Analyzing the Discourse of Liberation Through Consumption

ABSTRACT - A focus on consumption as an expression of individual freedom is not only embraced in a number of recent articles in the field of Consumer Behavior, but indeed is one of the most prevalent themes in advertising today. Instead of celebrating fragmentation and insisting on a rupture from modern metanarratives, this article seeks to instead make sense of consumer emancipation as part of a broader social discourse reflecting free-market ideologues. By briefly analyzing three recent advertisements, my intent is to develop a constructive basis to assist others in understanding how advertising promotes a destructive consumer ethos.



Citation:

David Toumajian (2003) ,"Analyzing the Discourse of Liberation Through Consumption", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, eds. Darach Turley and Stephen Brown, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 242-248.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, 2003      Pages 242-248

ANALYZING THE DISCOURSE OF LIBERATION THROUGH CONSUMPTION

David Toumajian, University of Utah, USA

ABSTRACT -

A focus on consumption as an expression of individual freedom is not only embraced in a number of recent articles in the field of Consumer Behavior, but indeed is one of the most prevalent themes in advertising today. Instead of celebrating fragmentation and insisting on a rupture from modern metanarratives, this article seeks to instead make sense of consumer emancipation as part of a broader social discourse reflecting free-market ideologues. By briefly analyzing three recent advertisements, my intent is to develop a constructive basis to assist others in understanding how advertising promotes a destructive consumer ethos.

INTRODUCTION

Under the rule of a repressive whole, liberty can be made into a powerful instrument of domination. The range of choice open to the individual is not the decisive factor in determining the degree of human freedom, but what can be chosen and what is chosen by the individual... Free choice among a wide variety of goods and services does not signify freedom if these goods and services sustain social controls over a life of toil and fear- that is, if they sustain alienation. (Marcuse 1964, p 7-8)

If consumption is to be viewed as a political act containing the possibility for some sort of self-emancipation, such a reconceptualization of modern notions of freedom and democracy needs to be addressed and seriously considered. A prevailing trend in 'postmodern’ approaches to consumer society and individual free-will is to place a great amount of emphasis on finding examples in which consumption can be celebrated for a displaying a certain degree of self-expression and rejection of hegemony as such. (e.g., Firat and Venkatesh 1995, Kozinets 2002, Geisler 2002, Schouten and McAlexander 1995, Thompson and Haytko 1997) It is noteworthy to recognize that there are numerous examples of critique embedded in such research, with authors occasionally alluding to the 'modern’ market as predominantly repressive in its naturalization of self-interest and hindrance to the development of communities and social relations outside of market relations. Such research however too-readily abandons a critique of current social problems and possibilities for the development of more effective and socially constructive political acts regarding consumption. Examples include movements such as Culture Jamming (Lasn 1999), WTO/ IMF protests, 'Buy Nothing Day’ and 'TV-Turnoff Week’ (see www.adbusters.org), and a general critical awareness facilitating an introspective approach towards understanding the ways consumption affects our everyday lives. But taking a critical theoretic perspective leads us to focus on an informed and empowered public rather than on an idealized postmodern portrait of freedom through a sovereign consumer. According to Kozinets, "the emphasis on playful self-expression over market efficiency means favoring individual decision making rather than following the dictates of hierarchical resource-based power structures- although of course these power structures still exist to some extent at all events" (2001, p.13). Caught in a theoretical approach that insists on fragmentation as liberation, such research is hard-pressed to question its own epistemological justification for critique. As some researchers (e.g. Giesler 2002, Haraway 1988) propose that we are now in an age of 'posthumanity’ in which modern institutions prove futile, we might question whether this means a cold and sterile stripping away of humanity and freedom, or a celebration of its exact opposite. At a more pragmatic level, we must question what our research does and how it relates to a broader social discourse in which the market is ideologically seen as a place in which depoliticized freedom and self-expression flourish.

VISUAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS AS METHOD

Choosing a particular methodology makes a strong statement regarding what we as researchers wish to know and problematize. Hegemony and power can be theorized at many levels including an examination of their implications on social discourse as well as how individuals incorporate and resist such power in their individual lifeworlds. While hermeneutical approaches are effective in generating discussions of power as mediated by individuals, it would be premature to abandon investigations of social structure and the various ideologies through which such structure come to be dominant. Grant McCracken (1988) is but one voice cautioning the "alienable, movable, manipulable quality of meaning" (p.89) and reminding us that, while we may actively create meaning out of objects in our social worlds, those self-same social worlds in which such objects are found remain bound to power relations. [The author would like to extend his deep appreciation to both Stephen Brown and one anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments inspiring a more considerate discussion of discourse, power, and the actively mediated understanding of individuals.]

