp that is at best undecided, but mostly turned off entirely by it – and especially so by the apparently religious fervour of the small minority in the first camp.

Given the fact of this starting point, the most obvious question is - Is class still a useful idea? Is there any mileage to be gained from including class in our analysis or should we instead, just dispense with it and go with the raw econometrics of inequality?

Today books like “The Spirit Level”1, try to recast the old discourses of socialism against poverty and class injustice, as appeals to universal rationality. Inequality, they say, leads to measurably worse social outcomes on a whole number of levels. The graphs and the statistics they muster, should surely convince any putative social engineers, with a scientifically neutral interest in the social policies most proven to maximise social utility, of the sanity, the “rationality” of more egalitarian policies.

Similarly, inspired by the success of Occupy Wall Street in putting the whole 1% versus 99% meme on the social agenda2, sources as diverse as popular science magazines like New Scientist publish special reports3 on the scientifically measurable ills of inequality, and locally organisations like TASC4regularly publish data on inequality in Ireland.

What useful extra does class add to that? In what way does class step outside the dead end of the “rationalist” programme? Simply put, by rejecting the unspoken, underlying presumption of such a programme – by rejecting universalism - and its bogus moralising.

A class analysis accepts the truth that the status quo is not against everyone's interests. That being the case, any attempt to construct a programme of radical social change in the name of the “general interest” is doomed to failure, because there can be no universal interests so long as the interests of a minority resist change. In fact it is the very ability of a tiny minority to make its own interests rule over those of the vast majority that is one of the most important things that needs to change.

But more than this, a class perspective is not simply the foundation of a critique of what exists, and an analysis of what needs to change, but also implies a strategy for how that change could be brought about. In the matter of strategy, a class perspective rejects the “rationalist” programme as utopian.

What does it mean to say that a programme for social change is utopian? In the first instance it means that the programme has no obvious strategy for how it is to be brought about, other than a vague notion of if you educate enough people about its desirability then somehow it will be brought about through weight of numbers and the force of public opinion.

On a deeper level, utopian programmes are differentiated from instrumental and prefigurative ones on the basis of the means-ends relationship. To start with the most familiar case, instrumentalism is the position that “the end justifies the means”. That is to say, that if the end, or goal, is one that significantly increases social good or the welfare of the masses, then any squeamishness about using deceptive, manipulative or manifestly unjust methods to achieve it, is a case of misplaced scruples, or “bourgeois morality”. In other words, for instrumentalists, there is a total disconnect between means and ends.

The prefigurative approach holds, by contrast, that there is an inherent link between means and ends. For example, if kangaroo courts or summary execution are used to rid society of a genuine evil-doer, the use of improper methods lays the foundation for miscarriages of justice in the future. The means used to achieve a goal, necessarily leave its mark in the end result, in the prefigurative view. For example, the famous Sonvilier Circular issued to all sections of the First International by the Jura Federation in 1871, declared that

The future society must be nothing else than the universalization of the organization that the International has formed for itself. We must therefore strive to make this organization as close as possible to our ideal. How could one expect an egalitarian society to emerge out of an authoritarian organization? It is impossible. The International, embryo of the future society, must from now on faithfully reflect our principles of federation and liberty, and must reject any principle tending toward authority and dictatorship.5

However, recognising the link between the means employed and the ends achieved, as prefiguration does, must not mean mistaking the one for the other, for confusing means and ends.

This error, of confusing means and ends, is the starting point for utopianism. From the utopian viewpoint the end and the means are simply one. If you want to change social relations all you have to do is for a group of well-meaning people to voluntarily begin to practice the new relations amongst themselves and spread their adoption through the power of example, education and propaganda etc. This perspective erroneously confuses interpersonal relations, which can, with effort and struggle, be changed by the voluntary actions of a few, with social relationships, which cannot.

To take another historical example, Robert Owen, in his 1819 “An Address to the Working Classes” states that because the new (communist) society will be an improvement in the conditions of all members of society, therefore there is no fundamental conflict between classes in the here and now to prevent its achievement. Hence why Owen is generally categorised as a utopian socialist (and not just by Marxists).

Despite the clear difference between prefigurative and utopian approaches, the two continue to be confused today. Partly this is deliberate on the part of instrumentalists like Leninists and other authoritarian Marxists and socialists, who are hostile to prefiguration on principle. But partly it is genuine confusion on behalf of those, who through naivety or lack of critical ability, read the Sonvilier line about the International being the embryo of the new society growing within the bosom of the old too literally.

So, in the question of class this question has significant meaning. If we aspire to a classless society, it is not enough to start by pretending that class doesn’t exist. Such a confusion of means and ends would be hopelessly utopian and would ignore the fact that class is not simply a subjective phenomenon, but has an objective material basis that persists regardless of whether anyone chooses to believe in it or not.'




Big Flame (political group)

Big Flame was "a revolutionary socialist feminist organisation with a working-class orientation" in the United Kingdom. Founded in Liverpool in 1970, the group initially grew rapidly, with branches appearing in some other cities. Its publications emphasised that "a revolutionary party is necessary but Big Flame is not that party, nor is it the embryo of that party". The group was influenced by the Italian Lotta Continua group.

The group published a magazine, Big Flame, and a journal, Revolutionary Socialism. Members were active at the Ford plants at Halewood and Dagenham and devoted a great deal of time to self-analysis and considering their relationship with the larger Trotskyist groups. In time, they came to describe their politics as "libertarian Marxist". In 1978 they joined the Socialist Unity electoral coalition, led by the Trotskyist International Marxist Group.[7]

In 1980, the anarchists of the Libertarian Communist Group joined Big Flame. The Revolutionary Marxist Current also joined at about this time. However, as more members of the group defected to the Labour Party, the journal ceased to appear in 1982, and the group was wound up in about 1984.

Ex-members of the group were involved in the launch of the mass-market tabloid newspaper the News on Sunday in 1987, which folded the same year.

The name of the group was taken from a television play, The Big Flame (1969), written by Jim Allen and directed by Ken Loach for the BBC's Wednesday Play season. It dealt with a fictional strike and work-in at the Liverpool Docks.









Open School East
The Rose Lipman Building
43 De Beauvoir Rd
London N1 5SQ

On occasions, Open School East welcomes ideas for space use. If you are a community organisation and are looking for a space from which to run free one-off cultural or educational activities (classes, workshops and events), please contact us.


Text box

Postindustrialisation in the Present Tense

Jeff Diamanti

Paolo Portoghesi’s 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale may not exactly represent the genesis of postmodernism, but it certainly codifies its institutionalisation as an architectural paradigm. That year, which incidentally was the first in which there was an exclusively architectural section of the Venice Biennale, named as its theme the emancipatory condition from which architecture could flourish after modernism: ‘la presenza del passato’ (the presence of the past). In the case of Venice, postmodernism was imagined not only as a horizontalisation of an aesthetic history, but just as much as a wager on an alternative economic and social trajectory through the economic uncertainty of postindustrialisation in the wake of the quick death of the welfare state only a few years earlier. Critics on the left tend to plot the explicit neoliberalisation of the global economy somewhere between when Nixon took office in 1969 and the oil shocks in 1973 and 1975, which for some – such as Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt and Maurizio Lazzarato, to name only a few – is shorthand for a radically new logic of global accumulation, and for others – such as David Harvey, Robert Brenner and Moishe Postone – marks an intensification of the capitalist value form at a larger scale. Of course, in a general sense it is not controversial to frame postmodernism and neoliberalism as contemporaneous with one another. That relationship has been well traced at this point and needs no reiteration here. My interest is instead in forwarding an argument about two fairly benign, though as I shall suggest later, central features of the relationship between culture and economics as it unfolded then and to a large extent is unfolding today.



To some, the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA) might appear to be but a ragged bunch of activists sporting false noses, a smudge of grease paint, camouflage pants and bad wigs. And those people may be right. But it is also a highly disciplined army of professional clowns, a militia of authentic fools, a battalion of true buffoons.

Clowning is a state of being rather than a technique

Art activist John Jordan and colleagues L.M. Bogad, Jen Verson and Matt Trevelyan founded CIRCA in late 2003 to welcome arch-clown George W. Bush on his royal visit to London. CIRCA aimed to be a new methodology of civil disobedience, merging the ancient art of clowning with contemporary tactics of nonviolent direct action. It went on to be a successful meme and international protest phenomenon, with self-organized groups taking action in the streets outside summits and military bases in dozens of countries from Colombia to New Zealand.

Key Principle at work

Use absurdity to undermine the aura of authority

Ridicule and absurdity are powerful tools against authority. To be effective, authority has to be perceived as such, otherwise people would never obey its commands. On the other hand, who ever takes a clown seriously? Rebel clowning used this slippery dichotomy to great effect, turning the tables on authority in the street by posing in mock-serious fashion next to lines of cops, as well as at the highest levels of power, by pointing out the clownish behavior of George W. Bush and other authority figures.

Get arrested in an intelligent way

Watching police handcuff and bundle clowns into police vans is always entertaining for passersby, begging the question: What did the clowns do wrong? What is this all about? An arrested clown also makes for very mediagenic images. By staying in character during the whole process of an arrest, including giving their clown army names (e.g., Private Joke) and addressees (e.g., the big top in the sky) as their real identity, rebel clowns caused much mirth and havoc in the police stations.


Rebel clowning helped reframe the media images of protests during the big summit mobilizations of the mid 1990s. A colorful band of disobedient clowns could easily capture the limelight and shift the narrative away from ?violent clashes? and smashed windows.


Why it worked

Rebel clowning was a gateway for lots of people to get involved in radical politics who were otherwise put off by its seriousness. For many recruits, it was their first experience of civil disobedience, but the playfulness and mask-like make-up empowered them to be deeply disobedient, often in unexpectedly absurd and creative ways.



John Jordan is an artist and activist in the direct action movements, Co-editor of "We Are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global Anticapitalism", Verso 2003 he is presently working on a book/film Paths Through Utopias


 "We are looking into an unprecedented abyss of economic and social turmoil that confounds our previous perceptions of historical risk. Our vertigo is intensified by our ignorance of the depth of the crisis or any sense of how far we might ultimately fall."





Jakob Jakobsen is a politically engaged visual artist, educator and activist. He was part of the Copenhagen Free University from 2001 to 2007 (copenhagenfreeuniversity.dk), was co-founder of the trade union Young Artworkers (UKK) (ukk.dk) in 2002, and the artist run television station tv-tv in 2004. He was professor at the Funen Art Academy from 2006 to 2012.

Recent exhibitions include Billed Politik at Overgaden, Institute of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen (billedpolitik.dk) and This World We Must Leave at Kunsthalle Aarhus in 2010 (thisworldwemustleave.dk) and Trauma 1 - 11: Stories about the Copenhagen Free University and the surrounding society in the last ten years at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde in 2011 (https://vimeo.com/29529903).

Most recently he participated in And And And at dOCUMENTA13 (andandand.org) with the The Antiuniversity Research Project (antihistory.org) from 2012.


'The economic crisis and the professionalisation of the art system has set more focus on art worker conditions nationally and internationally. UKK has in 2012 made a questionnaire to cover the Danish situation among young art workers and has particularly focused on local issues such as art grants, the unemployment benefit system and free labour. Because young artists increasingly are working internationally and in order to perspectivize the Danish context, a seminar with a more international perspective will take place on the basis of the questionnaire. For this seminar groups of artists, activists and academics are invited from different geopolitical contexts. They are critical of their local situation, but also come with suggestions of alternative solutions, which the seminar attempt to discuss across contexts and conditions. The results of the questionnaire willl also be published at the seminar, in a printed publication with contributions by author Lene Asp and the sociologist Jaron Rowan. - See more at: http://artsandlabor.org/ukk/#sthash.Wo2wEq1U.dpuf'



TUTORIAL 23.3.16


  • acsessability of audience > publication, reading room, installation, livestreamign events
  • REAPROPRIATION of found footage in video work
  • reading room structure
  • subject matter > poverty porn / power relations
  • hosting events in installation
  • SUPERFLEX > Tenantspin > Superchannel + Tools


  • N55
  • UTV Stephan Dillemuth
  • Jakob Jakobsen
  • sndwhilelondonburns.com
  • BIG FLAME > liverpool
  • autonomio Operaia, autonomist movement 1970s
  • COMUNITY > open school
  • community center De Beauvoir
  • Giovanni Rubino
  • Recompossition of Class
  • Working Artists
  • Position of artists within class structure
  • Critique of Superflex's effect and involvement in communities.



tenantspin is a Liverpool-based Community TV Channel. It was established by the Danish artists? group Superflex in 1999 and is now managed by FACT(Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), city-wide tenants and Arena Housing, a North-West Housing Association. This unique collaboration enables all parties to explore issues around ways of living and interacting.

For The Fifth Floor, tenantspin will design and establish a fully-equipped TV studio within the galleries where stories, opinions, and views will be collected from visitors, and where live discussions, readings and performances will take place. All content will be available on the tenantspin website.

tenantspin are also providing Media Training to individuals and community groups in Liverpool. In tandem with the International Festival stage, the tenantspin studio will be a hub for a live programme of events on The Fifth Floor.


By working with tenants over an extended period of time, empowering them to lead and shape the programme, tenantspin developed their skills and creative practice. This approach to participation still lies at the heart of FACT?s Collaboration and Engagement Programme. 

