Exploring the Social Imagination

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Has your life been Branded?

If you want to see how your life is being lived in today's social reality, then see the movie "Branded". You will want to run screaming that the sky has already fallen and could someone please help you cut your way out of the blanket of darkness that has covered all our eyes. What does that mean? It means that we may not be living a 'real' or 'our' real life. We maybe and are likely living for someone else. This is exactly what the movie Branded tries to convey. Which is that we have been sold a life and bought into it hook line and sinker. We live our lives vicariously through brands. We have the great tendency to identify ourselves, our person, through brands. This is fact recognized by sociologists today and part of the popular culture which is branded the "Youth Culture". Ironic, isn't it that we even brand our social reality, our collective social consciousness needs to be labeled. Somehow I think that makes people feel better about their life as a brand and their desire to brand.  Essentially, branding as I talk about it is naming, and that the name gives us social position as status (Max Weber recognized that), authority as it provides a sense of security, identity, and comfort.
In the movie, people are manipulated and they buy into the same thing, there is no diversity, there is only the 'brand'. They are consumers of the brand and they are being consumed by it. Thorstein Veblen wrote about this phenomenon in his 1899 book, The Theory of the Leisure Class.
Sadly, at university today, hardly anyone knows his name let alone Max Weber, Vilfredo Pareto and or Talcott Parsons to name a few who understood that people were sheeple. Parsons for instance saw social reality as having a basic functional classification which underlined the whole scheme of things 'social'. He saw the discrimination of 4 primary categories: pattern maintenance, integration, goal-attainment, and adaptation, placed in that order in the series of control-relations.Pareto saw that wealth in society is not random... the elites recruit who they need from wherever they can be found; preferably from their own pool but not necessarily.Persons of superior ability, Pareto argued, actively seek to confirm and aggrandize their social position. Thus, social classes are formed. In an effort to rise into the elite of the upper strata, privileged members of the lower-class groups continually strive to use their abilities and thus improve their opportunities and prove themselves to the elites as able to jump on their bandwagon so to spake. As a result, the best-equipped persons from the lower class rise to challenge the position of the upper-class elite. There thus occurs a “circulation of elites.” The brand helps to motivate this activity and sustain it. The brand in this case was "elite". The best way to appease the lower classes that don't make it into the higher class is to give them a sense of comfort about the place and or position that they are in or where they are. Brands, labels help the elite to do this (give a sense of comfort to those who will never be elite and yet needed by the elite) and this is exactly what the movie "Branded" was attempting to point out.

1 comment :

  1. It seems since the 1800's this branding has been going on. I do not believe it is any coincidence that Marxism and Social Darwinism appeared at about the same time. In fact I believe they are all a part of the same scheme by the elites to keep the needed masses docile.