Rose (2001) defines discourse as "groups of statements which structure the way a thing is thought, and the way we act on the basis of that thinking. In other words, discourse is a particular knowledge about the world which shapes how the world is understood and how things are done in it". (p.136) Visual communications, thus, can help clarify the current dynamics that shape an ever-metamorphosing social discourse. One such prevalent discourse is what Thomas Frank (1999) calls 'market populism, or the free-market ideology so prevalent in the 1990s:

...in addition to being mediums of exchange, markets were mediums of consent. Markets expressed the popular will more accurately and more meaningfully than did mere elections. Markets conferred democratic legitimacy; markets were a friend of the little guy; markets brought down the pompous and the snooty; markets gave us what we wanted; markets looked out for our interests’ (p.xiv)

The advent of discourse analysis as a theoretical framework is attributed to Foucault’s research approach and his emphasis on the historical contingency of power relations, focusing on how discourse becomes internalized while still maintaining its ideological nature. What Foucault calls 'body politic’ is described as, "a set of material elements and techniques that serve as weapons, relays, communication routes and supports for power and knowledge relations that invest human bodies and subjugate them by turning them into objects of knowledge" (1977, p.28). Foucault’s historical analyses provide a plethora of data and are effective in understanding discourse as a fluid concept. Individuals internalize and rework ideology, becoming their own oppressors. For example, in discussing the transformation of the form of punishment from one of explicit torture of the body to more subtle and powerful domination of individuals over themselves, he notes that "discipline 'makes’ individuals; it is the specific technique of a power that regards individuals both as objects and instruments of its exercise... it is a modest, suspicious power, which functions as a calculated but permanent economy" (p.170).

While Foucault is often celebrated as one of the first postmodern theorists, he is also firmly entrenched in modern notions of subject/ object and the interplay of institutionalized power and its internalization by the individual.

Power relations still can be widely understood by looking at unequal material distributions, or in other words class interests. In fact, the two processes- the accumulation of men and the accumulation of capital- cannot be separated; it would not have been possible to solve the problem of the accumulation of men without the growing of an apparatus of production capable of both sustaining them and using them...The growth of a capitalist economy gave rise to the specific modality of disciplinary power. (Foucault, 1977p.221)

In Foucault’s work we do not see an abandonment of capitalist critique and, as the above quotation demonstrates, the economy was seen as a dominant factor in shaping modern discourse. Far from celebrating plurality and hailing the abandonment of metanarratives, his critique and emphasis on relevant causal origins for contemporary social and political problems places Foucault much more in line with the modernist tradition. As Best and Kellner (1991) note, Foucault increasingly tended to "align his work with aspects of the Enlightenment tradition and specified both continuities and discontinuities between modernity and the era that followed it". (p.31).

The application of Foucault’s discursive approach is an effective framework for understanding consumer ideology today. There are signs all around us whose thematic cohesion demonstrates an emphasis on perpetuating a belief in the market as a place to emancipate oneself from social constraints and political discontent. One approach towards developing a conceptual understanding of such a theme is in advertising. Mass media is a rich source of visual material that can be employed to exemplify how consumption as ideology takes shape in its current discursive application.

There are a number of approaches to media analysis, including semiotics, content analysis and discourse analysis. While semiotics has potential for analyzing symbolic consumption (Mick, 1986), such an approach has been criticized for the unintended consequence that "historic and dynamic construction of discourses within a force-field of social practices is obscured and ignored in order to focus on the negotiations of meaning carried out within the ambit of the text and the moment of reading. The hallowed terrain of bourgeois criticism remains, while the groundwork of materialist theory is not begun" (Slater, p. 302). Content analysis as a research method, on the other hand, often results in positivistic portrayals of quantitatively proven truths. By solely focusing on the image, such an approach tends to also ignore that "there are the two other sites at which an image’s meanings are made: the site of its production, and the site of its audience". (Rose 2001, p.67)

The advantage of examining social phenomenon through the lens of discourse analysis is an ability to capture both what Stuart Hall (1980) calls the "preferred meanings" of certain visual texts and their relation to ideological interests, along with ways in which such preferred meanings are either reproduced or contradicted in the actions and understandings of individuals. This is similar to Murray’s (2002) distinction between a research localizing examples of 'sign experimentation’ that focuses on "consumption as an 'expressive moment’" and a case of 'sign domination’, placing a greater focus on those social structures seen as "direct[ing] the meaning of things". (2002, p.2) What has generally been lacking is an openly non-apologetic treatment of how symbolic consumption along with its potentially political aspects is a dangerous movement towards a depoliticized public realm along with a focus on the disastrous consequences this can have.