In its formative years, tenantspin took the form of a Superchannel, a web-streaming platform and live-chat facility created before the rise of Youtube, that enabled tenants to produce online content. This allowed tenants to connect with their neighbours and the global community in real-time. Webcast content ranged in subject matter from serious topics relating to housing or welfare, to light-hearted subjects close to the tenant?s hearts. The project invited artists, leading cultural figures, experts and innovators from across the world to join them in their Liverpool studio to debate and contribute to the 1000 hours of broadcasted content and produce new work. In the later years, tenantspin continued to work in a social housing context working in neighbourhoods such as Sefton Park and North Liverpool developing tenant-led content, artist commissions and webcast content.



In its most basic form sampling simply re-processes existing culture, usually technologically, in much the same way a collage does

  • Christian Marclay, 'Video Quartet' 2002
    Christian Marclay
    Video Quartet 2002
    Four screen projection, found Hollywood film clips transferred to colour video and audio track
    overall display dimensions variable
    duration: 14 min
    Purchased from funds provided by the Film and Video Special Acquisitions Fund 2003© Christian Marclay

In the early 1980s artists began cannibalising fragments of sound, image, music, dance and performance to create new works of art. These hybrid projects used sampling to generate live or time-based events that subverted our notions of time, space, artist and audience, virtual and actual.

In the past two decades this DIY punk aesthetic has come to represent a radical challenge to the notions of authorship, originality and intellectual property, while creating new narratives and refreshing the cultural archive. Artists like Christian Marclay and Candice Breitz manipulate film and music, remixing familiar footage into epic narratives.



  1. government by the wealthy.
    "the attack on the Bank of England was a gesture against the very symbol of plutocracy"
    • a state or society governed by the wealthy.
      plural noun: plutocracies
      "no one can accept public policies which turn a democracy into a plutocracy"
    • an elite or ruling class whose power derives from their wealth.
      "officials were drawn from the new plutocracy"


Michel Foucault, the French postmodernist, has been hugely influential in shaping understandings of power, leading away from the analysis of actors who use power as an instrument of coercion, and even away from the discreet structures in which those actors operate, toward the idea that ‘power is everywhere’, diffused and embodied in discourse, knowledge and ‘regimes of truth’ (Foucault 1991; Rabinow 1991). Power for Foucault is what makes us what we are, operating on a quite different level from other theories:

‘His work marks a radical departure from previous modes of conceiving power and cannot be easily integrated with previous ideas, as power is diffuse rather than concentrated, embodied and enacted rather than possessed, discursive rather than purely coercive, and constitutes agents rather than being deployed by them’ (Gaventa 2003: 1)

Foucault challenges the idea that power is wielded by people or groups by way of ‘episodic’ or ‘sovereign’ acts of domination or coercion, seeing it instead as dispersed and pervasive. ‘Power is everywhere’ and ‘comes from everywhere’ so in this sense is neither an agency nor a structure (Foucault 1998: 63). Instead it is a kind of ‘metapower’ or ‘regime of truth’ that pervades society, and which is in constant flux and negotiation. Foucault uses the term ‘power/knowledge’ to signify that power is constituted through accepted forms of knowledge, scientific understanding and ‘truth’:



Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of mid-20th-century French and continental philosophers and critical theorists who came to international prominence in the 1960s and 1970s.[1][2][3]

Post-structuralism is defined by its relationship to its predecessor, structuralism, an intellectual movement developed in Europe from the early to mid-20th century which argued that human culture may be understood by means of a structure—modeled on language (i.e., structural linguistics)—that differs from concrete reality and from abstract ideas—a "third order" that mediates between the two.[4] Post-structuralist authors all present different critiques of structuralism, but common themes include the rejection of the self-sufficiency of the structures that structuralism posits and an interrogation of the binary oppositions that constitute those structures.[5]Writers whose work is often characterised as post-structuralist include Jacques DerridaMichel FoucaultGilles DeleuzeJudith ButlerJacques LacanJean Baudrillard, and Julia Kristeva, although many theorists who have been called "post-structuralist" have rejected the label.[6]

Existential phenomenology is a significant influence; Colin Davis has argued that post-structuralists might just as accurately be called "post-phenomenologists".



A major theory associated with Structuralism was binary opposition. This theory proposed that there are certain theoretical and conceptual opposites, often arranged in a hierarchy, which human logic has given to text. Such binary pairs could include Enlightenment/Romantic, male/female, speech/writing, rational/emotional, signifier/signified, symbolic/imaginary.

Post-structuralism rejects the notion of the essential quality of the dominant relation in the hierarchy, choosing rather to expose these relations and the dependency of the dominant term on its apparently subservient counterpart. The only way to properly understand these meanings is to deconstruct the assumptions and knowledge systems that produce multiplicity, the illusion of singular meaning.[clarification needed]

Post-structuralism and structuralism

Structuralism was an intellectual movement in France in the 1950s and 1960s that studied the underlying structures in cultural products (such as texts) and used analytical concepts from linguistics, psychology, anthropology, and other fields to interpret those structures. It emphasized the logical and scientific nature of its results.

Post-structuralism offers a way of studying how knowledge is produced and critiques structuralist premises. It argues that because history and culture condition the study of underlying structures, both are subject to biases and misinterpretations. A post-structuralist approach argues that to understand an object (e.g., a text), it is necessary to study both the object itself and the systems of knowledge that produced the object.



Stop And Piss: David Hammons' Pissed Off

T.W.U., 1980-81, photo by Donna Svennevik, via publicartfund.org

Richard Serra was on a roll in NYC in 1980. In the run-up to the debut of Tilted Arc, he had two Cor-Ten sculptures installed in Tribeca: St John's Rotary Arc was in the exit plaza of the Holland Tunnel, and T.W.U.(above) was in front of the Franklin St. entrance for the IND subway. It was named for the Transport Workers Union, which had just gone on an 11-day strike as the sculpture was being installed.


By 1981, T.W.U. was looking a little beat, strewn with empties, and covered with wheatpasted flyers and graffiti. That's when Dawoud Bey shot a series of photos, posted recently on Black Contemporary Art's tumblr, of David Hammons pissing on the sculpture.

The sequence apparently begins with Hammons in khakis, Pumas, and a dashiki, with a matching shoulder bag, just standing there in the south-facing space of Serra's sculpture. In the next photo, he's turned away from the camera, doing his business.


Then we see Hammons, talking with an NYPD officer, presenting papers, maybe a passport? The caption reads, "David Hammons receiving a citation from a police officer." Which might have happened! But really, we don't know.


These photos are not journalism; they're documentation of a performance Hammons titled Pissed Off. I don't know when or how the title emerged; it's hard to trace the historic trajectory of Hammons' practice apart from the art world's later embrace/interpretation of it.

But considering that other tellings of the story say that Hammons was "arrested" or "almost arrested," I feel more comfortable in just saying we don't know.

What happened, and what's in the photos, are not the same thing. There were actions and interactions here beyond the frames and before, after, and in between the clicks of the shutter. Like, where'd the white shopping bag and folder Hammons is holding in the first photo go? Is Bey holding them? It makes me think of one of the best pieces I've ever read on Hammons' work, by Christian Haye and Coco Fusco, from Frieze, May 1995:

[Hammons] is, in actuality, a masterful investigator of how an oppositional black cultural identity can be generated through a dialogue with 'high' culture, particularly as it is articulated through standard English. His method relies on punning and other kinds of word games that short-circuit the dominant cultural interpretation of any given object or term to be redirected for his own purpose.
This practice, which Haye discusses using Henry Louis Gates' concept of signifyin', applies as much to Bey's photos as to Serra's sculpture. The art world can think it's funny and transgressive to see Hammons pissing on Serra, but do they even notice that he's splashing onto their shoes, too? That everyone assumes or accepts the retributive outcome of Hammons' encounter with the cop may just be the most critically damning aspect ofPissed Off.


David Hammons, Shoe Tree, 1981, on Richard Serra's T.W.U., 1980, image via grupa ok, (who rightly call it an assemblage)

Speaking of shoes, Hammons did another performance at T.W.U.. For Shoe Tree (1981), Hammons threw 25 pairs of sneakers over the top of Serra's 36-foot tall steel plates. Some call it a performance, but unlike his documentation for Pissed Off, Bey's photo shows no artist, no action, no street, no building, even, just the stark angles of the top of Serra's paint-splattered sculpture against an empty afternoon sky.





This seems to be what?s going on in the famous street piece Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983). The photos portraying Hammons with his neatly arranged rows of snowballs for sale are probably the most frequently reproduced images in the artist?s oeuvre. The piece has become iconic, the single ephemeral work ? a work that is essentially about ephemerality ? that has come to stand for his entire practice. As it comes down to us in documentation, it is a portrait of the artist as an anonymous and disreputable pedlar, an absurdist street hustler. Hammons? notion of an artist includes a constant flirtation with notions of the illicit and the fraudulent ? the ever-present suggestion that the whole business might be a scam. What, after all, could be more of a scam than selling snowballs in winter?



Much of his work reflects his commitment to the civil rights and Black Power movements. A good example is the early Spade with Chains (1973), where the artist employs a provocative, derogatory term, coupled with the literal gardening instrument, in order to make a visual pun between the blade of a shovel and an African mask, and a contemporary statement about the issues of bondage and resistance. This was part of a larger series of "Spade" works in the 1970s, including "Bird" (1973), where Charlie Parker is evoked by a spade emerging from a saxophone, "Spade," a 1974 print where the artist pressed his face against the shape leaving a caricature-like imprint of Negroid features.

In 1980, Hammons took part in Colab's ground-breaking The Times Square Show, which acted as a forum for exchange of ideas for a younger set of alternative artists in New York. His installation was made of glistening scattered shards of glass (from broken bottles of Night Train wine).

Other works play on the association of basketball and young black men, such as drawings made by repeatedly bouncing a dirty basketball on huge sheets of clean white paper set on the floor; a series of larger-than-life basketball hoops, meticulously decorated with bottle caps, evoking Islamic mosaic and design; and Higher Goals (1986), where an ordinary basketball hoop, net, and backboard are set on a three-story high pole - commenting on the almost impossible aspirations of sports stardom as a way out of the ghetto.

Through his varied work and media, and frequent changes in direction, Hammons has managed to avoid one signature visual style. Much of his work makes allusions to, and shares concerns with minimalism and post-minimal art, but with added Duchampian references to the place of Black people in American society.





it?s instructive to re-read the prime minister, David Cameron?s rhetoric on the i?big society?, back in the heady, early days before austerity had taken root: how eloquent and purposeful it seemed then; how empty and cynical now.

Stirring phrases were crafted for his speeches. He promised to oversee a shift ?from state power to people power?, and from ?unchecked individualism to national unity?. To citizens, he issued a call to arms: ?Society is not a spectator sport?. To charities, he promised a starring role in public service provision: ?Come in and provide a great service,? he urged.

Most glib and infuriating of all, Cameron gave us the phrase that has been adopted as an ironic coda to the now almost daily reports of widening social, economic and geographic inequality: ?There is no ?them? and ?us? ? there is us. We are all in this together.?

In 2010, big society seemed momentarily significant. Whitehall devoted huge resource to making policy big-society-compatible. Big society lobbies were pump-primed with cash (controversially it turned out); supposed gurus were enobled and promoted (but didn?t last long). There were conferences. Within months it became an Oxford dictionary word of the year (alongside ?double-dip? and ?Tea Party?).

Briefly, some actual big society participants may even have believed in it. Two years after he attended the invitation-only launch of big society at Downing Street, the community activist David Robinson concluded the PM?s vision was ?as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike?. His was not a minority view.

Now big society has disappeared entirely, like an embarrassing fashion item, worn once and pushed to the back of the cupboard. The PM last mentioned it at Christmas 2013. The phrase has been erased from official government discourse (although a monthly big society gong is still awarded by the PM?s office). On Twitter, the big society hashtag is used wryly to signify coalition hypocrisy and spending cuts.

In the circumstances, it almost seems superflous that the Civil Exchange thinktank has published its third and final audit of the big society; but it is worth reading as a guide to why and how the policy went so disastrously wrong, and a useful pointer to whether some of the sound principles underpinning it might be rescued in future.

More than anything, Civil Exchange demonstrates the coalition?s sheer contempt for civil society, right from the start: billions of pounds cut from charity grants (small, local charities losing most); restrictions against civil society?s right to challenge policy through the courts, and the voluntary sector?s ability to speak out on behalf of the people it works with.

The coalition?s saw charities narrowly as service ?contractors? the report notes. And yet its obsession with market-led reform of public services meant those charities that sought a role were frozen out by ?private sector quasi-monopolies?.

According to the audit, people feel less able to influence local decisions than they did in 2001, Britain, it notes, ?still has one of the most centralised political systems in the world.? It promised a rise in civic engagement, and yet volunteering levels are flatlining, and while cuts and austerity have fallen most harshly on deprived neighbourhoods, social action remains concentrated among the well-off, in the wealthiest places.

But ultimately, you sense big society failed for a very simple reason. Too many members and supporters of government did not understand or believe in ? and in some cases actively despised ? its overarching social vision.



The journalistic tendency to balance stories with two opposing views leads to a tendency to ‘build stories around a confrontation between protagonists and antagonists’ (Ricci 1993: 95). Issues such as garbage and sewage sludge only get coverage, despite their importance, when there is a fight over the siting of a landfill or incinerator and the coverage is then on the ‘anger and anguish of affected citizens, or the conflicting claims of corporate spokesmen, government regulators and environmental activists’ rather than the issues and technical background to them(Gersh 1992: 16).
The job of media is not to inform, but to misinform: Divert public attention from important issues and changes decided by the political and economic elites, by the technique of flood or continuous flood of distractions and insignificant information.
Journalists who have access to highly placed government and corporate sources have to keep them on their side by not reporting anything adverse about them or their organizations. Otherwise they risk losing them as sources of information. In return for this loyalty, their sources occasionally give them good stories, leaks and access to special interviews. Unofficial information, or leaks, give the impression of investigative journalism, but are often strategic manoeuvres on the part of those with position or power (Ricci 1993: 99). ‘It is a bitter irony of source journalism … that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the “best” sources’(quoted in Lee and Solomon 1990: 18).

