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Societies, Volume 3, Issue 4 (December 2013), Pages 332-510

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Research

Open AccessArticle The Haunting of L.S. Lowry: Class, Mass Spectatorship and the Image at The Lowry, Salford, UK
Societies 2013, 3(4), 332-347; doi:10.3390/soc3040332
Received: 4 September 2013 / Revised: 16 October 2013 / Accepted: 17 October 2013 / Published: 18 October 2013
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Abstract
In a series of momentary encounters with the surface details of The Lowry Centre, a cultural venue located in Salford, Greater Manchester, UK, this article considers the fate of the image evoked by the centre’s production and staging of cultural experience. Benjamin’s notion
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In a series of momentary encounters with the surface details of The Lowry Centre, a cultural venue located in Salford, Greater Manchester, UK, this article considers the fate of the image evoked by the centre’s production and staging of cultural experience. Benjamin’s notion of ‘aura’ as inimical to transformations of art and cultural spectatorship is explored, alongside its fatal incarnation in Baudrillard’s concept of ‘simulation’. L.S. Lowry, I argue, occupies the space as a medium: both as a central figure of transmission of the centre’s narrative of inclusivity through cultural regeneration, and as one who communes with phantoms: remainders of the working-class life and culture that once occupied this locale. Through an exploration of various installations there in his name, Lowry is configured as a ‘destructive character’, who, by making possible an alternative route through its spaces, refuses to allow The Lowry Centre to insulate itself from its locale and the debt it owes to its past. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ghost-towns: Cityscapes, Memories and Critical Theory)
Open AccessArticle From Labour to National Ideals: Ending the War in Asia Minor—Controlling Communism in Greece
Societies 2013, 3(4), 348-382; doi:10.3390/soc3040348
Received: 22 July 2013 / Revised: 16 October 2013 / Accepted: 17 October 2013 / Published: 21 October 2013
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Abstract
This paper will try to shed light on a very particular angle of Greek political geography after the end of the Asia Minor War. As a result of this conflict almost 1.3 million refugees fled to Greece and changed dramatically its political space.
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This paper will try to shed light on a very particular angle of Greek political geography after the end of the Asia Minor War. As a result of this conflict almost 1.3 million refugees fled to Greece and changed dramatically its political space. The traditional view among the scholars of the period promotes an “exceptionalism” of the Greek-Orthodox refugees who fled to Greece after 1922. It is argued that the Asia Minor workers did not largely espouse an a priori notion of class, since they had a bourgeoisie economic and social background. However, in the 1930s there was a sharp increase in the support of the Left. Accordingly, the Communist Party pulled 5.76% of the vote, which was the highest in the inter-war period. Although the percentage of the communist vote was not so high all over Greece, Communism had a real electorate appeal for urban refugees. This study will challenge the exceptionalist perspective and will investigate why the same people who voted for Liberals in the 1920s voted for Communists in the 1930s. It will also examine how the Greek political system managed to incorporate the left-wing vote by transforming the division of society from labour and political demands to national ones in the period under examination. The focus will be also on the interplay between Communism and refugees, which is undervalued by most research on the topic, even though the communist threat was used as a reason or pretext for the abolition of parliamentary democracy and the establishment of Ioannis Metaxas’ dictatorship in 1936. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue War/Wars and Society)
Open AccessArticle Biased Estimation of Violent Video Game Effects on Aggression: Contributing Factors and Boundary Conditions
Societies 2013, 3(4), 383-398; doi:10.3390/soc3040383
Received: 16 September 2013 / Revised: 8 October 2013 / Accepted: 18 October 2013 / Published: 25 October 2013
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Abstract
In order to improve the understanding of media violence effects, it is crucial to extend knowledge about factors that threaten the validity of such effects in empirical research. Research artifacts can be expected when participants are (a) aware of a scientist’s hypothesis, (b)
