Words as Definitions of Experience (3) Language and Society
As natural as breathing Ideology functions to convince its audience that the ideas it offers up are timeless and ahistorical – that they have always been and always will be thus
As natural as breathing: Why? How does the material context of a culture come to be naturalised and valued to the extent that it can be used to differentiate between the human and non-human?
Ideology Discourses and narratives that circulate in a culture and determine what can and can’t be thought, and what can and can’t be done. In order to be effective they have to decontextualise their own culture and hide the contingent nature of thoughts and activities in a culture. They have a group basis – they construct and promote meanings which privilege one culture, or one section of a culture, over another.
Ideology and Communication How does ideology influence and determine communication practices and how people of their identity? The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life processes in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness The relations of production, and social being, determine consciousness
Ideology and Communication Ideology constructs the relation between workers and capitalists as something other than exploitative and historical Ideology draws attention away from the inequalities and oppressiveness of everyday life, and the politics of the material contexts that control people’s lives
Ideology and Communication Marxist notions of ideology are characterised by two points: The overdetermining role of the relations of production and the economic sphere as an explanation of the realities of life The use of stories, narratives and explanations to create a false consciousness which edits out those political and economic realities
Ideology and Language Ideology is produced at the same time that signs are produced as meaningful Without signs there is no ideology All cultural meanings are produced by signs – words, clothes, posters, films and photographs Since all meanings are produced in cultures there can be no ‘natural’ or pre-cultural meanings A culture is therefore a kind of battleground in which various groups try to impose their meanings are the expense of the meanings of other groups
When the battleground is war War is verbal as well as physical – demonising an enemy, reducing them to abstractions and, more broadly, justifying a particular way of life or worldview Human compassion Context specific Military training Theories of international relations The drive of ‘corporatisation’
Targets Bombs are aimed at military targets Official information is about targets Installations are targeted Civilian targets are avoided
Abstraction The representation of particular aspects of reality in terms that refer to universal categories in which the particulars can be subsumed Representations that accomplish the near disappearance of particular facts unless they fit the preferred theory Abstraction is not simply the result of the use of a particular term but is the effect of using the term in particular contexts
Abstraction ‘In the most extensive effort of the bombing campaign so far, US bombers struck a series of Taliban targets today.’ ‘The pentagon announced today that attacks on military targets have significantly eroded the anti-aircraft capacity of the Taliban regime.’ ‘In the second week of the campaign against terrorism, planes bombarded targets in the North of Afghanistan.’
Abstraction Military targets Civilian targets Our boys are more important Destruction of military targets doesn’t hurt civilians Killing civilians is made easier amidst a lot of talk about the need not to kill them Civilian deaths are a PR opportunity for the militiary to stress its care for the health and well-being of people around the world
Abstraction Discourse: The corporatisation of everyday life the state drives to expand its own power, to secure predictable and profitable investment for global capital and secure privileged relationships with other states The objectification/abstraction of killing serves these interests Discourse: the framing of foreign policy and state model of security The chess ‘game’ – the language ‘game’
‘Five thousand people didn’t die here; five thousand individuals died.’