The 10 Strategies:

1. The strategy of distraction
The primary element of social control is the strategy of distraction which is to divert public attention from important issues and changes determined by the political and economic elites, by the technique of flood or flooding continuous distractions and insignificant information.
Distraction strategy is also essential to prevent the public interest in the essential knowledge in the area of the science, economics, psychology, neurobiology and cybernetics.
“Maintaining public attention diverted away from the real social problems, captivated by matters of no real importance. Keep the public busy, busy, busy, no time to think, back to farm and other animals” (quote from text Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars).

2. Create problems, then offer solutions
This method is also called “problem -reaction- solution.”
It creates a problem, a “situation” referred to cause some reaction in the audience, so this is the principal of the steps that you want to accept.
For example: let it unfold and intensify urban violence, or arrange for bloody attacks in order that the public is the applicant’s security laws and policies to the detriment of freedom.
Or create an economic crisis to accept as a necessary evil retreat of social rights and the dismantling of public services.

3. The gradual strategy
Acceptance to an unacceptable degree, just apply it gradually, dropper, for consecutive years.
That is how they radically new socioeconomic conditions (neoliberalism) were imposed during the 1980s and 1990s:
• the minimal state
• privatization
• precariousness
• flexibility
• massive unemployment
• wages
• do not guarantee a decent income,
...so many changes that have brought about a revolution if they had been applied once.

4. The strategy of deferring
Another way to accept an unpopular decision is to present it as “painful and necessary”, gaining public acceptance, at the time for future application.
It is easier to accept that a future sacrifice of immediate slaughter.
• First, because the effort is not used immediately
• Then, because the public, masses, is always the tendency to expect naively that “everything will be better tomorrow” and that the sacrifice required may be avoided
This gives the public more time to get used to the idea of change and accept it with resignation when the time comes.5. Go to the public as a little child

5. Go to the public as a little child
Most of the advertising to the general public uses speech, argument, people and particularly children’s intonation, often close to the weakness, as if the viewer were a little child or a mentally deficient.
The harder one tries to deceive the viewer look, the more it tends to adopt a tone infantilizing.
“If one goes to a person as if she had the age of 12 years or less, then, because of suggestion, she tends with a certain probability that a response or reaction also devoid of a critical sense as a person 12 years or younger.” (see Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars)

6. Use the emotional side more than the reflection
Making use of the emotional aspect is a classic technique for causing a short circuit on rational analysis, and finally to the critical sense of the individual.
Furthermore, the use of emotional register to open the door to the unconscious for implantation or grafting ideas , desires, fears and anxieties , compulsions, or induce behaviors …

7. Keep the public in ignorance and mediocrity
Making the public incapable of understanding the technologies and methods used to control and enslavement.
“The quality of education given to the lower social classes must be the poor and mediocre as possible so that the gap of ignorance it plans among the lower classes and upper classes is and remains impossible to attain for the lower classes.” (See Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars).

8. To encourage the public to be complacent with mediocrity
Promote the public to believe that the fact is fashionable to be stupid, vulgar and uneducated…

9. Self-blame Strengthen
To let individual blame for their misfortune, because of the failure of their intelligence, their abilities, or their efforts.
So, instead of rebelling against the economic system, the individual auto-devaluate and guilt himself, which creates a depression, one of whose effects is to inhibit its action.And, without action, there is no revolution!

10. Getting to know the individuals better than they know themselves
Over the past 50 years, advances of accelerated science has generated a growing gap between public knowledge and those owned and operated by dominant elites.
Thanks to biology, neurobiology and applied psychology, the “system” has enjoyed a sophisticated understanding of human beings, both physically and psychologically.
The system has gotten better acquainted with the common man more than he knows himself.
This means that, in most cases, the system exerts greater control and great power over individuals, greater than that of individuals about themselves.



"the uses and abuses of power"



Ethnography (from Greek ????? ethnos "folk, people, nation" and ????? grapho "I write") is the systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study.

Mike Nelson | Le Cannibale (Parody, Consumption and Institutional Critique)

Decay and paralells between natural/emotional decay and architectural decay

'The privileged are taking over the arts – without the grit, pop culture is doomed'

Jarvis Cocker. Photo: Steve Double

Hoggart believed this was the era when working-class performers and audiences held greatest sway, dominating British music. Though he couldn’t have known it, that golden age was just about to come. As he wrote his venerable text in the Hull of the mid-1950s, not far down the road in another northern port a bunch of Scouse teenagers was strumming the overture to an entertainment revolution (albeit one with music- hall roots) that would eclipse the reign of Marie Lloyd and Dan Leno.

Entering Paul McCartney’s council-house childhood home at 20 Forthlin Road, Allerton, Merseyside, American visitors are often visibly shocked by how tiny it is, how plain – spartan even. (Lennon’s was slightly bigger, so he is routinely and wrongly labelled as “middle-class”. His dad was an itinerant galley hand, and after his single-parent mum died he was brought up by an aunt in a modest Liverpool street. It’s hardly Downton Abbey.) From these little houses, from terraced streets across the north or unlovely London boroughs, from mill towns and ports, factories and coalfields, came working-class kids who’d shake the world with every shake of their head.

But those days are gone – whether James Blunt thinks so or not. The former Guardsman-turned-balladeer has improved his media standing of late by building a genuinely funny and self-deprecating presence on Twitter. But he showed his more rebarbative edge on 19 January with an attack on the Labour MP Chris Bryant. Bryant had made the fairly anodyne point that posh kids such as Blunt and the actor Eddie Redmayne were becoming increasingly prevalent in UK entertainment. It’s not a particularly new or shocking assertion, but the vehemence of Blunt’s response was revealing. Replying by that most modish of platforms, the open letter, he called Bryant a “classist gimp” and a “prejudiced wazzock”, and invoked the threadbare sneer about the politics of envy. If nothing else, the rant by James, an Old Harrovian, gave the lie to the notion that the upper classes have better manners. Yet there is more to it than that; the note of wounded paranoia suggests that Blunt knows Bryant is right.

The great cultural tide that surged through Harold Wilson’s 1960s and beyond, the sea change that swept the McCartneys, Finneys, Bakewells, Courtenays, Baileys, Bennetts et al to positions of influence and eminence, if not actual power, has ebbed and turned. The children of the middle and upper classes are beginning to reassert a much older order. In the arts generally – music, theatre, literature for sure – it is clear that cuts to benefits, the disappearance of the art school (where many a luminous layabout found room to bloom) and the harsh cost of further and higher education are pricing the working class out of careers in the arts and making it increasingly a playground for the comfortably off. The grants are gone and the relatively benign benefits system that sustained the pre-fame Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey is being dismantled daily.

In 2010 the Daily Mail reported on the growing gap in music provision between the state and private school systems. In the state sector local authorities were spending less than half the amount on music teaching that they did 20 years earlier: as little as £1.15 a child per year. “On top of this, families who can afford private school fees are often affluent enough to pay for extra music tuition, for equipment such as drum kits, guitars, amps, and also for rehearsal space,” it said. When the Daily Mailbemoans this trend, you know there’s something afoot.

Does it matter? Surely Noel Gallagher is no better than Nick Drake just because he went to a Burnage comp rather than Marl­borough? Of course not. But pop culture should reflect the lives of its people in all their vibrancy, challenge and hurly-burly, not the rarified interests and experiences of a few. Most modern indie bands’ lyrics seem to be either turgid chunks of half-digested philosophy or indulgent disquisitions on the singer’s fragile emotional microclimate. It is telling that the last alternative bands to emerge with lyrics that observed the world around them wittily and pungently were Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys, both from working-class backgrounds in Yorkshire. One can go further. The best art, and the best pop music certainly, has always been made by smart, impassioned outsiders such as Cocker or Morrissey, or by the cussed and ornery: the likes of Lennon or John Lydon. Conflict, be it generational, geographical or economic, is the turbine that drives art forward, the grit in the oyster that makes the pearl. At the risk of sounding like a classist gimp, grittiness is surely not the prevailing ambience at Bedales and Harrow. The silencing of other, rougher voices brings with it a creeping blandness.


Martin Parr

Martin Parr - documenting subjectivities 
Martin Parr, who was born in 1952, and who grew up in suburban Surrey, today exhibits widely. In addition, his work can be found regularly in newspapers, magazines and journals. Nationally and internationally respected, Parr and his work are described in Contemporary Photographers (1995:800) thus:

Martin Parr can be considered generally as the leading light of the ?New Colour Documentary? school of eighties British and European photography. As such he has been a major influence upon young photographers, both as a protagonist and a teacher. His style has been imitated extensively, but in the original, is marked by an aggressive, typically British coolness and a gleeful propensity for eccentricity and the foibles of human existence. These qualities are presented for our inspection in a manner that seems somewhat insistent and unyielding compared to the methods of the traditional documentary photographers.

Parr is fascinated with holiday resorts such as Scarborough and Morecambe, and the ?brash side of English life,? as he has described it. One of his earliest photographic essays was made at Harry Ramsden?s fish and chip shop just outside Bradford, when he was about 16 years old. He says himself that he portrayed the shop as being bleaker than it actually was, as quite a sad sort of place. Even at this early stage he was searching for a way of expressing the fact that he identified with the places that he was photographing. He knew that they would soon become outdated, as society and culture moved on.

This theme of Britishness characterises much of Parr?s work. He is interested in the way people decorate their living rooms and socialise on holiday; in the values, attitudes and ways of life that are being eroded or are under threat. The trivia and ordinariness of everyday life appears regularly in Parr?s photographs, and represents a resistance to the homogenisation of society and the erosion of individual national identities. Thus, in the exhibition The Last Resort (1986), a study of the seaside town of New Brighton on the Wirrall, Parr photographs the ways that family groups act and behave together. He includes the screaming, the crying, the good and the bad points which are revealed and on display during a day out at the seaside.

The best way to describe Parr?s work, then, is ?subjective documentary?. Writing in the catalogue for the exhibition On The Bright Side of Life (1997) Brett Rogers describes this school of contemporary British photography as follows:

The revitalisation of documentary begun by (Tony) Ray Jones and continued by such individuals as Martin Parr, Paul Graham, Chris Killip, John Davies and Jem Southam was motivated by radically new perception of its function. Like their American counterparts, the British photographers had undergone a disillusionment with documentary practice, realising that its objectivity was mythical, that its claims to reveal the ?truth?? were spurious, and finally but most fundamentally that it had failed to effect any real change in the world. The ethical problem they posed themselves was how to respond to the radical social and political changes occurring in Britain while not succumbing to the old myths about the power of the documentary aesthetic.


In using photography to explore the physical and cultural climate of Britain in the light of the economic, social and political changes and the post-industrial climate of the late twentieth century, Parr and his contemporaries are arguing that photography is fundamentally subjective. It is about re-presentation, not representation; that is about the ?re-presentation? of visual material in a way that acknowledges the thoughts, feelings, preferences and ideologies of the photographer; it is about acknowledging the subjectivity of the photographer who, even within the tradition of so-called documentary photography, can never portray a subject as it ?really is?. The photographer always works from a specific and individual point of view.



Foucault and His Panopticon

Foucault and His Panopticon

by Moya K. Mason

Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault

Above all else, Michel Foucault believed in the freedom of people. He also realized that as individuals, we react to situations in different ways. His used his books as a vehicle to show the various factors that interact and collide in his analyzation of change and its effects. As a philosophical historian and an observer of human relations, his work focused on the dominant genealogical and archaeological knowledge systems and practices, tracking them through different historical eras, including the social contexts that were in place that permitted change - the nature of power in society. He wrote that power "reaches into the very grain of individuals, touches their bodies and inserts itself into their actions and attitudes, their discourses, learning processes and everyday lives" (Foucault 1980,30).

Along with other social theorists, Foucault believed that knowledge is always a form of power, but he took it a step further and told us that knowledge can be gained from power; producing it, not preventing it. Through observation, new knowledge is produced. In his view, knowledge is forever connected to power, and often wrote them in this way: power/knowledge. Foucault's theory states that knowledge is power:

Knowledge linked to power, not only assumes the authority of 'the truth' but has the power to make itself true. All knowledge, once applied in the real world, has effects, and in that sense at least, 'becomes true.' Knowledge, once used to regulate the conduct of others, entails constraint, regulation and the disciplining of practice. Thus, 'there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time, power relations (Foucault 1977,27).

For him, power exists everywhere and comes from everywhere; it was a key concept because it acts as a type of relation between people, a complex form of strategy, with the ability to secretly shape another's behaviour. Foucault did not view the effects of power negatively. For him, power didn't exclude, repress, censor, mask, and conceal. Foucault saw it as a producer of reality: "it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth" (Foucault 1977,194). The importance for him always lay in the effect that power has on entire networks, practices, the world around us, and how our behaviour can be affected, not power itself.

One of the techniques/regulatory modes of power/knowledge that Foucault cited was the Panopticon, an architectural design put forth by Jeremy Bentham in the mid-19th Century for prisons, insane asylums, schools, hospitals, and factories. Instead of using violent methods, such as torture, and placing prisoners in dungeons that were used for centuries in monarchial states around the world, the progressive modern democratic state needed a different sort of system to regulate its citizens. The Panopticon offered a powerful and sophisticated internalized coercion, which was achieved through the constant observation of prisoners, each separated from the other, allowing no interaction, no communication. This modern structure would allow guards to continually see inside each cell from their vantage point in a high central tower, unseen by the prisoners. Constant observation acted as a control mechanism; a consciousness of constant surveillance is internalized.

