Contemporary Capitalism As an Economics of Seduction: Ethics and Justice Defined By an Aesthetic Principle of Pleasure

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: Booth 43
Oral Presentation
Ulla KARTTUNEN , University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland
In neoliberal society, aesthetic seduction has become an important operator in economics. Commodities are successful only if they lure consumers. From an economics oriented towards practical and functional needs, there’s a shift to multiplied fields of aesthetic productions. Aesthetic refinement has become the inner rationality and power element of neoliberal or post-neoliberal society.

When searching for the cultural logic of neoliberalism we must take seduction, the aesthetic powers of attraction, seriously. In this paper I will argue that the long-term commodification process has not only written the aesthetic principle of pleasure under producers’ and consumers’ skin but it might also be seen in ethical standards or even in legal proceedings. What it means to human culture and basic question of equality if ethics and justice are understood under market-based terms and values?

Gerhard Schulze has discussed of ”the experience society”, and Pine and Gilmore in their business theory of ”the experience economy”. Consumers are known to find experiences and emotions through services and commodities, but this theory could be developed forwards, by activating mental concepts, like experience or emotion, with more primal bodily connections and conceptualizations. Zygmunt Bauman has moved into this direction, by speaking of ”the aesthetic of consumption”, and of consumers as divided into the seduced and the repressed.

Are there any space for controversial or critical voices under the hegemony of seduction markets? The question is analyzed by taking a recent art censorship case, in which the court sentenced different terms for market and art referring it; business actions in porn industry were taken as legal, while art criticizing the same field was understood as a crime. Does the neoliberal ethics already demand that acts of anti-seduction – like market-critical art – can be interpreted as crimes?