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The Society of the Spectacle

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  15,224 ratings  ·  547 reviews

Few works of political and cultural theory have been as enduringly provocative as Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle. From its publication amid the social upheavals of the 1960s up to the present, the volatile theses of this book have decisively transformed debates on the shape of modernity, capitalism and everyday life in the late twentieth century. Now finally ava

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Paperback, 160 pages
Published 1995 by Zone Books (first published 1967)
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Benoit Lelièvre
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Re-read this bad boy for research purposes. The spectacle is a concept that's very swanky to talk about in dinner parties like George Orwell's 1984, but it is often simplified and, ironically enough, objectified by its debaters. Everybody acknowledge we live in the society of spectacle, but either don't believe its rules apply to them or adopt a defeatist attitude towards it.

What is the spectacle, then? Debord has a great way of summarizing it: the colonization of human life by commodities. It's
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Szplug
Jan 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never went to university—nor did the majority of my friends—and so never received any manner of guidance or instruction, or even bar table theoretical bullshitting, at the academic level to go along with my burgeoning interest in philosophy, politics, and culture. For better and for worse (and mostly the latter) I have carved my own path through the tangled thickets of critical genius and doctrinal snares, a haphazard sampling of great minds from across the ages, non-systematic and initially s ...more
Clif
Apr 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: philosophy
I gave this Guy a chance.

In any expository writing, particularly when persuasion is the goal, the writing should be as clear as possible to reach the widest audience.

This essay is laid out in numbered statements. Some are only a sentence long, others may run a page or two, but all are written in a style that tells me the author is more concerned with his style than the content. Perhaps this is the thing to do in intellectual circles, where stylish profundity that requires effort to decode is val
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Chris_P
*The Society of the Spectacle
Review in English below.*


Δεν ξέρω κατά πόσο ευθύνεται η μετάφραση του Μπαμπασάκη για την δυσκολία που παρουσιάζει το κείμενο του Debord, αλλά πρόκειται για ένα πολύ απαιτητικό ανάγνωσμα που για να το κατανοήσει κανείς, χρειάζεται απόλυτη συγκέντρωση και αφοσίωση. Πίσω όμως από την εξεζητημένη γραφή, βρίσκεται ένα ευαγγέλιο που γράφτηκε το '67 και ενέπνευσε τον γαλλικό Μάη του '68. Ένα έργο που, όσο περνούν τα χρόνια, μοιάζει να γίνεται όλο και πιο επίκαιρο. Το ερώτημ
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Ryn Shane-Armstrong
I read Society of the Spectacle way back in college -- when one is young and naive, and you're supposed to care about heady, outdated French philosophy that is utterly disconnected from the real. But now that I'm older and I have a world of experience to draw from, I'm fairly certain it wouldn't resonate as it once did. To wit, the so-called "radical" situationist ethic is now a totally mainstream, mass media commodity in and of itself. Beijing hosts pillow fight flash mobs in Tian'anmen square, ...more
kelli anderson
Dec 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is very difficult to read for several reasons:

• It is a very direct translation from the original French text.
• The Situations had developed their own vocabulary to describe what were then new and unidentified sociological phenomena (we now have a different lexicon to describe this more widely acknowledged phenomena today.)
• Debord, in this book, practices what he preached with the Situationists in his use of detournment (the reuse of elements of well-known media to create a new work w
...more
Tosh
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who think this election will make the big difference
Shelves: books-bought
It only took 154 pages to change our world. Guy Debord's manifesto/book length essay that is truly a masterpiece of political writing that borders on the poetic. It is also a crystal clear view how culture is formed in the 20th (and of course the 21st) century.

The theater is built in front us and we are lead to believe that we actually participate in its adventure. As Johnny Rotten said at the last Sex Pistols concert in the late 70's "Have you ever felt the feeling that you have been had?" Wel
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Fede
Spectacle is the image society creates in order to contemplate itself and legitimate its existence. When the abstraction is made real by the dissolution of reality, what we have is a Society of the Spectacle, where images are no longer the product but the producer of their own market.
In this beautifully written essay, poetic and conceptually rigorous at a time, French theorist Guy Debord demonstrates how and why economy has autonomously generated a dimension parallel to reality (the Spectacle)
...more
Pat
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francia, non-fiction
Zitti tutti, va in scena il Potere!