My intent is to provide examples of how 'consumer freedom’ in the marketplace is a reproduction of a dominant ideological portrayal linking consumption and liberty in an apolitical symbiosis. As Holt suggests, dominant discourses can be tricky:

Consumers are revolutionary only insofar as they assist entrepreneurial firms to tear down the old branding paradigm and create opportunities for companies that understand emerging new principles. Revolutionary consumers helped to create the market for Volkswagen and Nike and accelerated the demise of Sears and Oldsmobile. They never threatened the market itself. What has been termed "consumer resistance" is actually a form of market-sanctioned cultural experimentation through which the market rejuvenates itself. (Holt, 2002, p.89).

Such hollow rebellion points toward a conflict between understanding consumption as individual emancipation versus understanding consumption as the inevitable reproduction of a dominant market logic in which humanity is redefined. While some will certainly respond that it is more complicated than such a black and white portrayal of a binary oppositional pair and that both occur concurrently, such an ambivalent theoretical limbo is disempowering as an analytical tool and is too-easily employed as an escape from deriving concrete normative implications for a disturbing trend to celebrate a freedom which is illusory.

AD 1: BRAND YOURSELF A RADICAL

When Nike sells itself as the "cool" alternative among shoes, when Macintosh encouraged us that it is selling a product perfectly in-line with those of us who "think different" and when a nude picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono (taken as part of a larger protest against the Vietnam War) is used in an Absolut Vodka advertisement to signal a rebellious spirit, we encounter a phenomenon of greater import than simply the disintegration o a concrete relation between the signifier and signified. As symbols of radicalism, freedom, protest and the search for alternative social relations outside of the market become repeatedly co-opted, a particular understanding of liberty and dissent in a 'democratic’ society imposes itself on youth culture. As the following advertisement demonstrates, a radical is defined by what he or she buys:

Thomas Frank is an important critical social theorist when discussing how rebellion is encouraged in its commodity form. In Conquest of Cool (1997), Frank notes the way 60s-style liberation is increasingly appropriated in corporate America’s struggle to present itself as the protectors of a new kind of welfare state, one in which we are free to consume and if we don’t like it... we buy Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, and Macintosh. In his more recent book, One Market Under God (2000), Frank provides a contemporary analysis of how Wall Street, Dot-Com fanatics and even radical academics contributed to the hype of 'market populism’, or the belief that "in addition to being mediums of exchange, markets were mediums of consent". (p.xiv)

Only when people act within the marketplace, such thinkers told us, do they act rationally, choose rightly, and make their wishes known transparently. Only then could business give us what we wanted, cater to our freely expressed choices. Markets are where we are most fully human; markets are where we show we have a soul. To protest against markets is to surrender one’s very personhood, to put oneself outside the family of mankind. (Frank, 2000 p.xiii)

FIGURE 1

Thus one can see reflected in this advertisement (Figure 1)for the newest video graphics card a number of such radical symbols, anchored by the tags: "Brand yourself a radical..." and "This changes everything". The young woman in the picture, we are informed, demonstrates such dissent and rebellion through her tattoo... which happens to be the corporate logo. It is not my intent to systematically treat each aspect of this advertisement and how each of the parts relate to the whole. Instead I think this serves as a powerful example of just how far advertising goes in appropriating difference and rebellion as yet another brand personality.

AD 2: NEOLIBERALISM AND EMANCIPATION

Post- September 11th media were saturated with the recurrent motifs of freedom and liberty and how a concerned and involved public could express their support. From ads offering 0%-financing on car loans to stimulate the economy, to heads-of-state encouraging us to help the country by going out and shopping (or flying to Disneyland), it became evident that by spending money we could feel secure in having done our part to ensure the recovery and supposed superiority of our nation-state. If it is true, as political theorist David Held (1996) states, that "democracy has become the fundamental standard of political legitimacy in the current era" (p.xi), it is important to see exactly how democratic discourse has used the market as a symbol of those freedoms guaranteed by the state.

