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 Recuperation (politics)

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mike lewis



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PostSubject: Recuperation (politics)   Wed 26 Sep 2012, 2:22 pm

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Recuperation, in the sociological sense, is the process by which politically radical ideas and images are twisted, co-opted, absorbed, defused, incorporated, annexed and commodified within media culture and bourgeois society, and thus become interpreted through a neutralized, innocuous or more socially conventional perspective.

More broadly, it may refer to the cultural appropriation of any subversive works or ideas by mainstrem and official culture. It is the opposite of détournement, in which images and other cultural artifacts are appropriated from mainstream sources and repurposed with radical intentions.

The concept in political philosophy of recuperation was first proposed by members of the Situationist International. The term conveys a negative connotation (so that an individual who recuperates may also be described as "selling out") because recuperation generally bears the intentional consequence (whether perceived or not) of fundamentally altering the meanings behind radical ideas due to their appropriation or being co-opted into the dominant discourse.




Quote :
A détournement is a technique developed in the 1950s by the Letterist International, and consist in "turning expressions of the capitalist system and its media culture against itself," like turning slogans and logos against the advertisers or the political status quo. Détournement was prominently used to set up subversive political pranks, an influential tactic called situationist prank that was reprised by the punk movement in the late 1970s and inspired the culture jamming movement in the late 1980s.

In general it can be defined as a variation on a previous media work, in which the newly created one has a meaning that is antagonistic or antithetical to the original. The original media work that is détourned must be somewhat familiar to the target audience, so that it can appreciate the opposition of the new message. The artist or commentator making the variation can reuse only some of the characteristic elements of the originating work. The term "détournement" is borrowed from the French, the original language of the Situationist International publications. A similar term more familiar to English speakers would be "turnabout" or "derailment".

Détournement is similar to satirical parody, but employs more direct reuse or faithful mimicry of the original works rather than constructing a new work which merely alludes strongly to the original. It may be contrasted with recuperation, in which originally subversive works and ideas are themselves appropriated by mainstream media.

One could view detournement as forming the opposite side of the coin to 'recuperation' (where radical ideas and images become safe and commodified), in that images produced by the spectacle get altered and subverted so that rather than supporting the status quo, their meaning becomes changed in order to put across a more radical or oppositional message.

The concept of détournement has had a popular influence amongst contemporary radicals, and the technique can be seen in action in the present day when looking at the work of Culture Jammers including the Cacophony Society, Billboard Liberation Front, Occupy Movements and Adbusters, whose 'subvertisements' 'detourn' Nike adverts, for example. In this case, the original advertisement's imagery is altered in order to draw attention to said company's policy of shifting their production base to cheap-labour third-world 'free trade zones'. However, the line between 'recuperation' and 'détournement' can become thin (or at least very fuzzy) at times, as Naomi Klein points out in her book No Logo. Here she details how corporations such as Nike, Pepsi or Diesel have approached Culture Jammers and Adbusters and offered them lucrative contracts in return for partaking in 'ironic' promotional campaigns. She points out further irony by drawing attention to merchandising produced in order to promote Adbusters' Buy Nothing Day, an example of the recuperation of détournement if ever there was one.

Klein's arguments about irony reifying rather than breaking down power structures are echoed by Slavoj Žižek. Žižek argues that the kind of distance opened up by detournement is the condition of possibility for ideology to operate: by attacking and distancing oneself from the sign-systems of capital, the subject creates a fantasy of transgression that "covers up" his/her actual complicity with capitalism as an overarching system.
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PostSubject: Re: Recuperation (politics)   Mon 01 Oct 2012, 7:52 pm

Recuperation and Ddétournement, 2 new words I will add to my vocabulary. Thanks.

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