Foucault's Panopticon
Foucault's Panopticon

The Panopticon was a metaphor that allowed Foucault to explore the relationship between 1.) systems of social control and people in a disciplinary situation and, 2.) the power-knowledge concept. In his view, power and knowledge comes from observing others. It marked the transition to a disciplinary power, with every movement supervised and all events recorded. The result of this surveillance is acceptance of regulations and docility - a normalization of sorts, stemming from the threat of discipline. Suitable behaviour is achieved not through total surveillance, but by panoptic discipline and inducing a population to conform by the internalization of this reality. The actions of the observer are based upon this monitoring and the behaviours he sees exhibited; the more one observes, the more powerful one becomes. The power comes from the knowledge the observer has accumulated from his observations of actions in a circular fashion, with knowledge and power reinforcing each other. Foucault says that "by being combined and generalized, they attained a level at which the formation of knowledge and the increase in power regularly reinforce one another in a circular process" (Foucault 1977).

For Foucault, the real danger was not necessarily that individuals are repressed by the social order but that they are "carefully fabricated in it" (Foucault, 1977), and because there is a penetration of power into the behaviour of individuals. Power becomes more efficient through the mechanisms of observation, with knowledge following suit, always in search of "new objects of knowledge over all the surfaces on which power is exercised" (Foucault 1977).

When only certain people or groups of people control knowledge, oppression is a possibility. We need to find out who is recording our actions. At least then we will know who has power and who doesn't.

But what happens to all the knowledge that is collected through mechanisms of power? Isn't that the most important question? Foucault painted us a picture but left it up to us to create a process for resistance, and to figure out how to resolve conflicts ourselves. He gave us instruments of analysis, but offered no weapons.

Where can we draw the line between security and freedom, especially when modern surveillance technology is increasingly used in urban public spaces to control or modify behaviour, tracking people who aren't incarcerated, but mobile and innocently going about their business? Who determines what our rights are? Can we make the rules together?

Can we mobilize counter-power to form a resistance against the pervasiveness of an increasingly intrusive electronic society that is trying to manage the information it is tracking and collecting? Can we wage our own battles and develop some strategies to help us retain a semblance of individual anonymity and privacy? Can we develop our own system of power/knowledge as a form of resistance? Or should we just surrender to it? Surrender to the unseen power that endeavours to control us from afar? Or should we continue to adapt and submissively, quietly accept the prevailing philosophy of an increasingly monitored society? Or should we try to overcome?

If power systems are already immersed in society, does smart mob technology offer any real opportunities for significant counter-power? Should we even bother to hope that we can change the world? Who or what should we develop a resistance against, if we want to see real change? Foucault says it is better to forget the State in our struggle against power, and instead, concentrate on local struggles. Are recent street protests against globalization a good point of departure? Can we really expect that the right thing will be done just because? Can local cooperation and resistance make a difference globally?

Can smart mobs help by allowing us to organize even more appropriate and more mobilized counter-power protests, and offer a more sophisticated avenue for defending democratic liberties and personal rights? It may be possible that coordination and cooperation, brought about by smart mob technologies, will help us to acquire new forms of social power by organizing just in time and just in place. Perhaps the real power of smart mob technologies lies in their ability to act as agents of change; one group at a time, one place at a time.

Related Papers

Jeremy Bentham and Rhetoric



Social Anthropology is the comparative study of the ways in which people live in different social and cultural settings across the globe. Societies vary enormously in how they organise themselves, the cultural practices in which they engage, as well as their religious, political and economic arrangements.



Ben Rivers

Ben Rivers is a filmmaker. The show?s title comes from a phrase once heard by the writer Paul Bowles while living in Morocco, and that country provides the unifying motif for the five films here, most of which are projected within large, makeshift wooden spaces built from salvaged BBC sets. There?s a loose adaptation of a famously brutal Bowles short story about desert bandits, using local Moroccan non-actors ? except that the film also reveals its own making, with scenes being redone and clapboards being clacked. This theme of fabrication extends to the other works too: from recordings of Mohammed Mrabet, Bowles?s muse, telling enthralling and long-winded stories to two films using behind-the-scenes footage of other movies simultaneously being filmed in Morocco, to material shot by Rivers when he was working for one of those other filmmakers?


Confused? That?s sort of the point. The idea is for different levels of reality and fiction to blend and intertwine, with the Moroccan landscape acting as a sort of stage set, a background against which different imaginings can be projected ? a Morocco of the mind, you might call it. Yet while Rivers?s footage is often austerely beautiful, the intertextual referencing occasionally starts to grate and the sheer, meandering length of some pieces can render them a little mundane. In the end, it?s the location ? the real, BBC environment ? that?s the star of the show.




social science and politicspower is the ability to influence or outright control the behavior of people. The term "authority" is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to humans as social beings. In business, power is often expressed as being "upward" or "downward". With downward power, a company's superior influences subordinates. When a company exerts upward power, it is the subordinates who influence the decisions of their leader or leaders.

The use of power need not involve force or the threat of force (coercion). At one extreme, it closely resembles what an English-speaking person might term "influence", although some authors distinguish "influence" as a means by which power is used. One such example is soft power, as compared to hard power.

Much of the recent sociological debate about power revolves around the issue of its means to enable – in other words, power as a means to make social actions possible as much as it may constrain or prevent them. The philosopher Michel Foucault saw power as a structural expression of "a complex strategic situation in a given social setting" that requires both constraint and enablement.







    >'Husbands' John Cassavets











Social constructionism or the social construction of reality (also social concept) is a theory of knowledge in sociology andcommunication theory that examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality. The theory centers on the notions that human beings rationalize their experience by creating models of the social world and share and reify these models through language



In terms of background, social constructionism is rooted in "symbolic interactionism" and "phenomenology."[3][4] With Berger and Luckman's The Social Construction of Realitypublished in 1966, this concept found its hold. More than four decades later, a sizable number of theory and research pledged to the basic tenet that people "make their social and cultural worlds at the same time these worlds make them."[4] It is a viewpoint that uproots social processes "simultaneously playful and serious, by which reality is both revealed and concealed, created and destroyed by our activities."[4] It provides a substitute to the "Western intellectual tradition" where the researcher "earnestly seeks certainty in a representation of reality by means of propositions."[4]

In social constructionist terms, "taken-for-granted realities" are cultivated from "interactions between and among social agents;" furthermore, reality is not some objective truth "waiting to be uncovered through positivist scientific inquiry."[4] Rather, there can be "multiple realities that compete for truth and legitimacy."[4] Social constructionism understands the "fundamental role of language and communication" and this understanding has "contributed to the linguistic turn" and more recently the "turn to discourse theory."[4][5] The majority of social constructionists abide by the belief that "language does not mirror reality; rather, it constitutes [creates] it."[4]

A broad definition of social constructionism has its supporters and critics in the organizational sciences.[4] A constructionist approach to various organizational and managerial phenomena appear to be more commonplace and on the rise.[4]

Andy Lock and Tom Strong trace some of the fundamental tenets of social constructionism back to the work of the 18th century Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist Giambattista Vico.[6]



The autonomist movement gathered itself around the free radio movement, such as Onda Rossa in Rome, Radio Alice in Bologna,Controradio in Firenze, Radio Sherwood in Padova, and other local radios, giving it a diffusion in the whole country. It also published several newspapers and magazines which were circulated nationally, above all Rosso in Milan, I Volsci in Rome, Autonomia in Padua and A/traversoin Bologna. It was a decentralized, localist network or "area" of movements, particularly strong in Rome, Milan, Padua and Bologna, but at its height in 1977 was also often present in small towns and villages where not even the Italian Communist Party (PCI) was present

There was also an armed tendency known as autonomia armata (armed autonomy).

People such as Oreste ScalzoneFranco Piperno, professor in Calabria University, Toni Negri in Padova or Franco Berardi, aka Bifo, at Radio Alice were the movement's most well-known figures. The movement became particularly active in March 1977, after the police in Bologna killed Francesco Lo Russo, a member of Lotta Continua. This event gave rise to a series of demonstrations in various parts of Italy. Bologna University and Rome La Sapienza University were occupied by students. On orders from Interior MinisterFrancesco Cossiga the carabinieri surrounded Bologna's university area. This repression met with some international protest, in particular from French philosophers Michel FoucaultJean-Paul SartreGilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, who also denounced the Italian Communist Party's (PCI) opposition to the University occupation. The PCI was supporting at this time Eurocommunism and the historic compromise with the Christian Democrats.





VIDEO: The Story of Glenn O'Brien's 'TV Party'


TATE ON SOCIAL PRACTICE http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/s/socially-engaged-practice

Social practice and activism

Socially engaged practice can be associated with activism because it often deals with political issues. Artists who work within this field will often spend much time integrating into the specific community which they wish to help, educate or simply share with. Artist Rick Lowe explains:

You have to spend years developing relationships…  It’d be an arrogant disregard of a community to come in and think you can grasp all the complexities of a place in a short time. 
Interview with Carolina A. Miranda, LA Times, 2014

The artists’ aim could be to help this community work towards a common goal, raise awareness and encourage conversation around issues, or perhaps to improve their physical or psychological conditions. 

In focus: Assemble

Assemble Group Photo 2014
Assemble Group Photo 2014

2015’s winners of the Turner Prize, Assemble, are a perfect example of artists using socially engaged practise because they collaborate with residents to improve their local area.


quote from assemble 'The thing i really like about the Granby project is how it can mean so many different things so different people, for some people its 'art' for some it its the street they have lived their entire lives on and are battling to save, then for others its a brand new house to live in'









Words fall like raindrops in Anna Barham's animation Proteus. True to the work's title, they are shape-shifters, morphing from one phrase to the next: "strange outline"; "up rears tail"; "el transmutation". Barham's poetry is one made entirely of anagrams. It's always surreal, packed with nonsensical asides as well as lines that are unexpected delights. "Tasting lemon rapture; purring at lemon taste" is one of the gems from her artist's book, Return to Leptis Magna.

These four words (and the ancient Roman city they refer to) are at the heart of the young London-based artist's work. She's revisited them over and over in her videos, drawings and performances, where they have yielded a staggering number of anagrams. For Barham, Leptis Magna is very much a city of the imagination.

The "real" site on the Libyan coast is now a ruin. She has never been there: her only physical encounter with it was in Windsor, where a number of its stones were transplanted from their arid home during the 19th century and resurrected as a folly in the lush surrounds of Virginia Water. Leptis Magna is also the place where the modern alphabet originated. For Barham, who studied sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art, letters become the building blocks for refashioning those ruins into something new.'




VIDEO: 'Self-Publishers of the World Take Over FULL MOVIE'



zine (/?zi?n/ ZEEN; an abbreviation of fanzine or magazine) is most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier.

'Zines are self-published, small-circulation, often nonprofit books, papers, or websites. They usually deal with topics too controversial or niche for mainstream media, presented in an unpolished layout and unusual design. Everyone, from a major NGO to a teenager like you, can be an author (and also an editor, art director, and publisher) of a zine, and that’s part of what makes them so awesome.'

'Zines are super powerful! They can communicate rebellious words and strong ideas. People who feel a burning need to share their energy with the world make zines, so it’s no coincidence that zine culture is often associated with some of the most energetic movements: punk, feminist, queer, etc. Some publications that sprang from those subcultures, like the punk fanzine Chainsaw, enjoyed cult status; others, like Bitch, got so popular that they turned into regular magazines that you can find in bookstores.'

-From Rookie article on Zines http://www.rookiemag.com/2012/05/how-to-make-a-zine/






Presentation of work to group:

Powerpoint format presenting my growing practise for this term, which began discussing BIRKENHEAD NORTH and the social clensing occuring in my home town, Simialr








VIDEO: Bernie Sanders 'Trickle Down'

VIDEO: theTRUTH: Trickle Down Economics Dont Work


VIDEO: 'Cutting It: 'Big Society' and the new austerity'


Sociocultural anthropology draws together the principle axes of cultural anthropology and social anthropology. Cultural anthropology is the comparative study of the manifold ways in which people make sense of the world around them, while social anthropology is the study of the relationships among persons and groups. Cultural anthropology is more related to philosophy, literature and the arts (how one's culture affects experience for self and group, contributing to more complete understanding of the people's knowledge, customs, and institutions), while social anthropology is more related to sociology and history. in that it helps develop understanding of social structures, typically of others and other populations (such as minorities, subgroups, dissidents, etc.). There is no hard-and-fast distinction between them, and these categories overlap to a considerable degree.

Inquiry in sociocultural anthropology is guided in part by cultural relativism, the attempt to understand other societies in terms of their own cultural symbols and values. Accepting other cultures in their own terms moderates reductionism in cross-cultural comparison. This project is often accommodated in the field of ethnography. Ethnography can refer to both a methodology and the product of ethnographic research, i.e. an ethnographic monograph. As methodology, ethnography is based upon long-term fieldwork within a community or other research site. Participant observation is one of the foundational methods of social and cultural anthropology. Ethnology involves the systematic comparison of different cultures. The process of participant-observation can be especially helpful to understanding a culture from an emic (conceptual, vs. etic, or technical) point of view.



Jeremy Deller (born 1966) is an English conceptualvideo and installation artist. Much of Deller's work is collaborative; it has a strong political aspect, in the subjects dealt with and also the devaluation of artistic ego through the involvement of other people in the creative process.