Non c'è dialogo. Non c'è scelta. Gli individui sono testimoni passivi, ammirano le immagini, scelte dal potere, che sostituiscono la realtà. Il pubblico guarda, non agisce e non reagisce. Reale e virtuale si confondono, perdono identità. Si assiste così alla “rimozione di ogni verità vissuta sotto la presenza reale della falsità assicurata dall'organizzazione dell'apparenza”. È vero ciò che il potere mostra. Il resto è impostura. Il reale perde consistenza, è a
...more
Stefania
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ένα βιβλίο-φως!
Hugh
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important and scathing critiques of a pervasive culture of consumption, a disintegrated language and a unified series of isolated unseeing workers. I totally get why this dude killed himself.
Nikos Tsentemeidis
Δεν διαβάζεται με τίποτα.
Miquixote
THE book about how the technological spectacle consumes us and gives us A.D.D. Excellent to accompany Manufacturing Consent and its analysis of information control?

The thing is Chomsky wouldn't recommend it.

Many of us are well-aware of Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman and the Propaganda Model presented in Manufacturing Consent, of how the media is pure propaganda. But the idea of 'spectacle' being something part of our daily lives, not just in the media, of our consumer society as one of consumin
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jeremy
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
9. in a world that really has been turned on its head, truth is a moment of falsehood.

20. ...the absolute denial of life, in the shape of a fallacious paradise, is no longer projected onto the heavens, but finds its place instead within material life itself. the spectacle is hence a technological version of the exiling of human powers in a "world beyond" - and the perfection of separation within human beings.

67. ...a use of the commodity arises that is sufficient unto itself; what this means for
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Feliks
A strange work of social criticism. The cover is deceptive--this is not a book about mass media or audience behaviors. It is more like a history of socialist ideas; the author spends most of his time in this little volume analyzing subtle strands of Marxist thought. The format is also odd--the author writes in a 'diary' style, like a Wittgenstein or a Lichtenburg. It is not a continuous narrative, but rather a collection of tiny notes organized around the theme of consumerism and consciousness. ...more
Uroš Đurković
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Znate kako, meni ovde sve štima.
Samo ne ono van granica teksta. Čuveno – a šta sad?

Jasno je da smo u društvu spektakla. Jasno je i kako ono funkcioniše. Takođe je jasno da nema bega od njega. Čemu onda teorija?

Meni je teorija kao kada igraš Ne-ljuti-se-čoveče i čekaš da dobiješ šesticu. Tek tada ulaziš u igricu. A kakav će tok igre biti, to niko ne zna. Možda te pojedu, pa opet bacaš kockicu. I tako više puta.

Ali bez kockice nema ni igre. Bez igre nema ni šanse za tok. A bez šanse za tok oseća
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Simon
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Just as Fight Club can be described as Twilight for boys, Society of the Spectacle can be described as Fight Club for young adults who have renounced their membership of Anonymous in order to focus on their careers as Social Justice Warriors.

