1) Explain in your own words 16 of the following 20 terms:- alienation, commodity, commodity fetishism, value, exchange value, use value, relations of production, forces of production, contradiction, relation, capital, class, class-in-itself and class-for-itself, dialectic, pre-history, history, totality, primitive communism, socialism (1.5 points for each). You can draw from Marx, Merleau-Ponty or Sartre, although these terms are mainly chosen to demonstrate your understanding of Marx. Whenever possible, please illustrate your explanation with a quote showing the use of the word in one of these authors. (24 points)

These definitions rely upon the original source materials, my class notes, and

alienation: the state in which an agent (most notably a human, but also groups and institutions) becomes removed from the results of its own activity, its nature, fellow agents, and even itself. Marx augmented the concept from fellow scholars such Hegel (estrangement from the natural world) and Feuerbach (estrangement from one's own activities). For Marx, the concept was the basis for proposing the “de-alienation” of man and the restoration of his relationships with peers and society via socialism. "Universally developed individuals, whose social relations, as their own communal relations, are hence also subordinated to their own communal control, are no product of nature, but of history. The degree and the universality of the development of wealth where this individuality becomes possible supposes production on the basis of exchange values as a prior condition whose universality produces not only the alienation of the individual from himself and from others, but also the universality and the comprehensiveness of his relations and capacities." [Grundrisse]

commodity: the form of a product in a capitalistic system that, through exchange, becomes dissociated from its ability to satisfy the human wants of its producers (use value) and instead is exchanged for its ability to be exchanged yet again for other commodities (exchange value). This concept is then used in Marx's conception of capital, fetishism, and the treatment of labor as a commodity. "The simple circulation of commodities - selling in order to buy - is a means of carrying out a purpose unconnected with circulation, namely, the appropriation of use-values, the satisfaction of wants.” [Capital I, Chapter 4]

commodity fetishism: A consequent of the commodity in capitalism whereby the human quality in an exchange between producers (e.g., between a farmer and baker) is concealed by their shift of focus from each other towards the actual commodity. “In that world the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men's hands. This I call the Fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labour, so soon as they are produced as commodities, and which is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities.” [Capital I, Chapter 1]

value: An abstraction arising from the interplay of use value and exchange value that signifies the underlying labour-power used to produce a commodity. “Let us now consider the residue of each of these products; it consists of the same unsubstantial reality in each, a mere congelation of homogeneous human labour, of labour-power expended without regard to the mode of its expenditure. All that these things now tell us is, that human labour-power has been expended in their production, that human labour is embodied in them. When looked at as crystals of this social substance, common to them all, they are -Values.  We have seen that when commodities are exchanged, their exchange-value manifests itself as something totally independent of their use-value. But if we abstract from their use-value, there remains their Value as defined above. Therefore, the common substance that manifests itself in the exchange-value of commodities, whenever they are exchanged, is their value.” [Capital I, Chapter 1]

use value: a characteristic of a commodity that is its (inherent) utility for satisfying human needs. “The utility of a thing makes it a use-value. But this utility is not a thing of air. Being limited by the physical properties of the commodity, it has no existence apart from that commodity. A commodity, such as iron, corn, or a diamond, is therefore, so far as it is a material thing, a use-value, something useful.“ [Capital I, Chapter 1]

exchange value: a characteristic of a commodity that results from a (non-intrinsic) quantitative determination resulting from equating, via exchange, one set of commodities' use-values with that of another set."Whenever, by an exchange, we equate as values our different products, by that very act, we also equate, as human labour, the different kind of labour expended upon them. We are not aware of this, nevertheless we do it." [ Capital I, Chapter 1]

relations of production: the set of social relationships, most notably ownership, emerging from the interaction of people in the production and exchange of material wealth. “In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness”[A Contribution to the Critique of Political, Preface]

forces of production: the unity of the means of production (instruments and subjects of production) with labour. The forces and relations of production are related via a dialectic. They are often synergistic but can also fall out of step before a new synthesis emerges. For example, an innovation in the forces of production (e.g., steam engine) or relations of production (e.g., abolishment of private property) might both drive and oppose the other. “Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production. No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society. “ [A Contribution to the Critique of Political, Preface]