Jeremy Dellers work with an individual who made the banners that represented English mining communities and trade unions.








Here are the rules:

1. Use high visual magnetism. On average, only a small number of ads in an issue of a magazine will capture the attention of any one reader. Some ads will be passed by because the subject matter is of no concern. But others, even though they may have something to offer, fail the very first test of stopping the reader scanning the pages. Ads perish right at the start because, at one extreme they just lie there on the page, flat and gray, and at the other extreme, they are cluttered, noisy and hard to read. An ad should be constructed so a single component dominates the area – a picture, the headline or the text – but not the company name or the logo. Obviously, the more pertinent the picture, the more arresting the headline, the more informative the copy appears to be, the better.

2. Select the right audience. Often, an ad is the first meeting place of two parties looking for each other. So there should be something in the ad that at first glance will enable readers to identify it as a source of information relating to their job interests – a problem they have or an opportunity they will welcome. This is done with either a picture or a headline – preferably both. The ad should say immediately to the reader, “Hey, this is for you.”

3. Invite the reader into the scene. Within the framework of the layout, the graphic designer’s job is to visualize, illuminate and dramatize the selling proposition. The graphic designer must consider that the type of job a reader has dictates the selection of the illustrative material. Design engineers work with drawings. Construction engineers like to see products at work. Chemical engineers are comfortable with flow charts. Managers relate to pictures of people, and so on.

4. Promise a reward. An ad will survive the qualifying round only if readers are given reason to expect they will learn something of value. A brag-and-boast headline, a generalization, or advertising platitude will turn readers off before they get to the message. The reward can be explicit or implicit and can even be stated negatively, in the form of a warning of a possible loss. The promise should be specific.

5. Back up the promise. To make the promise believable, the ad must provide hard evidence that the claim is valid. Sometimes, a description of the product’s design or operating characteristics will be enough to support the claim. Comparison with competition can be convincing. Case histories make the reward appear attainable. Best of all are testimonials. “They-say” advertising carries more weight than “We-say” advertising.

6. Present sequence logically. The job of the graphic designer is to organize the parts of an ad so that there is an unmistakable entry point (the single dominant component referred to earlier) and the reader is guided through the material in a sequence consistent with the logical development of the selling proposition.

7. Talk person-to-person. Copy is more persuasive when it speaks to the reader as an individual – as if it were one friend telling another friend about a good thing. Terms should be the terms of the reader’s business, not the advertiser’s business. But more than that, the writing style should be simple: short words, short sentences, short paragraph, active rather than passive voice, no clichés, frequent use of the personal pronoun “you.”

8. Be easy to read. Font should be no smaller than 9points. It should appear black on white. It should stand clear of interference from any other part of the ad. Column width should not be more than half of the width of the ad.

9. Emphasize the service. Many B2B advertisers insist that the company name or logo be the biggest thing in the ad, that the company name appear in the headline, that it be set in boldface wherever it appears in the copy. That’s too much. An ad should make readers want to buy – or at least consider buying – before telling them where to buy.

10. Reflect company character. A company’s advertising represents its best opportunity (better than the sales force) to portray the company’s personality – the things that will make the company liked, respected, admired. Messy ads tend to indicate a messy company. Brag-and-boast ads suggest the company is maker-oriented, not user-oriented. Whatever it is, personality should be consistent over time and across the spectrum of corporate structure and product lines.


VIDEO: The Boot Estate 'The worst estate in Europe'


Film by Stuart Nicholas White, 'A short film I shot in 2 days in 2005. During the run up to Liverpool being European Capital of Culture 2008 I found a housing estate whose residents had been pushed & pulled in all directions in order to create a new 'space age' estate. It did not quite go to plan.'


VIDEO: Extract from the BBC documentary 'History of Now: The Story of the Noughties' Last broadcast on Mon, 15 Feb 2010



New Labour tended to emphasise the idea of social justice, in contrast to the idea of social equality, which tended to be Labour’s focus under politicians such as Michael Foot. Ideas such as ‘minimum standards’ and ‘equality of oppurtunity’ started to emerge under Blair, sweeping aside concepts such as ‘equality of outcome’, which had started to develop into an aim during Old Labour’s moresocialist history. Blair, sensing the toxic brand that Old Labour had become, removed any notion that communist ideals remained in the Labour Party by implementing a sense of merit into his policies, while retaining the more left-wing value of equal oppurtunities. For example, it is under New Labour that the minimum wage was introduced in April 1999, after being a central plank of Tony Blair’s 1997 election manifesto. The policy was hailed as one of the most successful in 30 years, and it is from this  realm of ideals that New Labour morphed from its previous self into a more centrist party, dedicated to appealing to a broad spectrum of voters from a multitude of classes and backgrounds. Here lies the basis of Old and New Labour’s ideological differences, and perhaps the basis of Miliband’s sentiment that New Labour became weak and complacent: from a desire to please everyone spawned an inability to do so in a competent manner.









Stonehenge is a site of concentric rings of stone, an avenue, and paths leading to nearby burial sites. The stone circles are situated on a henge, an area enclosed by a bank and ditch; the surrounding circular ditch is 340 feet in diameter and five feet deep. There are four stone alignments?two are circles and two others are horseshoe-shaped patterns. The outer circle is about 100 feet in diameter and originally consisted of 30 upright stones (17 still stand), weighing an average of 25 tons and linked on top by a ring of stones. The stones, composed of Sarsen, a kind of sandstone, average about 26 feet in height. Pairs of standing stones are topped by a series of lintels?a term that describes an object that rests across two pillars, similar to the top part of a doorway.

Several theories have emerged about when Stonehenge was erected and the purposes it served. Stonehenge begins being mentioned in recorded history during the twelfth century, most notably by Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1100?1154) in his History of the Kings of Britain. Geoffrey's history freely mixes documented events with folklore and contains many chronological inaccuracies. Still, his fanciful story of how Stonehenge was erected on Salisbury Plain remained popular for centuries. Geoffrey credited Stonehenge to Merlin, a wizard most often associated with the legendary King Arthur.


flooding in malaysia, more than 200,000 people were affected while 21 were killed. this flood have been described as the worst floods in decades


Art. Education. Social Class.

Interrogating Context: Art. Education. Social Class.

Posted on 07/04/2011 by imnotkarencarpenter

“We believe, don’t we, that art is for everyone? That just as you shouldn’t be denied good healthcare because you’ve got less money, you shouldn’t be able to experience better art because you’re rich. Art is essential for dealing with the tricky condition we call human. Access to it is not a luxury, it’s a right worth fighting for” .

Art and class have always been intrinsically linked. Inasmuch as art is part of and not independent from society and class divisions mark society. Contemporary art faces the dilemma that its audience is narrowed only to those whom are very rich and those who are privileged enough to be educated within its traditions. The realm of the arts has weak relations with the working class as private finance has unequal influence on the visual arts; therefore, increased government funding for arts institutions enables a wider participation.

With recession raging through society, millions of job losses in prospect and politicians’ expenses pored over by an increasingly angry electorate, now feels like a good time to represent the working class through artistic practices.

Some argue with the end of Thatcherism in Britain in 1992, and the leadership of John Major [who was state educated and never attended university] we became a classless society. However, class still has a credible influence over British people’s sense of identity and with 55 per cent of people surveyed by ICM in 1998 considered themselves working-class, over half of the British public at 53 per cent of respondents [of the same poll in 2007] defined themselves as part of the same social group.

The stereotypes of working class can be found in many examples of contemporary art and within British social documentary you cannot avoid the notions of class. Artist such asBillingham create photos that make for uncomfortable viewing for the middle class patrons who frequent the art galleries his work has been shown in. Showing lives of those who are not only poor and on the fringes of society, but who are often repulsive to the viewer, stereotyped with problems like obesity and alcoholism which is so prevalent in negative social stereotyping of the working class.

 ‘Richard Billingham didn’t care about how his family ought to look when he turned his gaze on them and their situation at the heart of working class life in Thatcher’s Britain’.

The key phrase I believe in the previous quote is ‘ought to look’. In society we are incredibly self-aware of the image that we present to others of ourselves. To show our families in dire circumstances, such as living on a council estate; as alcoholics , domestic abusers and obese layabouts is almost unheard of. Surely we want to paint a positive image of where we come from, or at least hide it out of view if that’s not the case?

Historically art has been a way for society to show off its greatest achievements- portraiture showed us war heroes, politicians, people of tremendous wealth and power of whom Britain will undeniably be proud of then, now and possibly forever. But Billingham’s work includes people within society of whom we’re inclined to think as of disgusting. But it isn’t shocking should you be unfortunate enough to come from such a background, which millions of people in this country do.

“My Mum will be looking at the book and if she hasn’t got full concentration on it she will say, ‘Pass me a fag, Ray.’ They relate to the work but I don’t think they recognize the media interest in it, or the importance. I don’t think that they think anything of it, really. They are not shocked by it, or anything. We’re used to living in poverty.”

But these people are ignored, we pretend they know nothing of art and only of poverty. Spending their days in the bookmakers, their evenings in the pub and their lives on the dole or working in a factory. Divided from the rich by postcodes, intellect and the way they speak. In Britain we like to pretend that you’re something special, a rare commodity if you’re born into a working class family and happen to have a high level of intellect. This intellect allows you to prosper, perhaps into university and the like and most definitely away from the home town you come from.

We are forced by society believe that these people depicted in Billingham’s work are disgusting and vile. Why would someone want to portray these kind of people in comparison to the wealthy and beautiful people which the portraiture genre is so accustomed to? In the way that portraiture was the social documentation of the middle and upper classes in the previous centuries, the work of many artists within Britain during the latter half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st have turned their focus onto the poor and disenfranchised.

Critics, once stereotyped Billingham, told him he ought to turn his focus on something else.

‘With immediate success also came immediate stereotyping as the kid from the scruffy, boozed-up family, and the recognition that he needed to find a radical new turn or be trapped’

Already bored of seeing dire poverty in their art galleries and turning a blind eye to the struggles of the common people of Great Britain. But his work unintentionally dislodged the popular belief that art was a highbrow or obscure pastime for a small wealthy elite. This kind of work became accessible to wider audiences though Billingham’s family still seemed not unduly worried by the attention, which sprang from the work.

Though not intentionally, Billingham’s work evokes a sense of a social stereotype prejudice which many patrons of the arts may fail to familiarise themselves with. Stereotypes need not necessarily be derogatory or cautionary but often they are especially within the world of Mark Billingham. Though stereotypes are –often like fables- constructed around middle class morality and they are prescriptive.

Though not portraiture, Shaw’s work is teeming with human presence and social stereotyping from his paintings it is obvious that they are of working class towns, portrayed in soap operas and programmes such as Shameless and in songs by bands such as The Smiths and more contemporarily, Arctic Monkeys. Shaw is one artist who acknowledges his roots and embraces his love of popular culture as a contextual reference.

‘‘I explore within a painterly tradition what usually gets explored through a TV drama or music. I’ve thought about this a lot and, like most things in Britain, it’s to do with class.”

Shaw often references Philip Larkin whose poem Stewing Grass is the epitome of negative attitudes of the working class from the perspective of the middle and upper classes:

“I want to see them starving,

The so-called Working Class,

Their weekly wages halving,

Their women stewing grass”

Like Billingham, Tom Hunter’s work seems to reject the idea that artists do no associate with those who are aroundthem, that they are a class above their communities and there is a distinct lack of embarrassment or shame of being‘working class’ on the part of these artists. Despite the fact that such people are often stereotyped and feared, Hunteruses the people whom he lives around in Hackney; often who are squatters or disenfranchised ’unpeople’ . His photographs make the audience feel as if the sitters should be as valued as any other members of society- but they are disenfranchised, their poverty is real.

‘He could not portray such people and such places without actively engaging the world immediately surrounding him’

Most importantly Hunter is the only contemporary artist whose work has been exhibited in the pinnacle of the upper class bourgeois- the National Gallery. Though efforts to make the Gallery free have succeeded, the building itself can be as alien to a working class person as shopping in Farm Foods may be to a Middle Class person.

Hunter’s work is involved with the community that surrounds him much like George Shawor Richard Billingham. He uses his own environment with vigour and isn’t ashamed of the marginalised people that surround him.

“Hunter’s film is not a rant, but a moving homage to lives and memories that today are obliterated by harsh and violent caricatures of the white working class”.

He reveres them and builds them upon a pedestal and strips away any negative stereotyping- by encompassing them into photographs that are staged in an art historical way. Hunter often pictures these subjects alone which generates wider intimate understanding and a sense of individual worth.

‘Tom Hunter with the intention of reminding the Middle Class bourgeois of uncomfortable realities of life in other parts of London’.

He gives his participants a new sense of human worth and equality within his practice despite their disenfranchised state within our divided society. ’Living in Hell’ references other people’s opinions of the area he lives and polarises and announces the class division within London and Great Britain by placing his work within the context of the National Gallery. This shows we live far from a classless, egalitarian society. Hunter’s work echoes back to artists such as Hogarth’s- he puts the stories in a historical context which remind us that generations before us have suffered the same savagery for centuries at the hands of those in power.