Neoliberal political theory, most widely acclaimed and criticized in an era of "Reagonomics", holds that a truly free market would negate the need for a welfare state and that economic expansion as encouraged and facilitated through liberal government policies ensures that class distinctions are erased. "Trickle-down economics" was proposed as the superior alternative to state interventionism in matters both economic and social. As Held discerned:

The New Right (or neo-liberalism or neoconservatism, as it is sometimes called) has, in general, been committed to the view that political life, like economic lie, is (or ought to be) a matter of individual freedom and initiative. Accordingly, a laissez-faire or free-market society is the key objective, along with a 'minimal state’. (Held, 1996, p. 253)

In the following advertisement by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, such a neoliberal agenda can be identified and explored (Figure 2).

What does the American flag symbolize, if not a rhetorically encouraged notion of freedom and liberty? By simply adding two curved lines to the top of the flag, this campaign makes explicit exactly what such neoliberal political discourse implicitly assumes: American freedom is the freedom to consume. By holding our chins up high to those who threaten such liberty, we can proudly say that the terrorist attacks did NOT close down America because, after all, America remained "Open For Business". Consider the following two quotations:

To enjoy liberty means not only to enjoy equality before the law, important though this unquestionably is, but also to have the capacities (the material and cultural resources) to be able to pursue different courses of action. (Held, 1996, p.263)

The growth of productive forces is not the same as the intention of the "good life". It can at best serve it. (Habermas, 1968, p.119)

FIGURE 2

Is this no more than the eclipsed voice of Reason, inapplicable in a postmodern world in which "emancipation, if at all possible, must be conceived of as temporary and local" and "conjuring up an alternative social realm that convincingly appears distanced from, outside of, or subversive to dominant market logics is enough to unleash consumers’ liberatory potential"? (Kozinets, 2002, p.17) If the market becomes the final and omnipresent emancipatory space for consumers to liberate themselves, then we can truly postulate that ours is a 'posthuman’ world.

PHOTO 3: LIBERTY DEFINED AND DEFENDED

This final example (Figure 3) serves as a sober reminder of how legitimacy translates into consent, that there are concrete repercussions to the expansion of a global marketplace with the free market as its model. The broad postmodern brush that paints ours as an age in which modern institutions have become futile, meta-narratives have become repressive, and Reason has become a myth of the Enlightenment, I can’t help but wonder if missiles and tanks have been overlooked. That is to say, modern institutions like the government, the military, schools, and courts, among countless others, still exist and still work to negotiate power locally, nationally and globally. What Althusser (1970) calls "Ideological State Apparatuses", such public organizations still are in theory accountable to an increasingly depoliticized public realm.

To work properly, capitalism requires a symbiotic relationship between market perrogatives and the cultural frameworks that orient how people understand and interact with the market’s offerings. The cultural structuring of consumption maintains political support for the market system, expands markets, and increases industry profits. (Holt, 2002, p.71)

While consumer behavior research repeatedly emphasizes and in effect encourages the proliferation of a theoretical perspective that accepts the market as agency’s last stronghold, postmodern theory has little to contribute to an understanding of how current global political situations are to be understood if they are not accountable to an antiquated modernity. If ours is truly a postmodern world, then such institutions should not still be effective in creating changing or sustaining power relations... bombs should fail to explode. There are however concrete implications to our relationship to the market

GENERAL DISCUSSION

Because discourse is fluid and socially contingent does not mean it cannot be made sense of. As a particular ideology, consumer emancipation threatens to conflate an important distinction between political action and cultural practices. Culture is not an autonomous realm that can be theorized and examined outside of a broader treatment of its relationship to social and political discourses. For Frank (2000) this reconceptualization of culture in academia not only reflects but also contributes to this dominant discourse:

What seems far more likely is that, as the politically committed drop by the wayside, cultural studies will evolve to a point where matters economic are simply defined away, where any transgression is as meaningful as any other, and where the new crop of cult studs can take the logical next step from academy to consultancy work for the growing number of hip ad agencies and ethnographic-based market research firms, celebrating the subversive potential of Sprite or the Catera without reservation or troubling doubt. (Frank, 2000, p. 304)

My intent then is to problematize the relationship between a strain of research that is fundamentally critical and a prevalent market ideology providing legitimacy to a neoliberal political agenda.

FIGURE 3

In researching the problematic of 'consumption as freedom’, I suggest that the following three points be considered:

1) An over-emphasis on the sovereign consumer neglects both the material base of such sovereignty and its legitimizing nature. If consumption is equated with freedom, those who have more money have more freedom. The dilemma of modernizing nations struggling to attain material success under the burden of structurally determined inequities demands more attention (as do the underprivileged classes within our own country). But we have also too readily assumed that freedom and abundance must mean material wealth. More attention must be given to alternative notions of what abundance could or should mean. The United States is not the world and its conceptualization of abundance is not global. Even within this country there are substantial movements challenging the expansion of a capitalist system perceived as inhumane.

2) If we are to describe consumption as primarily political, this must be problematized by contrasting it with more effective political participation. Obviously such an argument necessitates some sort of justification for implicitly assuming that some political acts are more effective (or more political) than others, and yet the evidence is all around us. From ad campaigns convincing us that rebellion is a commodity, to government mandates for high level consumption as patriotism, one might argue that the omnipresence of consumer society has reached a climax in which the political has been superseded. However, by localizing such ad campaigns, by pointing out how governments can use consumption to legitimize their function, and by focusing on anti-consumer movements and protests, a more constructive ground is laid for understanding power and how it is protected. Such an understanding, moreover, is still important to foster if we believe in the importance of a critically informed and politically empowered society. There is a danger in over-emphasizing the import of consumption as political in a defragmented postmodern society. By way of contrast, consider for example the following call to arms for liberatory postmodernists:

Liberatory postmodernism is a call to practice unabashedly the conditions towards microemancipatory ends as opposed to grand emancipatory projects. However, postmodernism’s liberatory potential cannot yet be achieved. The reason for this delay is the growing influence of the market- which is a modern institution still operating according to the commercial principles and criteria of the "economic". (Firat and Venkatesh, 1995 p. 245)

There is neglect in such an approach of the ways in which postmodern microemancipatory consumer acts become couched in the modern market. Far from emancipatory, consumption often reflects Foucault’s recognition of ways in which ideological interests become internalized.

3) Structure and agency are both important in an attempt to understand how consumption both contributes legitimacy and creates meaning. By heralding agency as liberation, the more subtle argument of agency as ideology is neglected as are real material interests in current power relations. For Foucault, there is an important distinction to be made when confronting the politics of our actions: "It is not simply at the level of consciousness, of representations and in what one thinks one knows, but at the level of what makes possible that knowledge that is transformed into political investment" (Foucault 1977, p.185). Just as power produces knowledge, such knowledge must be analyzed as a reflection of power. . While certain theorists (e.g. Frankfurt School) are discarded for having adhered to a form of cultural determinism that over-simplifies agency-structure interplay, this is, in my opinion, a drastic disservice to an attempt to situate culture in a broader socio-political context. Consider for example Kozinets’ rhetorical justification for the import of his own work:

This research does not simply rehash the old harangue about the perils of the market and its deteriorating influence on ostensibly pure and natural communities... This more sophisticated argument indicates that sharing, caring consumer communities can counteract certain market influences...(Kozinets, 2002, p.14)

Theorists of social behavior invariably will struggle with the degree to which agency or structure is emphasized as the determining feature by which we can understanding the meaning of consumption; presenting a particular approach as 'more sophisticated’ effectively discredits a sociological approach towards understanding the structural determinants of a pervasive trend towards over consumption

CONCLUSION: STARTING TO ACT

While academic discussion and debate is extremely important in helping us to create more informed opinions and stances as pursuers of knowledge, I don’t think that we should shy away from using that knowledge to contribute to our local communities. I have recently been warned that this may easily be perceived as a form of "activist research" inappropriately involving some sort of political motive to encourage an involved citizenry; everything we do, however, is political- including the act of doing nothing and 'simply’ contributing to the efficiency of business activities. Postmodern theory has the potential to lend insight into a pervasive malaise and cynicism typical of current political and social life, but it discredits itself by emphasizing the destructiveness of 'regimes of truth’ abandoning 'metanarratives’. Cohesion is rejected, sense is denied and understanding is eclipsed by the strained celebration of individuality