capital: Simply, an asset or an accumulation of money. Marx's conceptualization is more complex and represents the social relation of production embedded in and intrinsic to the historical development of capitalism, wherein the power of the capitalist class confronts the “living labor power.” “However, capital is not a thing, but rather a definite social production relation, belonging to a definite historical formation of society, which is manifested in a thing and lends this thing a specific social character. Capital is not the sum of the material and produced means of production. Capital is rather the means of production transformed into capital, which in themselves are no more capital than gold or silver in itself is money.” [Capital III, Chapter 48]

class: A means of identify collections of people sharing common conditions and relations to labor. Marx's identification of the proletariat and bourgeoisie classes is the basis for his consideration of their historical development, and their structure and relation to one another, particularly in the form of class conflict. “... finally, the distinction between capitalist and landlord, between agricultural worker and industrial worker, disappears and the whole of society must split into the two classes of property owners and propertyless workers.”

class-in-itself: ...

class-for-itself: ...

dialectic: The philosophical method of consideration via debate and argument. Hegel described it as a process of  development in which thesis and its opposite, anti-thesis, yield a new reality/understanding of synthesis. Marx and Engels abandoned Hegel's idealism but applied the concept of opposition and synthesis in dialectical materialism: a natural process of historical development. “... if this rupture had made its way not from reality into the textbooks, but rather from the textbooks into reality, and as if the task were the dialectic balancing of concepts, and not the grasping of real relations!” [Grundrisse, Chapter 1]

pre-history: In Marx's conception of history, the (contemporary) history of those stages preceding communism. “The second point is that the satisfaction of the first need (the action of satisfying, and the instrument of satisfaction which has been acquired) leads to new needs; and this production of new needs is the first historical act. Here we recognize immediately the spiritual ancestry of the great historical wisdom of the Germans who, when they run out of positive material and when they can serve up neither theological nor political nor literary rubbish, assert that this is not history at all, but the "prehistoric era". They do not, however, enlighten us as to how we proceed from this nonsensical "prehistory" to history proper; although, on the other hand, in their historical speculation they seize upon this "prehistory" with especial eagerness because they imagine themselves safe there from interference on the part of "crude facts", and, at the same time, because there they can give full rein to their speculative impulse and set up and knock down hypotheses by the thousand.“ [The German Ideology: Part I: Feuerbach.]

history: Marx used the term “history” generically and in the context of his dialectical materialism, but also as a rhetorical device to indicate the forthcoming events of a communist future. In this context, the popular Marxist quotation from the Manifesto “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,” is perhaps best interpreted as “The prehistory of all...”

totality: A dialectical concept: the encompassing inclusion of oppositional and transformative elements as a whole. This term too, was adapted from Hegel, and subsequent Marxist thinkers continued to concern themselves with its meaning. In particular, totality is critical to Sartre's Search for a Method wherein he attacks the rigidity of many Marxists for failing to appreciate the totality of human experience, including that of the individual. “Thus things have now come to such a pass that the individuals must appropriate the existing totality of productive forces, not only to achieve self-activity, but, also, merely to safeguard their very existence.” [The German Ideology: Part I: Feuerbach.]

primitive communism: A posited state of relations in “primitive” societies, inspired in part by the Iroquois, in which there is a collective right to basic resources, and lack of authoritarian rule or hereditary right. Regardless of the debates surrounding the anthropological claims and communistic purity of primitivism, the concept inspired many radicals disenchanted within their modern industrialist context. Within Marxist history, this is the first stage preceding slave-owning, feudalistic, capitalistic, and communistic societies. “At all earlier STAGES of society production was essentially collective, just as consumption proceeded by direct distribution of the products within larger or smaller communistic communities.” [Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State", "Barbarism and Civilization"]

socialism: To Marx and Engels, the stage preceding communism and following capitalism's destruction via its own historical processes, including revolution by the proletariat. Once the socialist state has implemented its program of abolishing landed  property, heavy graduated taxes, state ownership of the means of production, free education, etc., the state was expected to whither away and genuine (mature) communism would ensue. “From this we may form an estimate of the shrewdness of the petit-bourgeois socialism. which, while perpetuating the production of commodities, aims at abolishing the "antagonism" between money and commodities, and consequently, since money exists only by virtue of this antagonism, at abolishing money itself.” [Capital I, Chapter 2, Footnote 4]