 However, as previously discussed in relation to Billingham’s work art has always had it wealthy patrons and portraiture has historically been seen as a tool for the elite to illustrate their wealth and self-importance. Artist Emma Tooth uses the juxtaposition of the historical paradigm of art and the contemporary society of Britain in the medium in of oil painting. Unlike Hunter and Billingham, the work seems a little contrite. Not due to the fact that her work doesn’t benefit from the contextual historical background because it does. My problem with her practice is that she pulls people from the street. She doesn’t know the people- or share their plight. In a way I see it as exploitation of the poor, for the artist’s own ends. It hankers to the idea of worthlessness- she doesn’t support the vulnerable; she makes them more so by exploiting them in her portraiture. Her work is not a statement other than these people are disenfranchised- she does nothing to help them and gives the audience nothing more to think about apart from them being able to uphold their opinions about tracksuit clad youths and pregnant teenagers. The work does not hold any authenticity due to the fact she does not know these people or has to endure living within their community. Nor has she researched the background and context of the people or places she uses merely to justify her own ends.

Though indirectly linked into Billingham, Tooth and Hunter’s practice the political landscape of the UK at the present time cannot be ignored when talking about class or the disenfranchised individuals portrayed in their work. In the age of austerity where cuts to our front line services, mass unemployment and social unrest causes for concern artist’s who look the social inequality may prevail and this would not be for the first time within the art world: ‘Crash in the 1929 and the Depression, artists, writers, photographers and filmmakers became increasingly politicised and focused attention on working class subjects and themes of social inequality’. The vote to raise the tuition fees and the decrease in funding for the arts and humanities mean that university again becomes a privilege and not a right. Young people are facing the worst attacks on their jobs and living standards seen in generations. Among the most brutal attacks is the onslaught on the right to an education.

By raising tuition and scrapping EMA these measures will lead us back to an era when education was a privilege only to be enjoyed by a tiny minority of very wealthy people rather than a right to be had by all. The demonstrations by students at the end of last year showed that young people are ready to fight for their futures. Without this funding people like myself may not afford to study and may prohibit future generations from studying within the realm of the arts, leaving it open for middle and upper class students only.

 Many have said that class is a dead notion in the world we live in but I disagree. Even artists such as Jake Chapman are trying to intervene with their ‘Can’t Pay Your Fees. We’ll pay your fine’ campaign.

“I think it is at the very root of Right-wing thinking, which is to disempower social mobility. I can’t promote violence because I would be arrested, that would be self-defeating. I absolutely have empathy for the degree of aggression and anger that those students have.”

But art is often defined as a luxury commodity and access to art education is largely (and increasingly) determined by income-level and privilege; art education should be defended and made universal. Creative expression needs to be redefined: it should not be thought of as a privilege, but as a basic human right. Because creative expression is a basic human need, it should be treated as a right to which everyone is entitled. Creativity and intelligence is not akin to social class. Everyone has the right to be creative in the same way that we all have the right to the freedom of speech. To meter out education and creativity to those who can afford it means we are single handedly destroying our chances, as a country, to be one of the leading members of the creative global community.


palestinian children look out of their destroyed home.



Grayson Perry: 'Taste is woven into our class system'

Your taste depends on your class, says Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry – and he has created six new tapestries to illustrate his point.

Ever since I was a child I have been very aware of the visual environment people build around themselves. When I got older, I wanted to decode their choices. Why did my Nan’s front room, with its brass ornaments and pot plants, look like it did? Why do middle-class people love organic food and recycling? Why does the owner of a castle and 6,000 acres wear a threadbare tweed jacket? People seem to be curating their possessions to communicate consciously, or more often unconsciously, where they want to fit into society.

The British care about taste because it is inextricably woven into our system of social class. I think that – more than any other factor, more than age, race, religion or sexuality – one’s social class determines one’s taste. The anthropologist Kate Fox, in her book Watching the English (2004), observes that, even amid the homogenised dress codes of youth, class plays a part. A middle-class teenager may still wear a hoodie but it will be a more cotton-rich brand, or they will sport a toned-down version of the fashionable haircut, such is the pervasiveness of bourgeois regard for authenticity and restraint.

I am not an anthropologist, though; neither am I a sociologist or a design historian. I am an artist, so when I was given the chance to present a television series – last year’s Bafta-winning Channel 4 documentary All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry – I wanted to use the opportunity to research a series of artworks about class and taste.

I decided to make a series of six tapestries. I usually choose a medium because of the resonances it has acquired; tapestries are grand – they hang in the vast saloons and bedchambers of ancestral piles, they often depict classical myths or military victories.

I thought it refreshing to use tapestries – traditionally status symbols of the rich – to depict a commonplace drama (though not as common as it should be): the drama of social mobility. As a working-class grammar-school boy from the tail-end of the “baby boomer” generation, social mobility is a theme close to my heart.

The Agony in the Car Park, 2012, by Grayson Perry (Grayson Perry/Victoria Miro Gallery, London)

As we oiks climb the greasy pole, we may pick up a deceptively authentic-looking set of middle-class predilections: a book-lined study, a modest grubby car, a full wine rack and original window frames. All the while, from deep inside our urbane metropolitan exterior, an embarrassing former self wails from his oubliette: “I want a gold Porsche.” Such a primal desire for the gewgaws of one’s culture of origin lead to the downfall of the hero of my tapestries, Tim Rakewell.

Class is something bred into us like a religious faith. We drink in our aesthetic heritage with our mother’s milk, with our mates at the pub, or on the playing fields of Eton. We learn the texture of our place in the world from the curlicue of a neck tattoo, the clank of a Le Creuset casserole dish, or the scent of a mouldering hunting print. A childhood spent marinating in the material culture of one’s class means taste is soaked right through you. Cut me and, beneath the thick crust of Islington, it still says “Essex” all the way through.

As with many aspects of our behaviour, a lot of the interesting stuff happens when we think we are not even making a decision. It’s those default settings we all have, those unexamined “natural” and “normal” choices, which often say the most about us: where and when we eat, when and where we might expose a bit of flesh, the kind of curtains we buy, what television you watch, how you bring up your children. We often become aware of these unconscious choices only when we move between social classes. I think my middle-class wife screamed when I first came into the kitchen without a shirt on.

In my series of six works, The Vanity of Small Differences, we follow the life of Tim Rakewell, from humble birth to famous death. The main thread of this journey is his progress through the social strata of modern British society. Nearly all of the places, people and objects that feature in the work were inspired by my televised taste safari.

We chose the three locations for our television series – Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and the Cotswolds – because they are each already strongly identified with the social classes. Sunderland has a proud working-class heritage from its heyday as a mining and shipbuilding town. The phrase “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” – referring to a fictional writer of letters of complaint, invented by staff at the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser in the Fifties – makes this town almost synonymous with conservative middle-class values. The Cotswolds have also become associated with a deeply rooted, landed upper class, owing to the prevalence of mellow, limestone stately homes among the rolling hills of this scenic area.

The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, 2012 (Grayson Perry / Victoria Miro Gallery, London)

Within each social group, taste seems to play a slightly different role. When I asked club singer Sean Foster-Conley what I should feature in my tapestries to show working-class taste, he said “the mines and shipyards”. “But they no longer exist,” I replied. In a very important way, however, he was right. The heavy industries that shaped the north of England also shaped the emotional lives of the generations of people who lived there. Winding towers and cranes can be torn down in a day, but the bonds, formed through shared hardship working under them, live on. Taste is an emotional business; working-class people often talk of a strong sense of community, and taste decisions are often made to demonstrate loyalty to the clan. Now that those communities are no longer held together by working in the same mine, mill or shipyard, call-centre workers or spray-tanners pledge allegiance to a locale, to their friends and family, through football, soap operas, bodybuilding, tattoos, hot cars, elaborate hairstyles and the ritual of dressing up for a Friday night on the town.

Among the gentry, taste also binds the tribe, but not much personal expression seems to be involved. The word that kept cropping up with the people I met was “appropriate”. The owners of grand country houses were custodians of a scene that they were unwilling to let change. They felt deeply obliged to maintain these landmarks and the roles that come with them. Curiously, having to preserve these beautiful and costly piles has helped form the overriding aesthetic of the upper class – one of refined entropy. The houses are lovingly patched, a man wears his grandfather’s coat, the sofa collapses, and the creation of a museum of clutter is blithely encouraged.

Talking to Rollo and Janie Clifford, who own four Grade I listed properties in Gloucestershire, I thought they took pleasure from a crumbling stone staircase or her 50 year-old car, covered in stickers. When quizzed, they denied an attachment to hard-won decay and pleaded poverty. When I pointed out that Rollo carried around his papers held together by a metal clip attached to a stump of dog-chewed cardboard when he could probably afford a new clipboard, he very grudgingly admitted to an appreciation of patina. How much of this is due to lack of funds and how much to inbred taste I do not know, but, as an Englishman, even a jumped-up prole like me feels genetically drawn to crumbling, faded glory.

This elegantly arrested decomposition gives off useful signals. It says “We are not in a hurry to change and upset anyone, we have owned this for ages and therefore are not billionaire incomers, who would install a swimming pool and electric gates.”

The drama of taste really gets going when people betray their aspiration to a higher social status through their purchases. The broad swath of the British who describe themselves as the middle class are most aware of, and also the most anxious about, taste. At Kings Hill in Kent I encountered a set of unwritten rules. “Discreet branding” was a phrase that cropped up – Prada loafers with a little badge, a Paul Smith shirt with telltale eccentric buttons, a “low key” Rolex. Residents of these PVC clapboard houses sensed they had moved away from a tribe where crude bling gained respect, but they still needed the reassurance of an easily read code. Ostentation was still a difficult drug to resist – Range Rover Sports were everywhere and one resident poetically summed up the combination of pretension and banality when she described the estate as “the only place you would see a Bentley parked on a roundabout”.

The ambience of the estate was maintained by a mixture of contractual obligation (“no caravans”) and communal taboos (“no net curtains”). Talking to the residents, I found a genuine community spirit, but I sensed that for all of the convenience, security and luxury of their lifestyle, true middle-class status, if they actually wanted it, was beyond an intangible exclusion barrier. What that divide is made of, I think, is largely culture and education. The people basking on the sunlit uplands of the chattering classes have either passed through this miasmic barrier at university, or were born beyond it, where people just seem to know how to be fully middle class. Crucially, they understand that despite all the rules about taste that they have picked up by osmosis – when to wear shorts, what to name one’s child, what to serve at a kitchen supper – none of them matters; one can flout them all as long as, and this is paramount, everyone knows you are doing it on purpose. So I can buy a Porsche and have it gold-plated, but it has to be full of rubbish and dog hair, and I must NEVER, EVER wash it.

Another driver of taste that I noticed among the upper middle class was the desire to show the world that one was an upright moral citizen. In the past, a good burgher might have regularly attended church or done voluntary work; today they buy organic, recycle, drive an electric car or deny their child television. This need to pay inconvenient penance to society seems to come partly from guilt. The liberal, educated middle class have done well, but they must pay with hard labour on their allotment, or by cycling to work.

Professional aesthetes in deconstructed suits and statement spectacles would love it if there were strict overarching rules of good taste. I fear they search in vain. I started my research with a full set of prejudices about the “inferior” taste of the working class I had left behind. I now find myself agreeing with the cultural critic Stephen Bayley that good taste is that which does not alienate your peers. Shared taste helps bind the tribe. It signals to fellow adherents of a particular subculture that you understand the rules. Within the group of, say, modified hatchback drivers, there is good and bad taste in loud cars in much the same way as there is good and bad taste in installations within the art world. Outsiders may find it baffling or irritating, but that is of less importance to insiders than impressing one’s peers.'


Rodney McMillian

Rodney McMillian has a talent for setting up uncanny relationships among undistinguished objects. Many of the 18 works shown in this exhibition, titled ?Prospect Ave.,? repurpose furnishings from McMillian?s former home on Prospect Avenue in Los Angeles. Despite their domestic roots, however, they do not lend comfort. In fact, quite the opposite: McMillian?s videos, installations, paintings and sculptures trigger an overall sense of unease.



Upon entering the gallery, the visitor passed through a state of kemmering in the Council-era of Corrosion (2012), a tunnel of stitched black vinyl that covered floor, walls and ceiling, setting off the interior of the gallery as a kind of alternate world. The title of the piece alludes to a science-fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. In the story, set far in the future, ?kemmering? refers to a phase of sexuality in an androgynous alien race during which gender is decided and a mate is sought. Once the phase has passed, these beings return to a state of androgyny.

The idea of mate-finding carried into the rest of the exhibition, which was conceived around a dyadic prin- ciple. Each of the works on view, apart from one?a couch bisected by a strip of poured concrete, suggesting, perhaps, an androgynous state?had a companion piece. On the wall, for instance, hung two large works (both 2012) that consist of carpeting ripped up from McMillian?s former home, the rectilinear shapes mirroring the floor plans of the rooms the material once adorned. In the most sexually suggestive piece, an untitled sculpture from 2009, a stiff cardboard column covered in black latex paint penetrates an off-white armchair. The work?s counterpart was found in an oil painting titled 25¢ (2012), which depicts a white quarter, face up, against an inky expanse. In the painting, the circular form of the tube is flattened and its color reversed from black to white, while the armchair?s cream-hued seat becomes a rectangle of darkness.

Taking the dual quality further, the exhibition itself was split into two rooms, the second of which the viewer entered by way of a second tunnel?this one made of painted canvases. In the latter room, two videos played on monitors resting on the floor. One video features the shoed feet of someone dancing on the same brown carpeting that hung in the first room. The other is a close-up on the artist as he sings along, rather flatly, to Gloria Gaynor?s disco anthem ?I Will Survive.? His expression is borderline melancholic, and the song? about lovers parting?suggests the completion of a thematic cycle that had begun with the notion of mate seeking.

