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Chapter 5 - ‘We Manufacture Fun’: Capital and the Production of Affect

from I - Origins

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2020

Alex Houen
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

This chapter examines the critique of the production of affect advanced by a range of thinkers in the Marxist tradition, above all, Theodor Adorno, but also including Herbert Marcuse, Raymond Williams, and E. P. Thompson. It focuses in particular on what Adorno describes as the ‘diversionary function’ of ostensibly positive affective states – especially what he calls ‘fun’, a multiply freighted word, as the chapter shows – and asks what it means to categorise such states as ‘false’. The degree to which affective states are open to misinterpretation by those undergoing them is, therefore, a central question in this chapter. Drawing on Keston Sutherland’s recent emphasis on the role of disgust in Marx’s satirical account of capitalist production, the chapter will in conclusion emphasise the affective charge of the Marxist critique of affect itself.

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Affect and Literature , pp. 100 - 115
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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