Manufacturing Dissent: An Interview with Stephen Duncombe

I came across an interview with Stephen Duncome, the author of “Dream:Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in the Age of Fantasy,” a book I really enjoyed and have been trying to utilize some of the ideas (you can see a first attempt in my essay called, “Desire and the Imgination of the Kingdom“). The book is about “participatory culture and participatory democracy” as Henry Jenkins puts it. The interview is very informative and gives the basic shape to what the book is about. In the interview Duncombe discusses what he calls the ‘ethical spectacle,’ politics and popular culture, ‘Obama Girl,’ and YouTube’s role in the presidential race. Here’s one quote from the book:

Progressives should have learned to build a politics that embraces the dreams of people and fashions spectacles which gives these fantasies form – a politics that employs symbols and associations, a politics that tells good stories. In brief, we should have learned to manufacture dissent…. Given the progressive ideals of egalitarianism and a politics that values the input of everyone, our dreamscapes will not be created by media-savvy experts of the left and then handed down to the rest of us to watch, consume, and believe. Instead, our spectacles will be participatory: dreams that the public can mold and shape themselves. They will be active: spectacles that work only if the people help create them. They will be open-ended: setting stages to ask questions and leaving silences to formulate answers. And they will be transparent: dreams that one knows are dreams but which still have power to attract and inspire. And, finally, the spectacles we create will not cover over or replace reality and truth but perform and amplify it.

(Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Manufacturing Dissent: An Interview with Stephen Duncombe (Part One))

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Published by Wess

Teacher, author, Quaker, ​and public theologian. He works at Guilford College, enjoys riding his Triumph Bonneville, and listening to music.

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