There are many ways in which our research, by focusing on constructive alternatives to empower people to make sense of media, can have a positive influence in stimulating critical thinking and encouraging a more active public. In a recent special issue of the Journal of Communication (Winter, 1998) the topic of Media Literacy was debated and discussed in regard to its potential contributions in helping youth and adolescents make sense of the media. The editor defined media literacy as "understanding the sources and technologies of communication, the codes that are used, the messages that are produced, and the selection, interpretation, and impact of those messages" (Rubin 1998, p.3). Perhaps it is due to my having worked as a 3rd-grade teacher in an impoverished Mexican community for several years, but I do believe in the medium of education and I am convinced that it is helpful to make sense of how media functions to produce endless and insatiable desire to consume without thought of repercussions. I am also absolutely convinced that the field of consumer behavior has great potential to contribute to such an activity, provided we first openly acknowledge a problem rather than striving to stress the liberatory potential of a fragmented and uninformed citizenry.

The issue regarding how Media Literacy should be addressed and taught in schools reflects a much larger debate regarding literacy as technical mastery vs. literacy as understanding ideology and power. Lewis and Jhally (1998) differentiate between a text-based and context-based approach, with the latter focusing on how "the unraveling of media texts takes place in the context of their production and reception" and encouraging "an awareness of why those messages are there" (p. 111) . Because of its largely grass-roots basis, the large and multivocal population constituting the Media Literacy movement ranges from the religious right to the liberal left. The problem with such a broad constituency is that the issue of using media literacy as a window toward understanding the political economy of the media is often criticized as too political. Sut and Jhally (1998) worry that a focus on technical production of media (i.e. familiarity with video equipment and production conventions) neglects "an awareness of why those messages are there". (p.111).

While in recent consumer behavior research a considerable amount of attention has been given toward how children’s consumer awareness as socially embedded and developmentally contingent (Roedder-John 1999, Friestad and Boush 1994), such experiments and reviews do little to elucidate and problematize a broader and more critical view of childrens’ media as social discourse. In regard to the question of what can be done (assuming we agree that some sort of corrective action is desireable), such approaches as PREEMPT (Pre-Adult Education on Marketplace Persuasion Tactics; Friestad and Wright 2001) focus on developmental aspects of how children learn to cognitively cope with persuasive messages rather than how they can make sense of such persuasive attempts at the more macro level of how such messages cumulatively foster high level consumption within a broader social context. In calling for "education interventions on marketplace metacognition and social expertise [which] best service the developmental needs of young children, adolescents, young adults, and mature or elderly lay adults" (Friestad and Wright 2001, p. xxxx), issues of power and ideology are entirely superseded by a focus on a positivist solution based on determining psychological constructs used in developing individual defense mechanisms to specific ads.

In this paper I have attempted to make sense of the ideological claim that individuality and freedom from constraint can be expressed through the act of consumption. By focusing on these several advertisements, a broader social discourse was called for in which such a celebration of the market lends legitimacy to political and legal decisions that increasingly favor the free-market or neoliberal ideology prevalent in the United States today. But such an understanding of how such ideology functions is rejected as yet another metanarrative by postmodern researchers who instead opt to focus on the lighter side of consumerism. This Western bias neglects the disempowered here as well as structurally disadvantaged nations in the Third World, not to mention the global environmental harm resulting from consumption ad absurdum. Critical Media Literacy is one field of research that is trying to explore constructive solutions to such dilemma by addressing the problem head on. While this paper is primarily conceptual, it would be extremely beneficial to look at how adolescents are affected by such themes as freedom in advertising and consumption as well as the effectiveness of developing a critical perspective based on research in the fields of communications, consumer behavior and marketing. Such academic community involvement presupposes the recognition, first and foremost, of a problem to be reckoned with and that is what I have tried to highlight in this paper.

I conclude with an excerpt from Benjamin Barber’s An Aristocracy of Everyone:

The fundamental task of education in a democracy is the apprenticeship of liberty- learning to be free. While we root our fragile freedom in the myth that we are born free, we are in truth born dependent. For we are born fragile, born needy, born ignorant, born uninformed, born weak, born foolish, born unimaginative- born in chains... As a consequence, we must learn to be free. That is to say, we must be taught liberty. (Barber 1992, p.4)

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----------------------------------------

Authors

David Toumajian, University of Utah, USA



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6 | 2003



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