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COMN3213 Labour in Communication and Cultural Industries

Final Essay (40%):

Due Date: June 20. Please email to [email protected]

Each student is required to write a short essay of 1500 to 2000 words in length, plus

bibliography. Your paper must have a title, clear introduction with thesis statement, and

arguments supported with examples. It must be double-spaced, in Times Roman 12 pt font

with reasonable margins. Your sources should be properly cited, using APA style

https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_style_introduction.html

Below is a list of suggested topics; however, you are also free to pursue a topic of your

choice, as long as it is related to the themes of the course.

List of Suggested Essay Topics

1. The Smartphone Society: Nicole Aschoff writes that “the smartphone is the defining

commodity of our era”. Introduce your reader to the impact of the smartphone on society

today. Consider how smartphones have impacted our work lives, our leisure time, and our

identities.

2. Culture Wars: Consider the current battle over statues, names, and cultural memory

more broadly. Using any relevant course material reflect on the significance of these

struggles. Feel free to focus on a specific example or event.

3. Frankfurt School, Birmingham School, and Participatory Culture: Compare and

contrast these three schools of thought or approaches in cultural theory.

4. Social Media: Social media has been criticized for enabling the spread of false

information and exacerbating the fragmentation of our social and political landscape.

Introduce your reader to some of the critiques of social media platforms and evaluate

these critiques.

5. No Future: In 1994, Fredric Jameson already noted that “it is easier to imagine the

end of the world than the end of capitalism” (Seeds of Time). Reflect on the relationship

between capitalism and the horizon of imagination in popular culture.

6. Four Futures: In Four Futures, Peter Frase sketches four possible scenarios for the

future. Which of the four (or a combination) do you see as the most likely outcome, given

current trends? Articulate a compelling argument for the future you expect to see.

7. Subcultures and Hegemony: Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style

suggests that subcultures can have political consequences because they often challenge

certain norms of social behaviour and can destabilize the hegemony of dominant social

groups. Introduce your reader to Hebdige’s theory of subcultures and the concepts on

which it is based, such as hegemony for example. Consider his theory in light of one or

several subcultures of your choice.

8. Alt-Right: Introduce your reader to the recent emergence of the Alt-Right in relation

to the course themes.

9. Surveillance in the Age of Big Data: Introduce your reader to the changing nature of

surveillance at a time when our most mundane behaviours have acquired new value.

Consider the role of tech giants like FaceBook and Google, among others.

10. The Social Industry: In The Twittering Machine (2019), Richard Seymour writes:

“When Theodore Adorno wrote of the ‘culture industry’, arguing that culture was being

universally commodified and homogenized, it was arguably an elitist simplification. Even

the Hollywood production-line showed more variation than Adorno admitted. The social

industry, by contrast, has gone much further, subjecting social life to an invariant written

formula.” Introduce your reader to the concept of the social industry. Examine it in

relation to the concept of the culture industry and reflect on power and limits of this

concept.

11. Cultural Labour and the Pandemic: Reflect on how the pandemic has affected our

social practices, our norms, our views, etc.