5) Piaget provides a wealth of examples for thinking about structure as both model and metaphor for explanation in the human sciences. He provides language to distinguish habits of thought social scientists are accustomed to, and thus clarifies and renders precise the kinds of conceptual maneuvers they undertake, or ought to. In your own “search for a method,” indicate the lessons you are able to derive from Piaget for social inquiry. (25 points)


In my own philosophical musings structures provide a great deal of explanatory power for obtaining an understanding of phenomena. For example, in The Blind Watchmaker Richard Dawkins considers the ordering of pebbles on a beach: smaller pebbles are closer to the water, larger pebbles are further up the shore. Clearly there is order; there is structure. The question then is from whence has this order derived? Some might posit agency of the pebbles or divine will, however the scientific method is to look to the hidden and emergent phenomena of waves as a natural sieve, a wholeness consisting of the constituent elements of stones and water (and their properties such as size and speed) interacting via transformative laws of physical interaction in a self-regulatory manner without need of external intervention.

To the structuralist, this “sorting” – or any other natural – phenomena is not a simple combination of elements because,“All structuralists recognize as fundamental the contrast between structures and aggregates, the former being wholes, the latter composites formed of elements that are independent of the complexes into which they enter.” (Piaget, 7) Nor are these transformations exceptional, but are themselves both structuring and structured (10). The transformation of a clumsy rock into a round pebble which is then more easily “sorted” by subsequent tumbles of the surf is a feedback loop, “Rhythm, regulation, operation, these are the three basic mechanisms of self-regulation and self-maintenance.” (16)

As discussed in class the general lessons we might extract from Jean Piaget's Structuralism are that everything has significance since it is part of a larger whole. An individual is a partial author of his actions and can be studied in detail (akin to Sartre's biographical treatments) but needs to be kept in the context of the larger structure. However, structures are not necessarily manifest; they are often hidden from agents, complex, and multi-layered. Furthermore, every structure is always under construction via rules of transformation, a process guided by its own structures and restructuring. Consequently, one can study human institutions as a holistic set of relations that represent/codify sets of rules of social behavior.

 In order to flesh out and instantiate this conceptualization of structure Piaget considered the disciplines of mathematics and logic, physical and biological sciences, psychology, linguistics, social science, and philosophy. I briefly summarize lessons and methods one might take from Piaget's survey in my own social inquiry.

Structuralist Methods Apparent in the Disciplines

Piaget's presentation of the mathematical concept of the group demonstrates a modularity/nesting within structure (the algebraic, order and topologic parental structures) and the two methods of transformation/construction (combination and differentiation). However, Piaget found logic to be lacking in two respects. First, logical constructs “are fabricated ad hoc, and structuralism is really after is the discovery of the 'natural structures'”. Second, a logical system is only a relative whole, it remains “open” on the “top” with respect to those formulas that are indemonstrable within the system as Gödel demonstrated (32), and on the “bottom” with respect to unsatisfactorily implicit axioms/elements. Fortunately, not all is lost, this frailty provides us with the notion for “weak” and “strong” structures and an understanding of “construction” as an impetus to find higher order structures.

To Piaget, the physical sciences provide the tool of causation, and the first indication of the common current of structuralism between the disciplines. With mathematics, “This harmony between mathematics and physical reality cannot, in positivist fashion, be written of simply the correspondence of a language with the thing it designates.” (40) In biology, Waddington's theory of “genetic assimilation” of genes and phenotypic expression (including behavior) provides links to ethnography and psychology. (50) Furthermore, Bernard provides us with the concept of “homeostasis” of organic/physiological self-regulation. (47)

The psychological theory of Gestalten is sympathetic to the structuralist as it posits a structural whole: our experiences are not derived solely from our simple sensations. For example, our perception of a movie as a near reality is predicated on numerous cognitive effects including shading, false perspective, and the perception of motion from singular flickers of a lighted image.

Chomsky's linguistic structuralism (81) provides us a class of generative grammars (constructing complex structures via iteration and composition from simpler ones), and the placement of grammatical structures as an innate cognitive ability – another structural bridge spanning the disciplines, this time to biology.