Again, however, the works are hardly sentimental. The titles further contribute to the sense of intellectual distance. One of the carpet works, for instance, is titled Carpet Painting (Bedroom and TV Room), which evokes personal spaces normally associated with leisure and entertainment but also connects the object to the rarified realm of painting. At the same time, while the composition has the visual flatness and hard-edged lines of certain modernist styles, it strips away the refinement associated with such work. In McMillian?s strange world, nothing operates on a single plane: objects shift contexts and slide between numerous dimensions.



'Last house standing on abandoned Merseyside estate almost lost forever in chip pan fire' LIVERPOOL ECHO

Charlie Wright in front of his house in Ilchester Road, Birkenhead, - the last remaining house Photo by Gavin Trafford.

The last surviving house on an abandoned estate was almost lost forever - after a chip pan fire.

Charlie Wright’s Ilchester Road terrace – once at the heart of the 600-home River Streets estate in Birkenhead – now stands amid derelict land flanked by two half-destroyed five-bedroom houses.

The surrounding community has shrunk dramatically and acres of land have been left unused, overgrown and littered with rubbish.

But Mr Wright, 63, was born in the house, is one of 10 siblings to grow up on the estate and has vowed to never leave his family home.

His commitment has caused a headache for the council which was forced to allow Mr Wright to stay when hundreds of other families were relocated.

But after funding for a modern development on the land fell through and with interest in the once-buzzing port-side community fading, Mr Wright thought his battle was won.


But a fire in his kitchen, which filled the downstairs with smoke, has threatened to level the “last house standing.

Retired boilerman Mr Wright said: “I had put a pan of chips on and was watching a film and I forgot about the chip pan.

“The next thing there was smoke filling the house. Everywhere was black, it was unbelievable.

“My dog was barking at the bottom of the door and when I opened it smoke poured in.

“I’ll never cook a pan of chips in that house ever again. It is the last house and it could have gone. But I’ll need a new kitchen and my carpets have to go.”

Merseyside fire service confirmed three engines were sent to the blaze shortly after midnight on Monday.


Charlie Wright in front of his home Photo by Gavin Trafford. 


A spokeswoman said: “The kitchen and its contents were completely damaged by fire. There was smoke damage to the remainder of the property.”

Mr Wright was taken to Arrowe Park hospital for a precautionary check-up after suffering suspected smoke inhalation.

He added: “I don’t get much pressure from the council any more. They don’t come near me but this was one of the best estates ever.

“We had everything and now we’ve got nothing, not even neighbours. It’s a tip, but I’m not bothered about the value of the house. I’m never leaving.

"I was born here - one of 10 - and I’m not going to move.

“This is a proper community, people know each other and they’ve been bringing me meals since the fire.”




  • THREAD OF YOU TUBE VIDEO 'MERSEYSIDE POLICE' VIDEOS - VIDEOS OF YOUNG 'CHAVS' SHOUTING AT, FIGHTING AND ARGUING WITH POLICE AND THEN POSTING ON YOUTUBE [references sousveillance, where the general pblic record police brutality to turn the CCTV  gaze back on the authority].











British artist Mark Leckey has unveiled a vinyl soundtrack to his autobiographical film installation Dream English Kid 1964-1999AD.

Leckey is the artist behind Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, the acclaimed short film about British nightlife which went on to inspire IVVVO?s Mark Leckey Made Me Hardcore and was sampled on Jamie xx?s In Colour LP. His latest project broadens his cultural focus from the rave era, this time spanning his whole lifetime.

'?Dream English Kid began when I found on YouTube an audio recording of Joy Division playing at a small club in Liverpool,? says Leckey. ?A gig I?d been present at but could barely remember. As I listened I wondered if, through enhancing the audio, I could actually find my 15-year-old self in the recording.?

The experience led Leckey to wonder if he could construct his memoirs ?through all the DVD re-releases, eBay ephemera, YouTube uploads,? using the internet to ?actualize half-forgotten memories and produce a niche for seemingly every remembrance.?'





The Children?s Episode will include a commission by British artist, Marvin Gaye Chetwyndwho will create a film, Dogsy Ma Bone, entirely cast, produced and directed with young people from Liverpool (register for the auditions). Liverpool?s fleet of Arriva buses will include three double-deckers transformed by artists, of which one will be designed by schoolchildren.

Reflecting on Liverpool?s radical political history, Japanese artist Koki Tanaka revisits the scene of a huge protest in Liverpool in 1985. It involved around 10,000 children, demonstrating against the Conservative government?s Youth Training Scheme. Tanaka will bring together original participants and their children for a walk through the city, from St George?s Hall to the Pier Head, retracing the original route. Children will lead the interviews for the artist?s film of the project, which will be shown at Open Eye Gallery throughout the Biennial.

In Flashback, Merseyside-born artist Mark Leckey will present Dream English Kid, a film inspired by events in his life from the 1970s to 1990s. The film will be screened alongside new sculptural works in the Saw Mill, the former entrance to the legendary Liverpool club night Cream.'





'It is a surreal sight - a single home lies stranded and alone in a large area of flattened streets in the centre of a demolished housing estate.

Inside Out meets Charlie Wright who lives in the house, which was once surrounded by 600 council properties which made up Birkenhead's River Streets.

The home is literally the "last house standing". There are no neighbours, no streets and no community.

The estate was once home to thousands of workers who sustained Birkenhead's manufacturing and shipbuilding industries.

The plan was to clear the homes to make way for new factories, but the jobs and investment failed to materialise.

Charlie is determined to stay in the neighbourhood where he has lived for 62 years, and has refused the council's offers to buy his house.

But he could be getting new neighbours at last. There are plans to transform the area as part of Wirral Waters, the UK's largest regeneration project.

Credits: Black and white archive footage is courtesy and copyright of British Pathé.

Inside Out is broadcast on Monday, 17 February at 19:30 GMT on BBC One North West and nationwide for seven days thereafter on the iPlayer.'



Download VID_27691102_005929.mp4.1 [3.31MB]








interdisciplinary processes and theory from sociology, systems analysis, cybernetics, semiotics and philosophy.


'Vision and Reality by Stephen Willats

It will come as no surprise to anyone who's read Concretopia that I am a fan of first person interviews with people who have created or lived in postwar buildings. The fashion is much more towards the visual: to record buildings on Instagram, for example, rather than to investigate what it was built for or what life is like for the tenants. Not that I have anything against that, of course, I love looking at pctures of architecture as much as the next geek. But I've been pleased to see a couple of recent publications bucking that trend ? using visual media to tell the story of the people and the place, rather than simply recording its coolness, or otherwise.

The first was Robert Clayton's book Estate, about the Lion Farm Estate,  where he'd recorded the lived of residents back in some midlands council flats in the early nineties. And now, just published, is another more extensive art project, by the artist Stephen Willats.'
Vision and Reality takes the form of photographs and interviews with residents, and each chapter opens with one of Willat's artworks, collages with text, photos and graphics to show the interrelationship between the residents and the way they live in their environment.

Mark Leckey

Described as a 'pop anthropologist' 

What he produced was a 15-minute film that he called Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore. It consisted of edited-together footage of dancers in nightclubs that, on the one hand, charted a history from 1970s northern soul to 1990s acid house; and, on the other, conveyed the pulsing, ecstatic, out-of-mind glory of the dancefloor in a churning, heady rush. The work is perfumed with wistfulness and tinged with ghostliness. It speaks of an evanescent youth: the time codes on the amateur video footage tick away ruthlessly, as eloquent a memento mori as the skull in the corner of a Holbein. The title, Leckey said, was about the notion that “something as trite and throwaway and exploitative as a jeans manufacturer can be taken by a group of people and made into something totemic, and powerful, and life-affirming.” He made it in a kind of ecstatic fugue. “I cried while I was making it. I make this stuff to feel joy and melancholy and sweet-sadness.”

Mark Leckey 'Fiorucci made me hardcore'

Mark Leckey 'Pearl Vision'



  1. strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way.
    "an uncanny feeling that she was being watched"

Thinking with 'White Dee': The Gender Politics of 'Austerity Porn'

by Kim Allen, Imogen Tyler and Sara De Benedictis
Manchester Metropolitan University; Lancaster University; King's College London

Sociological Research Online, 19 (3), 2
DOI: 10.5153/sro.3439



[Ev]ery time people look at White Dee … it will serve as a reminder to people of the mess the benefits system is in and how badly Iain Duncan Smith's reforms are needed. White Dee is bone idle and doesn't want to work another day in her life and has no intention of finding a job. She expects the taxpayer to fund her life on benefits – Conservative MP Philip Davies, 2014.
I think a lot of people have seen that I'm exactly like them. I'm just an ordinary, everyday person – Deirdre Kelly, The Guardian2014


Meeting 'White Dee'

1.1The first episode of Benefits Street (Channel Four, Love Productions, 2014) begins with a 36-second segment titled 'Meet White Dee' that establishes Deirdre Kelly (named in the programme as 'White Dee' from the outset) as the central protagonist of the drama to follow. 'At the heart of James Turner', explains the voice-over (spoken by former Coronation Street actor Tony Hirst), 'is the single mum, "White Dee"'. Throughout this sequence, we see White Dee - a large, middle-aged woman, dressed in a black vest top that reveals tattoos on her back and chest – dancing in the paved front yard outside a house with her teenage daughter. A high-tempo dance track ('Hello' by the Polish pop singer Candy Girl), is belting out of a car that has pulled up by the side of the road. White Dee's daughter moves to the pavement and dances in a style derived from Jamaican dance-hall which involves sexually exaggerated hip movements and a low, squatting stance.[1] The voice-over continues, 'she is bringing up two kids on benefits [pause] but can also find time to look out for the neighbours'. Then we hear White Dee's voice: 'the street feels like a family, because that's how we treat it, like a family. I am the Mam of the street'. As she speaks this line, the film cuts to a shot of a young family - a man, woman and two very young children - who are incongruously sitting together on a dilapidated sofa on a pavement outside a house, with rubbish bags piled and waste around them. The segment draws to a close with a close-up of White Dee talking on the phone, cigarette in mouth, sat on a sofa strewn with the detritus of everyday family life: papers; a girl's hair-slide; a can of pop; a newspaper; a child's school tie. A final extreme close-up shows a dirty ash-tray filled with cigarette butts.

1.2Despite the many 'judgement shots' (Skeggs et al. 2008) in this opening segment, which are arguably designed to invoke disgust reactions (the ash-tray, the young family sat on the rubbish strewn street, and the shameless 'sexualised' dancing), White Dee is represented from the outset in conflicting and contradictory ways. She is certainly not a victim, nor is she straightforwardly represented as an abject 'benefits scrounging' single mother. Rather, she is an extrovert matriarchal figure, who is depicted as happy, witty, compassionate and perhaps most interestingly, as 'free' from the complaints and constraints of 'time-poor' middle-class working mothers. Indeed, White Dee is depicted as unbounded from the strictures of idealised forms of neoliberal femininity, and specifically the pressures of 'having it all'.

1.3This rapid response article offers an analysis of the relationship between media portrayals of people living with poverty and political agendas with respect to welfare and social security. Specifically, we examine the making and remaking of White Dee in the public sphere - as abject, heroic and caring - to think afresh about the gender politics of economic austerity measures unleashed by neoliberalism. Rather than seek to resolve the disparate meanings configured through White Dee, or uncover some 'authentic' subject amidst them, our intention is to ask: why has White Dee emerged as a paradoxical figure of revulsion, fascination, nostalgia and hope in the context of the current dramatic reconfiguration of the welfare state?

1.4In the rest of this article we briefly introduce Benefits Street as a genre of programming distinct to austerity, before fleshing out the complex and contradictory meanings and affects attached to White Dee. We argue that these public struggles over White Dee open up spaces for urgent feminist sociological enquiries into the gender politics of austerity.


Austerity porn?

2.1Channel Four and Love Productions describe Benefits Street as a 'documentary series' which 'reveals the reality of life on benefits, as the residents of one of Britain's most benefit-dependent streets invite cameras into their tight-knit community' (see Channel 4 2014). However, rather than having the political impetus of documentary realism, Benefits Street follows the conventions of reality television which emerged in the 1980s when US and European broadcasters developed low-cost alternatives to conventional programme formulas. As Imogen Tyler (2011) has previously argued, programmes such as Benefits Street draw on many of the formal techniques of socially committed television documentary; the use of hand-held cameras, 'fly-on the wall' camera angles, the employment of non-actors and an improvised, unscripted, low-budget 'authenticity', in order to justify exploitation (of unpaid participants) and voyeurism through an implied association with 'documentary realism'. As she argues, 'these kinds of reality TV programmes have none of the aspirations of longer standing socially critical and politicized traditions of British documentary film and television' (Tyler 2013: 145; and Biressi and Nunn 2005). Benefits Street is not motivated by a desire 'to change social policy, uncover invisible lives and challenge an inequitable social system' (Biressi and Nunn 2005:10). As White Dee herself states, when reflecting on her participation in the show, 'it's like Big Brother, except no one is evicted. Or paid' (Kelly 2014).[2]

2.2A central feature of reality TV is it focus on 'class others' which has continued and intensified under current austerity regimes in pernicious ways. As a growing body of (largely feminist) class analysis has illuminated, these forms of programming operate as mechanisms of 'class making' within the cultural realm. They are characterised by the shaming of classed others through inviting audiences to read class stigma onto participants though evaluations of their conduct, bodies and dress as lacking and in need of transformation (see Allen and Mendick 2012Biressi and Nunn 2005Jensen 2013aSkeggs and Wood 2012Tyler 2011Tyler and Gill 2013Woods 2014).