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In order to improve the understanding of media violence effects, it is crucial to extend knowledge about factors that threaten the validity of such effects in empirical research. Research artifacts can be expected when participants are (a) aware of a scientist’s hypothesis, (b) motivated to confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis, and (c) capable of manipulating their responses in line with their motivation. Based on social identity theory (SIT) and self-categorization theory (SCT), we assumed that identifying with the social group of video game players would provide a motivation to disconfirm the “violent video games increase aggression” hypothesis. We further assumed that the use of nontransparent aggression measures and cover stories would prevent research artifacts. Our results showed that highly identified (compared to lowly identified) players of video games reported less aggression on a transparent aggression measure but not on a nontransparent aggression measure. However, providing participants with a cover story did not prevent hypothesis awareness nor eliminate hypothesis-disconfirming response patterns. These results provide empirical support for the ideas that (a) motivational factors may contribute to a biased estimation of media violence effects, (b) cover stories may not always be effective, and (c) the use of nontransparent aggression measures can provide a valid methodological approach for avoiding biases in media effects research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Understanding Media Violence Effects)
Open AccessArticle If Only the French Republicans Had Known This: The Week as a Social Fact
Societies 2013, 3(4), 399-413; doi:10.3390/soc3040399
Received: 6 August 2013 / Revised: 21 October 2013 / Accepted: 24 October 2013 / Published: 29 October 2013
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Abstract
During the French Revolution and inspired by the Enlightenment, an attempt was made to replace the Gregorian calendar (which was based on ‘irrational’ overlapping cycles linked to religious celebrations) by the Republican calendar (which was based on ‘rational’ clearly nested cycles in accordance
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During the French Revolution and inspired by the Enlightenment, an attempt was made to replace the Gregorian calendar (which was based on ‘irrational’ overlapping cycles linked to religious celebrations) by the Republican calendar (which was based on ‘rational’ clearly nested cycles in accordance with the metric system). Although the starting point was an ideological and aesthetic expression of rationalism, this calendar also had to fulfill a coordinating and integrating function. Thus the calendric reform faced a tremendous challenge: re-creating a socio-temporal order. One of the crucial socio-temporal frameworks that guide daily behavior in Western societies is the 7-day cycle of the week. In the new calendar, the week was to be replaced by the 10-day cycle or the décade, which turned out the greatest stumbling block for calendar-reformation. Theoretically this is explained by the social nature of time and the ‘second nature’ of time reckoning, but the unawareness of a socially established weekly rhythm in our daily behavior is hard to illustrate. Today, however, society is full of traces of so-called ‘big data’ that humans leave behind. This paper uses ‘big data’ on re-charges of electronic keys to show that even though a 10-day re-charging cycle is proposed, a 7-day re-charging cycle will surface. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Homes for Ghosts: Walter Benjamin and Kurt Schwitters in the Cities
Societies 2013, 3(4), 414-426; doi:10.3390/soc3040414
Received: 9 September 2013 / Revised: 22 October 2013 / Accepted: 28 October 2013 / Published: 30 October 2013
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Abstract
Under the influence of Freud’s dream analysis, Benjamin writes down a dream about Goethe’s house, which he has visited before and in whose visitor’s book he finds his name ‘already entered in big, unruly, childish scrawl’ and at whose dinner table he finds
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Under the influence of Freud’s dream analysis, Benjamin writes down a dream about Goethe’s house, which he has visited before and in whose visitor’s book he finds his name ‘already entered in big, unruly, childish scrawl’ and at whose dinner table he finds places set for his relatives, ancestors and descendants. This leads him to exclaim: when the ‘house of our life…is under assault and enemy bombs are taking their toll, what enervated, perverse antiquities do they not lay bare in the foundations!’. Benjamin’s other homes, his exile homes, real and those imaged—such as the cave-like arcades—are considered in this essay as repositories of ‘perverse antiquities’ and spaces inhabited by ghosts not just the ghosts of Goethe, but of friends who committed suicide in protest at war. These ghost-filled homes are set alongside those of a fellow exile, Kurt Schwitters, who built for himself three ‘Merzbau’ home-museums, each one as incomplete as Benjamin’s Arcades Project, each one wrecked by war, like that project too. Schwitters addresses the ghosts of the cities head on in his stories and artworks from exile—these are read alongside the effort to produce a safe domestic space, at whose centre is the death mask of his son. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ghost-towns: Cityscapes, Memories and Critical Theory)
Open AccessArticle The French Participation in the Korean War and the Establishment of a “Path of Memory” in South Korea
Societies 2013, 3(4), 427-444; doi:10.3390/soc3040427