Piaget provides us with three types of structuralism in the social sciences that are not exclusive but focus attention on its critical concepts. The global structuralism of Durkheim emphasizes totality, whereas the analytic structuralism of Mauss (e.g., The Gift) highlights the importance of transformational interactions. (98) Levi-Strauss' anthropological structuralism is the placement of many of these concepts within the relations of social life, “all social life, however elementary, presupposes an intellectual activity in man of which the formal properties cannot, accordingly, be a reflection of the concrete organization of society” (107) Finally, in philosophy Piaget lays claim to the dialectical method as a structuralist tool, “structuralism has always been linked with a constructivism from which the epithet 'dialectical' can hardly be withheld” (121).


While Piaget's exhaustive survey of diverse disciplines with common structuralist properties (4) is presented as a strength, it can also be a weakness. The lens of structuralism can distort as much as it can edify. The human mind is an eager recognizer of patterns and structure: it can incorrectly recognize phenomena and mistakenly attribute causality.  Consequently, a cautionary note within my method is to be aware of “ illusory correlation”, two of the most common fallacies being hindsight bias, where one sees patterns after the fact, and confirmation bias, where one interprets the present based on prejudicial experience. Piaget alluded to this problem as well, “The mode of existence of a structure must be determined separately for each particular area of investigation”(5) and he, and the practitioners within each discipline, do try to make careful distinctions. However, it is not apparent if Structuralism itself offers any such self-regulatory methods of its own.

6) Marcel Mauss explains the form and function of gift exchange, and thus helps to indicate how the idea of society, as a totality that pre-exists its individual components, is actually performed and realized. Explain his argument with examples, indicating their relevance for an understanding of communication as exchange. What factors renders communication distinct from the exchange of material goods, and how do we account for them in applying Mauss’s analysis to communication? points)


In Marcel Mauss' The Gift, he set out to ask the question, “What rule of legality and self-interest, in societies of a backward or archaic type, compels the gift that has been received to be obligatorily reciprocated?” (Mauss 3) This question itself is based on a presumption that to be human is to be civilized, and to look at archaic culture is to expose the essential elements of society. Furthermore, his answer to the question is anticipated by a structuralist view wherein the “wholeness” of a unity is greater than the sum of its elements and extends from the relationship between those parts in their totality. Consequently, he examines gift exchange within archaic societies in order to identify the relationships within, absent the complicating layers of “modern” culture.

A simple example of the import of totality is given by Mauss' fellow structuralist, Jean Piaget (Structuralism), who noted that one can recognize a melody even if one changes the key of the constituent notes. For Mauss' part, he did not concern himself with individual personalities, instead he identified the roles and functions within societies and, most importantly, their inter-relationships via gift exchange. Mauss did not dwell on the physical strength of a king, nor the kindness of a spouse. He considered the role of gift giving between nobles (i.e., the “kula” trade of the Trobriand islands (22)) as a possible alternative to war, "To trade, the first condition was to be able to lay aside the spear." (82). Mauss believed that the exchange of presents within a family where a mechanism for establishing and maintaining important bonds. As characterized by Mary Douglas in her forward No Free Gifts, Mauss' response to the idea that a present from a husband to his wife is altruistic might be, “Pure gift! Nonsense!” (viii).

However, while I believe Mauss' thesis is relevant to the consideration of “communication as exchange”, Mauss himself did  not address this question. Instead, he considered gift exchange as a response to the individualism of British utilitarianism and commodity exchange. It is this opposition of gift and commodity exchange that I will use as a bridge for considering communication. I will offer the three planks on this relatively short bridge consisting of (1) materiality, (2) motivation and consequence, and (3) the totality and quantifiability of that which is exchanged; each accompanied by my own thoughts on how communication is less like the exchange of material goods, and more like the exchange of gifts.


Mauss felt that the goal of gift exchange among its participants was not material accumulation, but the accumulation of social bonds, or “mana, that authority – the talisman and source of wealth that is authority itself” (8). This mana is gained by giving and lost by failing to reciprocate, and exceeds the corporal domain. The “taonga” gift of the Polynesians has “hau”, “which itself moreover posses a kind of individuality” (12), it is a spiritual essence associated with the previous owner and embedded in the object. Furthermore, the exchange happens in the presence of the gods and nature (14) and it is the spirits that are the true owners of the possessions and with whom the contract is made (16).

Verbal communication was often thought to traverse ether, an undefined but present nothingness. And while the artifacts of historical media (e.g., books, transmitters, computers, etc.) are material, they are not themselves communication. The very purpose of communication is to relate, to inform, to build and maintain social relationships, much like a gift.

Motivation and Consequence

Mauss felt that gifts are threads in the fabric of social relations. They are the mechanism that drives the obligation to give, to receive, and to reciprocate; they are not motivated by individual material greed. In fact, the potlatch's “sumptuary destruction of wealth that has been accumulated in order to outdo the rival chief” (6) is an explicit demonstration of the non-materiality of these exchanges! Consequently, individuals are not alienated from the objects of exchange. In Marxist terms, if there is a fetish, it is one of social (via the community) and temporal (via the chain of owners) relationships – not alienation. While the base is exchange, the superstructure is reciprocation.

While one might hoard the artifacts of communication that I previously mentioned, one can not hoard communication itself. In most circumstances, speaking is non-rivalrous, if I interact and communicate with my peers I do not cause them deprivation nor create a stock pile of “speech”, instead I have more likely built relationships with my peers, much like a gift.

Totality and Quanitifiability

A critical point of Mauss' conception of gift exchange was that it was totalizing. The exchange of the gift was an exchange across all planes of society: mythological, religious, moral, juridical, and economical. Commodities force these characteristics to be separated and independently evaluated – again, resulting in alienation. In Melanesia, the archaic form of society prohibited segmentation, “The stumbling block ... was their inability to isolate and divide up their economic and juridical concepts. But they had no need to do so. In these societies neither the clan nor the family is able to isolate itself or dissociate its actions.” (32)

Furthermore, Mauss has left the metrics of gift exchange relatively fuzzy. While he does mention reciprocation with interest (42), the reckoning for that interest is not discussed. Indeed, it's in Mauss' interest to avoid this question as he seemingly advocates for the result of imperfect exchange equivalencies. The precise calibration across unlike things (work, time, money) that is demanded of commodity is not required, nor necessary, of the gift. “These phenomena allow us to think that this principle of the exchange-gift must have been that of societies that have gone beyond the phase of “total services” (from clan to clan, and family to family) but have not yet reached that of purely individual contract, of the market where money circulates, of sale proper, and above all of the notion of price reckoned in coinage weighed and stamped with its value.” (46) In the exchange of commodities, these equivalences of value and time deprives us of the ability to discuss and understand the concept of totalizing reciprocity.

A television might be monochrome or color, a word might be cast in a 12 point font, but again these are characteristics of the communication artifact. While I strive for “clarity of understanding, complexity and detail of exposition, and precision and succinctness of writing,” I'm learning that many communication theorists resist the notion that one can accurately communicate an author's intent. For better and worse our own linguistic “stumbling block” compels us to consider the intent, history, and context of those that we communicate with. In this way too, communication can be like a gift, difficult to quantify and intrinsically totalizing.

7) Answer any two of the following three questions. A) In what respects did the Frankfurt School’s political sociology represent a shift from previous (i) liberal and (ii) Marxist ideas, written as it was with the onset of fascism, mass culture and the perceived failure of the Russian Revolution? What were some of its (the Frankfurt School’s) main contributions on this subject? B) Indicate some of the key aspects of the cultural theory of these writers, in relation to: (i) the shift from traditional community (gemeinschaft)  to modern social organization (gesellschaft) (per Tonnies); (ii) rationalization as the cardinal feature of modernity (per Weber), and (iii) reification as the logic of capitalism (per Lukacs).  Explain the significance of Benjamin’s idea of the dialectic at a standstill, as distinct from the approach of say, Adorno. B) Indicate some of the key aspects of the cultural theory of these writers, in relation to: (i) the shift from traditional community (gemeinschaft)  to modern social organization (gesellschaft) (per Tonnies); (ii) rationalization as the cardinal feature of modernity (per Weber), and (iii) reification as the logic of capitalism (per Lukacs).  Explain the significance of Benjamin’s idea of the dialectic at a standstill, as distinct from the approach of say, Adorno.

The shift in the Frankfurt School represents the recognition and attempt to critique a new stage in history. Marx's theory of historical materialism predicted that capitalism would be the last “pre-historical” stage prior to socialism (raw communism), followed by communism. Based on his labor theory of value, Marx posited that the alienation and instability of the labor pool, the decreasing rates of profit for firms, the regular and severe collapse of the market, and the concentration of wealth would inevitably lead to the end of capitalism and the birth of communism. However, this prediction never came to fruition. Scholars such as Sartre and Merleau-Ponty grappled with this short-coming by turning their attention to methodological considerations focused upon the role of the  intermediate socialist state, the Proletariat, and the Party. However, in light of the failure of the Russian Revolution and the rise of fascism, the Frankfurt School reconsidered the problem and method. Instead of communism, the self-destructive impulses of capitalism led to a mutation instead of destruction. Consequently, the Frankfurt School authors turned their attention to the power of state supported monopolistic capitalism and the social “super structure,” including culture. (While some, such as Benjamin, looked back upon the earlier “competitive capital” liberalism with some nostalgia – even the bourgeoisie home had praiseworthy elements – none of the authors felt that it was a satisfactory, or, more importantly, sustainable stage of development.)

While Marx recognized the role of State “reform” and “regulation” in lengthening the work day under “capital's” influence, he otherwise focused on the primacy of the “economic base.” Consequently the Marxist critique of society was that of political economy: the disguise of class hierarchy through the appearance of equivalent exchange, and the equating of liberty and equality with property ownership and individualism. However, state capitalism displaces political-economic controls with the political-administrative methods of efficiency. It defends itself via the “technical veil” of bureaucracy rationalized as progress, and so now a critique of technocratic politics and culture is necessary.

The Frankfurt School's contributions to this shift was, as stated, the identification of the capitalistic logic bleeding into the superstructure, and offering a body of critique. However, the development of a critique was not accompanied by an exuberant sense of accomplishment, an eminent sense of utopia, nor even uniform agreement. The tragedies of the fascist and totalitarian regimes were not irrational, but the logical consequent of the embodiment of demagoguery and means-end rationality in the institutions of society.

As part of the social movement from community (gemeinschaft)  to modern social organization (gesellschaft), we lose, among other things, our communal bases of memory and ways of relating to each other. Kircheimer examined mass democracy, compromise, and group formation and found them lacking. Weber argued that, in part, because of the dominance of the protestant work ethic in Western society, we substituted substantive reason with formal/instrumental rationality. “Rationalization, for Weber the key to all modernization and industrialization, represents the historical (originally under capitalism) penetration of all spheres of social life: the economy, culture (art, religion and science), technology, law and politics, and every day life by a single logic of formal rationality” ... “without regards for persons” (Areto and Gebhardt, 191). Lukács identified the consequent  second nature  of experienced reality and the resulting crisis of individuality when the person is integrated into this impersonal system.

What then kept people from realizing their true state? Frankfurt School authors (Marcuse in particular) articulated the role of communications in the new world order via a conceptualization of false-consciousness which indoctrinates and manipulates people so as to obscure falsehood.  Lukács' concept of reification also helps explain this veil: given that the logic of capitalism has bled into the superstructure, so does its commodity fetishism. People lose not only productive relations via their economic exchange, but their cultural/social interactions and perceptions.

The critical response of Frankfurt School authors (Adorno in particular) was to employ both immanent critique (to consider the consistency between precepts and conclusions within an ideology) and transcendent critique (to examine an ideology from an external point of view and challenge its precepts) to mass culture. They (Adorno and Horkheimer in particular)  articulated a “negative dialectic” employed to compare a conceptualization (e.g., capitalism) with its exercised reality. Furthermore, one could employ mediation as a defetishizing critique (taking away its “thingness” and placing it in its proper context) so as to disturb the illusions that maintain the stability and equilibrium of the dominant social order.

However, “To Benjamin, even dialectic could only reveal and express antinomy and not surpass it.” (206) Yet, according to Benjamin, while the dialectic was at a standstill one might subject familiar phenomena to estrangement or shock-effect. “It is the juxtaposition that is called the 'dialectical image,' standing still without resolution but inviting the dreamer to awake.” Based on the readings and other research, I can't easily contrast the mediation and negative dialect from the dialectic at standstill – in some respects they seem rather similar. I can note that the character of much of Adorno's and Benjamin's debate concerned their views on the masses and mass media, of which Adorno was highly critical, and which Bejamin approached as a careful agnostic.