2.3In many ways Benefits Street is archetypal of what Tracey Jensen calls 'poverty porn' (2013b), a subgenre of British reality television programmes that emerged in the summer of 2013[3]. Focusing on We All Pay Your Benefits (BBC 2013), Jensen argues that, instrumental to the introduction of financial austerity measures ostensibly deigned to reduce welfare spending, these kinds of reality programmes individualise poverty, blaming and shaming the poor for their circumstances (Jensen 2013b).

2.4Yet, there is also something about Benefits Street's sensibilities, framing devices and emotional power – manifesting in its central protagonist White Dee – that troubles and exceeds such a critical reading. Benefits Street is not just about displays of 'poverty' that repulse and intrigue viewers. It also invites voyeuristic opportunities to see people 'making do' and 'being thrifty' (Jensen 2013b; 2013c). It activates the kind of nostalgic longing for 'tight-knit neighbourhood communities' central to fictionalised depictions of working class lives in other long running British television dramas and soaps such as EastEnders (BBC 1985-current), Coronation Street, (ITV 1960-current) and popular period dramas such as Call the Midwife (BBC 2012-current). While Benefits Street is harsher in its moral judgements than these fictional programmes, the relationships between the residents nevertheless generates similar desires for a 'time past', characterised by working class solidarity, care and more communal forms of living.

2.5As we will argue, public responses to Benefits Street, and specifically White Dee, also emphasise the ways in which media representations generate divergent, resistant and multifarious meanings and affects. Attending to this complexity is an important intervention into debates about the media, welfare and inequality. It allows us to think outside of common-sense Left/Right political frameworks dominating debates about austerity and foreclosing attention to the gendered effects of a shrinking welfare state.


Abject White Dee

2.6In the wake Benefits Street, the figure of White Dee was struggled over more than any other of the show's participants. In public and political commentary, she was positioned in starkly oppositional ways and drawn upon as a key figure upon which competing agendas about welfare, austerity and the state were mobilised.

2.7One of the dominant meanings given to White Dee, both within Benefits Street and in audience responses to it, is as abject Other of the 'good', 'hard working' future-orientated, individualistic and entrepreneurial neoliberal citizen (Allen and Taylor 2012De Benedictis 2013Jensen and Tyler 2012). Through this framing, she is positioned as feckless, lazy and undeserving; the product of a bloated welfare system. White Dee has been mobilised by right-wing journalists and politicians as evidence of 'Broken Britain':

White Dee is the woman who many think sums up everything that is wrong with this country today. With her two children by two different but absent fathers, her fags and her telly, her long-term unemployment (she last worked in 2007) and indolent ways, some see her as the ultimate poster girl for Benefits Britain. (Moir 2014)

Here White Dee represents the figure of 'the skiver' par-excellence. Her reproductive capacity and caring labour is framed as idleness and a drain on national resources.

2.8In January 2014, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, invoked Benefits Street as 'evidence' to justify punitive austerity driven benefits cuts and workfare reforms. Benefits Street, he argued, revealed 'the hidden reality' of the lives of people 'trapped' on state-benefits (Duncan Smith 2014). 'Dole Queen White Dee', as the right-wing press named her, is defined through her inadequacies and failings in relation to her abject maternity (the mother of fatherless children), 'work' and time. White Dee is 'out of step' both in terms of her non-participation in paid work within the labour market, and subsequent 'dependency' on the state, and in her deficit relationship to time and space; stagnant, immobile and 'bone idle', unwilling and unable to move socially or spatially. We return to White Dee's imagined relationship to time in the penultimate section of this article.


Heroic White Dee

3.1The dominant counter-framing to this abject figuration was 'White Dee as hero': a community worker and campaigner for working class communities. White Dee was figured in these heroic depictions as both a victim (of mental health problems, and of the underhand and exploitative tactics of TV producers) and as an agent of authenticity and 'common-sense'. After appearing on the Channel 5 'debate show', The Big Benefits Row, White Dee was praised by political and media commentators as articulate, charismatic and a potential future politician. Feminist journalist Decca Aitkenhead writing in The Guardian describes her in the following terms:

White Dee is enormously likable. Unaffected yet knowing, she is very direct and can be extremely funny, with a natural gift for comic timing. She is also one of the most tolerant, least judgmental people I've ever met, and remarkably pragmatic about the hand she has been dealt. (Aitkenhead 2014)

At the same time, the right-wing publication, Spectator, co-opted White Dee as a campaigner for benefits cuts for the unemployed and more 'in-work' benefits for the low-paid, and heralded her a future right-leaning independent MP (see Kelly 2014).

3.2Both the abject and heroic framings of White Dee pivot on common-sense notions of work, time and value. In doing so, both elide considerations of what is at stake – materially, symbolically and psychologically - in the current reformation of the state, and the disproportionate effect of the cuts on mothers and children (The Fawcett Society 2012The Women's Budget Group 2012).

3.3As Skeggs argues: '"reality" television points to solutions, ways to resolve this inadequate personhood through future person-production – a projected investment in self-transformation – in which participants resolve to work on themselves' (Skeggs 2010: 80). White Dee must become a campaigning MP, a celebrity, come off benefits and enter paid work in order to become intelligible and valuable. Seeking to disrupt the claiming of White Dee as either abject or heroic, we now turn to a third reading of White Dee as a figure of nostalgia and desire. In doing, we attempt to think with White Dee as a figure and as forms of practice which speak to alternative values concerned with relations of care.


Caring White Dee

4.1As indicated at the start of this article, throughout the show White Dee is framed (albeit precariously) as the resilient and caring 'mother' of James Turner Street. This is made evident throughout the series as her family and local residents turn to her for guidance. White Dee's relationship with neighbour, Fungi - who seeks advice from her subsequent to a cancer scare and who she accompanies to the hospital - exemplifies this role. Likewise, media commentary repeatedly emphasise the community spirit that she embodies.

4.2It is this figuration of White Dee as caring matriarch, and the feelings this generates, which we argue provide a way into thinking differently about austerity. Specifically, we are interested in White Dee's framing as a nostalgic figure. Heroism on the Left is often imagined in forms of a nostalgic desire to return to working class masculinities. As Stephanie Lawler writes (Lawler under review), dominant motifs in Left representations of its revolutionary potential and solidarity are intrinsically masculine: the 'angry young man' and the 'heroic worker'. Such romanticized figures exclude and elide women and their labour (see also Steedman 1986Skeggs 1997).

4.3Public modes of collectivist class solidarity and consciousness have not only historically been 'less available or desirable to working-class women' (Hey 2003: 332). Working-class women – in their feminised labour of reproduction and care and location within the space of the domestic – have troubled the Left's emblematic motifs of 'Working Class Changes of the World' (Lawler under review: 18), past and present. White Dee represents an alternative nostalgic figure; one produced of a different set of desires - for slower and caring forms of community relations and inter-reliance – which brings into view the gendered politics of austerity.

4.4Neoliberalism shapes a particular relationship to time: there is never enough time; we must always maximize time; we must not stand still (Davies and Bansel 2005). White Dee is mediated within Benefits Street as a figure from another time. While this engenders forms of symbolic and material violence such as demands that she get a job and accusations that she is a lazy benefits cheat - this 'out of sync-ness' provokes something that exceeds this. Rather, White Dee's 'different' relationship to 'public time', and specifically her insistence on 'maternal time' (see Baraitser 2012: 236) becomes something that 'we', the middle-class viewer framed by the programme, envy. As White Dee states on invitations to capitalise on her celebrity through participation in reality TV programmes:

I could do those shows. But I'm not going to sacrifice my kids. I've never been without my kids. I'm a parent first". If it weren't for her responsibilities as a mother, would the reality circuit appeal to her? "Course it would!" she laughs. "People offering to throw money at me for this, that and the other? But it's not all about the money. I'm not the type of person who would give up being a proper mum just for money. (Kelly, in Aitkenhead 2014)

4.5The nostalgic longing figured through White Dee provides an insight into the kinds of fantasies and 'psychic damage' current neoliberal regimes engender (Layton et al 2014). In other words, if the competitive neoliberal market economy demands particular kinds of entrepreneurial, future-oriented, self-sufficient and individualistic selves, then White Dee figures a desire for modes of caring and common forms of social and economic relations which are an anathema to the logic of financial capitalism. In this respect, White Dee is a resistant figure and struggles over her within the public sphere are revealing of (middle-class) fantasies and desire for solace and escape from the surveillance of the cruel and penal neoliberal state, and the individualising and competitive qualities of everyday life.


The Gender Politics of Austerity

We can see caring as a crisis of value – the value of women's work. [...] Caring offers us a different way of being in the world, relating to others as if they matter, with attentiveness and compassion (Skeggs 2013)

5.1In the present moment, it is women like White Dee who are filling the gap left by the British government's decimation of state-supported services such as childcare and care for the elderly (Jensen and Tyler 2012Levitas 2012). They are carrying out the unpaid domestic and caring work within communities that goes unrecognised within policy rhetoric about 'worklessness' which saturates the political register of austerity. In the context of a war of austerity waged against women and children, we urgently need to think – again – about questions of care, labour and social reproduction.

5.2Important challenges to the gendered impacts of austerity are manifesting in organised, collective spaces such as Women's Budget Group and The Fawcett Society. Indeed, a recent statement by an anonymous collective, publishing under the name 'The Feminist Fightback Collective', reanimates long-standing feminist debates about the central role of social reproduction in sustaining the fabric of society. The collective states:

Exploring the focus, distribution and likely effects of this austerity programme through the lens of social reproduction allows us to better understand not only the uneven impacts it will have on different sectors of society, but also the ways in which it supports the production and accumulation of wealth, and its concentration into the hands of the few. And it may also point to sites of resistance and transformation (2011: 74)

5.3Thinking through 'austerity' with White Dee, as a figure that is representative of unvalued forms of social reproduction, is instructive as a way of considering resistance to the punishing demands of the neoliberal post-welfare society. As Kathi Weeks similarly argues, if what is considered to hold value was broadened and shifted so that social reproduction (in its myriad of forms), rather than production (defined primarily as paid work) underpinned the driving mechanism of sociality, then this would signal a shift away from the logic of capital to 'demanding not income for the production that is necessary to sustain social worlds, but income to sustain the social worlds necessary for, among other things, production' (Weeks 2010: 230).

5.4Perhaps surprisingly, struggles over figures such as White Dee in the public sphere, open up spaces for discussion of the gendered impacts of austerity, and the ways in which 'cutbacks in social provision are privatising work that is crucial to the sustenance of life' (The Feminist Fightback Collective 2011: 73). In this short article, we have argued that counter-readings that resist the dominant figuration of White Dee as an abject and/or heroic working class figure, allow us to ask bigger questions about what counts as labour? What counts as work? Who and what has value and is value? under the present social and political conditions. Popular culture is in this regard one site through which we should attend to the gender politics of austerity.'



How Foucault Matters Today

As noted above, Foucault has served as theoretical inspiration across a multitude of disciplines, so much so that the term “Foucauldian” is often applied to analyses that utilize his theoretical approach. Outside of academia, Foucault’s work is of interest to anyone looking to better understand and appreciate the subtle ways that power works in social life, particularly with regard to how seemingly mundane practices and ideas structure our personal experiences and senses of self. After reading Foucault, it’s hard to think about your society or yourself in quite the same way.

Despite these early obstacles, Foucault eventually became one of France’s most notable intellectuals. His thesis on the history of the concept of “madness” (eventually accepted in France in 1961) was immediately well received, and Foucault continued to write influential books on some of the West’s most powerful social institutions, such as medicine, prisons, and religion, as well as groundbreaking works on more abstract theoretical issues of power, knowledge, sexuality, and selfhood. While the objects of Foucault’s studies seem to range widely, they all tend to focus on how knowledge of human beings is inextricably connected to power over them. For Foucault, the many modern concepts and practices that attempt to uncover “the truth” about human beings (either psychologically, sexually, or spiritually) actually create the very types of people they purport to discover.

Foucault was also well known in France for his political activism. Foucault took a number of leftist (and sometimes unpopular) political stands, like supporting prisoners’ rights in France and protesting the Vietnam and Algerian wars.

Foucault died in 1984 from an AIDS-related illness. Today he remains one of the most influential and widely read social theorists in recent history. Foucault’s work has been groundbreaking not only for sociology, but also for anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, gender studies, gay and lesbian studies, philosophy, and literary criticism.

Key Concepts: 


Foucault was interested in the phenomenon of discourse throughout his career, primarily in how discourses define the reality of the social world and the people, ideas, and things that inhabit it. For Foucault, a discourse is an institutionalized way of speaking or writing about reality that defines what can be intelligibly thought and said about the world and what cannot. For example, in The History of Sexuality, Foucault argued that a new discourse of "sexuality" had fundamentally changed the way we think about desire, pleasure, and our innermost selves. In Foucault’s argument, discourses about sexuality did not discover some pre-existing, core truth about human identity, but rather created it through particular practices of power/knowledge (see next entry).


For Foucault, power and knowledge are not seen as independent entities but are inextricably related—knowledge is always an exercise of power and power always a function of knowledge. Perhaps his most famous example of a practice of power/knowledge is that of the confession, as outlined in History of Sexuality. Once solely a practice of the Christian Church, Foucault argues that it became diffused into secular culture (and especially psychology) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Through the confession (a form of power) people were incited to “tell the truth” (produce knowledge) about their sexual desires, emotions, and dispositions. Through these confessions, the idea of a sexual identity at the core of the self came into existence (again, a form of knowledge), an identity that had to be monitored, cultivated, and often controlled (again, back to power). It is important to note that Foucault understood power/knowledge as productive as well as constraining. Power/knowledge not only limits what we can do, but also opens up new ways of acting and thinking about ourselves.




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