Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Images Within Intervals Of Darkness

Political socialization is but a sub-component of the comprehensive project of identity. The lure of comfortable categorizations must be eschewed to make way for more dynamic models that can handle the demands of vigorous states of flux, wherein immersed both lived and imagined lives. This discourse aims to find significant correlates between the process of political socialization and the media – specifically, films – which intersection may provide a liminal stage where individuals formulate the elements that can motivate manifest political action. It is hoped that a greater understanding of the dynamic relationship between the accessed world and the conceptualization of the self can contribute to the positive utilization of media - by filmmakers, distributors, exhibitors and other stockholders - towards effective political socialization and mobilization. Furthermore, an understanding of the diverse political cues, activities, and messages can give film audiences better sets of “tools” with which to chart their political world and their place within it, helping them become more informed, more responsible, and hopefully, more discerning consumers of film and other media products.

Arjun Appadurai, in his article “Global Ethnoscapes,” stated that “the link between the imagination and social life … is increasingly a global and deterritorialized one … ethonography must redefine itself as the practice of representation which illuminates the power of large-scale, imagined life possibilities over specific life trajectories … a new alertness to the fact that ordinary lives today are increasingly powered not by the givenness of things but by the possibilities that the media suggest are available.” (Appadurai: 1991) The framework within which the self is conceptualized will be focused on the negotiation process that happens on the liminal stage, a threshold (limen) “betwixt and between” more established elements of the social process. This stage of constant flux provides an effective space wherein individuals can negotiate the components of their identity amidst nascent and constantly reformulated rules – a formative space of liminality.

The media plays an important role within the realm of identity formation because it provides a consistent source of input for both lived and imagined lives. Popular access films of all genres occupy a prominent position within these dynamic realms. It is proposed that the consumption of these films provide the liminal stage whereon individuals negotiate and align their values and ends. In turn, upon the inevitable involvement of others, this hierarchy of values and ends is further negotiated and aligned to form a system of shared or consensual meaning – the product of political socialization. This system can serve as a set of criteria for judgement, preference, and choice when it is fully conceptualized and explicitly formulated; hence, the motivation for manifest political action.

The discourse anticipates a significant relationship between films and the process of political socialization through analytical correlates that can be discerned within the state of liminality. It is hoped that this conversation can help provide the motivation for media producers to take greater responsibility in the manufacture and distribution of film products and for media consumers to become more discerning users of cultural products. Film, above all, is a cultural product that can be an important and effective means of education, socialization, and action within areas of governance, environment, labor, and other pertinent societal concerns.

Ref.: Appadurai, Arjun, “Global Ethnoscapes” in Fox, Richard G., Ed., Recapturing Anthropology, School of American Research Press, Santa Fe, NM, USA: 1991, p. 200.

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