Thursday August 28th, 2014, 11:15 pm (EDT)

Al Sandine

Cultural Impersonations and Appropriations: A Fashion Report

Growing up on a Midwestern farm while Marx worked on the final draft of Capital, Vol. I, was a boy who, as a man, would have a very different take on the relationship of workers to the products of their labor. Thorstein Veblen would become famous for what he wrote about the fetishized commodities of consumers.…For Veblen, all the nonessentials that we purchase as consumers reflect standards of respectability established by the upper class. The “motive that lies at the root of ownership is emulation,” he wrote, not just of others but of wealthy and powerful others. Under capitalism, one’s property “becomes the conventional basis of esteem,” by which Veblen meant both the high regard of others and self-esteem.…Over the past few decades, however, standards for personal appearance have been transformed in ways that seem to turn Veblen’s conspicuous consumption idea inside out… | more |

The Taming of the American Crowd

The Taming of the American Crowd

From Stamp Riots to Shopping Sprees

The history of the United States has been largely shaped, for better or for worse, by the actions of large groups of people. Rioters on a village green, shoppers lurching about a labyrinthine mall, slaves packed into the dark hold of a ship, strikers assembling outside the factory gates, all have their place in the rich and sometimes tragic history of the American crowd. This unique study traces that history from the days of anti-colonial revolt to today’s passive, ‘colonized crowds’ that fill our sports arenas, commercial centers, and workplaces. In clear and lively prose, Al Sandine argues for the progressive role crowds have played in securing greater democracy, civil rights, and free speech. But he also investigates crowds in their more dangerous forms, such as lynch mobs and anti-immigrant riots.… | more |