The video The Century Of The Self Part 1 of 4 Happiness Machines was very thought-provoking. Having never formally studied psychology I always find myself fascinated, someday I would like to spend some serious time researching and reading. The is the first time I’ve heard of Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud's American nephew, and the video portrays his influences on not only advertising but also advertising and consumerism; this is a captivating story. The video is actually part of a series of videos, “about how those in power have used Freud's theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy” (Adam Curtis).
According to Funes, advertising is the “strategy of persuasion based on the stimulation and management of desire nearly always appears together with a normative discourse based, in the final instance, on the duty to consume as the means to experience belonging, or social integration”. Within the video, Bernays is portrayed as a pioneer of psychological manipulation with the goal being consumerism, which then became the central motor in American life.
Following along with this foundational background and theory, Funes takes us into a comparison of our virtual world versus the educational environment, and the paradoxical nature is obvious.
I really enjoyed considering the facets of advertising as a starting point for creating educational opportunities, as Funes describes, advertising is “the opportunity to create a constructive initiative and to raise critical awareness about such a construction, that is, a space for the practice of a style of pedagogy that is exploratory and that foments discussion. In this respect, knowledge about advertising may present an extraordinary opportunity”.
As we educators struggle with limited resources and outdated policies and procedures that unfortunately don’t align with the realities of our consumerism-based society, but we also face tremendous technological advancements and a new world of technology which I would argue could be our next central motor in American life. Are we at a tipping point in the educational system?
Week 3 Required Readings:
Virginia Funes. “Advertising and Consumerism: A Space for Pedagogical Practice” Mirror Images. Pp. 159-177.
Watch (before class): Century of the Self (59 minutes): “Part I: Happiness Machines”: