Stillborn: The Libidinal Economy of Gadgetized Mediation in the Era of Socialization for Consumption; An Explanatory Political Project
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This project captures an attempt to politicize one aspect of Western middle class youth’s everyday experience growing up and living in postindustrial consumer society—the replacement of experiential, material, and libidinal gratification with that of ideological satisfaction. The dissertation takes up problematic adolescent gaming as a site to interrogate the ways and means of technologically-backed consumer socialization, and draw out the implications for subject-formation and possibility of self-determination. Developing new ways to conceptualize politics of youth, the project re-reads existing academic research on youth and gaming. Its main goal is to create a theoretical framework that can sustain an understanding of the importance of consumerizing gadget-mediated self-self cultivation across the dimensions of political economy and its strict materiality, psycho-sociality and its relational concreteness, and the realm of the mind in which ideology meets consciousness. Under the guise of critiquing the banality of gaming studies, the project excavates ideas from various critical theory, phenomenological and psychoanalytic traditions to raise political questions of social reproduction and clarify a concretely political path beyond the present circumstances. I am interested in exploring how it is that generation after generation young people born in the compromised consumption-rendered centers of global capital do not revolt against the seemingly repressive institutions shaping their lives. In this question, there is an intergenerational politics, a politics in which the question of youth and their otherness is crashed into the structuration of political economy and social reproduction within it. This is ultimately the theme of my inquiry. The present work is a study of gaming as a site where we should expect to see the manifestations of this kind of intersection, but instead what we see is a single-minded preference for celebrating the gaming industry and securing the ideologically soothing reproduction. I want to address the politics signaled by the changing role of play in advanced consumer economy, where in the site of gaming, through controlled bursts of traumatization and regularization, prediction of subjective experience is commodified into the global capitalistic circuits.