Received: 14 August 2013 / Revised: 9 October 2013 / Accepted: 9 October 2013 / Published: 5 November 2013
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Abstract
The contribution to the Korean War of medium powers or declining great powers like France has been scarcely investigated in-depth despite France’s marked contribution to the conflict, both diplomatically and militarily. Though its contribution modest by way of the number of troops sent
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The contribution to the Korean War of medium powers or declining great powers like France has been scarcely investigated in-depth despite France’s marked contribution to the conflict, both diplomatically and militarily. Though its contribution modest by way of the number of troops sent to Korea and discreet on the diplomatic field, the French part in the war was significant, because it demonstrated the solidarity of the Allied powers united in the newly-established NATO. Moreover, the French battalions sent to Korea fought with gallantry and gained many medals, including silver stars. From the beginning of the 2000s, this overlooked history began to be noticed with the building of a “Path of the Living Memory of the French Contribution to the Korean War”. It was intended to inform visitors about a part of history, to transmit memory, and to strengthen friendship between France and Korea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue War/Wars and Society)
Open AccessArticle Charging Neutral Cues with Aggressive Meaning through Violent Video Game Play
Societies 2013, 3(4), 445-456; doi:10.3390/soc3040445
Received: 13 September 2013 / Revised: 30 October 2013 / Accepted: 4 November 2013 / Published: 12 November 2013
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Abstract
When playing violent video games, aggressive actions are performed against the background of an originally neutral environment, and associations are formed between cues related to violence and contextual features. This experiment examined the hypothesis that neutral contextual features of a virtual environment become
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When playing violent video games, aggressive actions are performed against the background of an originally neutral environment, and associations are formed between cues related to violence and contextual features. This experiment examined the hypothesis that neutral contextual features of a virtual environment become associated with aggressive meaning and acquire the function of primes for aggressive cognitions. Seventy-six participants were assigned to one of two violent video game conditions that varied in context (ship vs. city environment) or a control condition. Afterwards, they completed a Lexical Decision Task to measure the accessibility of aggressive cognitions in which they were primed either with ship-related or city-related words. As predicted, participants who had played the violent game in the ship environment had shorter reaction times for aggressive words following the ship primes than the city primes, whereas participants in the city condition responded faster to the aggressive words following the city primes compared to the ship primes. No parallel effect was observed for the non-aggressive targets. The findings indicate that the associations between violent and neutral cognitions learned during violent game play facilitate the accessibility of aggressive cognitions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Understanding Media Violence Effects)
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Open AccessArticle The Death and Life of Walter Benjamin
Societies 2013, 3(4), 457-463; doi:10.3390/soc3040457
Received: 13 September 2013 / Revised: 4 November 2013 / Accepted: 7 November 2013 / Published: 12 November 2013
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Abstract
What if Walter Benjamin actually made it to New York as he was escaping the Nazis, settling there for the rest of his long life? What if he was working on a sequel to his Arcades Project, translating his ideas about Paris,
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What if Walter Benjamin actually made it to New York as he was escaping the Nazis, settling there for the rest of his long life? What if he was working on a sequel to his Arcades Project, translating his ideas about Paris, capital of the nineteenth century, to his new city and own epoch? And what if I inadvertently discovered the manuscript of this so-called Manhattan Project, and decided to write a study dedicated to the unearthed text? This paper offers a few reflections on, and quotations from, the book that I am currently, truly working on, which is an analysis of a phantom of a book, inspired by a real collection of reflections and quotations that were made in preparation for another book that was also never written. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ghost-towns: Cityscapes, Memories and Critical Theory)
Open AccessArticle At the Stage of Their Fate: Salvaging the Urban Obsolete in Sydney
Societies 2013, 3(4), 464-481; doi:10.3390/soc3040464
Received: 22 September 2013 / Revised: 13 November 2013 / Accepted: 15 November 2013 / Published: 26 November 2013
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Abstract
Chronicling the interiors and exteriors of selected abandoned buildings in Sydney, this article examines the problem of memory in spaces that are not only isolated and devalued, but often have played no role in the life of the casual visitor or observer. How
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Chronicling the interiors and exteriors of selected abandoned buildings in Sydney, this article examines the problem of memory in spaces that are not only isolated and devalued, but often have played no role in the life of the casual visitor or observer. How can the ruins of someone else’s past be made to speak, and how might contemporary ruinscapes reveal a different way of engaging with the past in urban space, particularly in one of the “youngest” cities in the world: a city not defined by decline; constantly undergoing redevelopment; and known more for contemporary architecture than contemporary ruin? Through describing personal encounters with each site, this paper adopts the attitude of Benjamin’s collector who encounters old books in a way that does not consider their use-value but instead sees them as fated objects, encountered as ephemeral remnants of the past. Like the salvaged but outmoded book, the modern ruin is just as much a site in which history is played out as any house of parliament or mainstream newsroom. Further, history need not be the dominion of those things and people that speak loudly and clearly—it is equally constituted by boundless, amorphous, liminal, discarded, rejected, silent things—in this case, ruined buildings of a recent, remembered and accessible past. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ghost-towns: Cityscapes, Memories and Critical Theory)
Open AccessArticle Becoming Monument, Activating Windsor
Societies 2013, 3(4), 482-490; doi:10.3390/soc3040482
Received: 22 October 2013 / Revised: 18 November 2013 / Accepted: 18 November 2013 / Published: 27 November 2013
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Abstract
What does it mean to live in a dying place? This auto-critical article asks this question in the context of the Windsor/Detroit region, one of the most economically depressed zones in North America. Using the work of Barthes, Benjamin, and Taussig, I ruminate
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What does it mean to live in a dying place? This auto-critical article asks this question in the context of the Windsor/Detroit region, one of the most economically depressed zones in North America. Using the work of Barthes, Benjamin, and Taussig, I ruminate on the psycho-somatic experiences of trying to navigate a world that most writers have already dismissed as haunted and abandoned. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ghost-towns: Cityscapes, Memories and Critical Theory)
Open AccessArticle Catharsis and Media Violence: A Conceptual Analysis
Societies 2013, 3(4), 491-510; doi:10.3390/soc3040491
Received: 13 September 2013 / Revised: 3 November 2013 / Accepted: 6 December 2013 / Published: 13 December 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (191 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The concept that doing something to “vent” aggression as a method of reducing aggressive feelings and behaviors, such as watching media violence or playing violent video games, continues to enjoy widespread public support despite a lack of empirical support. This article describes the
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The concept that doing something to “vent” aggression as a method of reducing aggressive feelings and behaviors, such as watching media violence or playing violent video games, continues to enjoy widespread public support despite a lack of empirical support. This article describes the historical origins of the concept and examines how well these conceptions fit with the modern usage of the aggression catharsis hypothesis. It is argued that there are four primary flaws with the catharsis hypothesis. First, the metaphor underlying Freud, Breuer, and Lorenz’s conception of aggression is flawed. Aggression is not a drive. Second, although Aristotle did use the term catharsis with relation to violent media (plays and poetry), he did not mean that viewing media violence can purge the viewer of aggressive feelings or behaviors. Furthermore, he describes several detailed requirements of plot and character that must be followed if his type of catharsis is to be achieved, and modern media violence does not meet these requirements. Third, the empirical support is not only lacking, a large empirical base contradicts the catharsis hypothesis. This is seen both in studies attempting to demonstrate catharsis directly and in the broader media violence literature. Fourth, human neuroscience contradicts the catharsis hypothesis. Learning is not hindered by viewing something one more time—it is improved. Taken together, it appears that there is no possible way that the aggression catharsis hypothesis can be accurate. It nevertheless continues to “feel” correct at a phenomenological level, and the reasons for this are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Understanding Media Violence Effects)

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