Interesting for the historical context, but nothing more really. A redundant midway point between Marx and Baudrillard, in which the former's ideas are obfuscated for the purposes of pretension. Though I imagine translation is partly to blame for that. Its
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Eadweard
42
The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life. Not only is the relation to the commodity visible but it is all one sees: the world one sees is its world. Modern economic production extends its dictatorship extensively and intensively. In the least industrialized places, its reign is already attested by a few star commodities and by the imperialist domination imposed by regions which are ahead in the development of productivity. In the advanced
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Greg
In theory I love this book, in it's actual form with words and a seeming intentional difficulty (ya know to avoid being co-opted by the spectacle of the totality of consumerist society) I'm only lukewarm about it. Give me Adorno any day over this.
Emma Sea
Eerily prescient, and still a brilliant read about the alienation of labor, the advertisement of time, and the banalization of space.
Patrick
Nov 09, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Do not follow my example
We're all duped by the illusions produced by contemporary consumer society. But fear not: simply utilize your free time creatively and grant autonomous political and economic powers to self-governed workers' councils within every vestige of society and all will be well. Best quote: "Plagiarism is necessary. Progress demands it." (p. 145)
George-Icaros Babassakis
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: guy-debord
Ὅ,τι πιὸ ἔγκυρο ἔντονο εὐφυὲς γιὰ νὰ κατανοήσει κανεὶς σὲ τί κόσμο ζοῦμε τὰ τελευταῖα 50 χρόνια.
Armando Bravo salcido
Pese a todo, la elaboración principal del libro concierne más que directamente al concepto de espectáculo, a una elaboración post-marxista (situacionista en específico) de la forma de acumulación del capital y de las condiciones de reproductibilidad de esta acumulación pertenecientes a las sociedades del siglo XX. Por esto Debord hace referencia en otro lado (Comentarios a las sociedad...) a un "numero de investigaciones" que tomando categorías distintas han llegado a conclusiones equiparables y ...more
Steven
Can't imagine what put me on this book now except some weird venn-diagramish intersection of things I was reading about Trump, Suburbia, and Reality-TV, plus it was right there on one of my bookshelves with its seductive title. It's abstract and abstruse, full of dialectical jujitsu and Situationist private language, which makes it a difficult read. And it is oh so circular in its argumentation. Still, some nice turns of phrase, especially in the 50 or so statements about what the Spectacle is: ...more
Malcolm
It's quite short (at only 150 or so pages) but it ain't snappy - Debord manages to excoriate ideology, alienation, much of the Old Left, almost all of the New Left and provide us with a circuitous and at times dense analysis of the emerging consumer society of the late 20th century. I keep coming back to it, and I keep finding turns of phrase and pieces of an argument that make me revisit and revise my political sense of the world around me. A deserved classic.
Elisabeth
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Bright sunny styles starting at $8 are spectacle. Tanning beds and stairmasters are spectacle. Sonny and Cher are spectacle. Sonny as mayor is spectacle. Any mayor “cleaning up” Times Square and polishing it with corporate spit is spectacle. Little New York in Las Vegas is spectacle. Little New York in Vegas in Dubai is spectacle. Little New York in Vegas in Dubai inside Tokyo Disney in a feature-film starring a topless Nicolas Cage saving the natives with guns in a Gatorade jihad is spectacle. ...more
Amélie Lapointe
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Devrait être une lecture obligatoire.
Walter Schutjens
I have long wanted to read about the Situationist movement, after having read some radical socialist texts and some radical postmodern texts... what better synthesis is there to be found? "Society of the Spectacle" is a philosophical work that describes the working of the "spectacle" as a product of modern consumerism that exists in social interaction through means of pseudo -representation (if that doesn't mean anything to you, dont worry it didn't to me either at first). In essence, everything ...more
Lee Foust
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My reading and studies in philosophy aren't really in-depth enough, I don't think, for me to say anything particularly enlightening about Debord's most famous little book here. What I think I've understood from it is fascinating and I think still quite relevant--if not even more so than at the time of the book's composition. I think that the spectacle is still growing in its reification of social life, if perhaps a tad more interactive in the age of the web--or at least I hope that's the case.

I'
...more
Xavier
Feb 01, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a definitely a thought provoking book. I think if you work in the media or are an artist it can be relevant, but also a little scary. I would put it up there with Ways of Seeing by John Berger.
roozbeh
Feb 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
nietzchean-marxian critique of capitalism.
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Apr 19, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like radical French philosophy than this book is for you. Guy Debord inspired such modern works as No Logo and Canada's Adbusters. An interesting read about getting out and celebrating life, and getting others to snap out of their zombie like daze.
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May 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adolescence
Can't leave this one out given the patriarchal thrall I was in when it came into our home and began experimenting with possibility, notion of reality, limit, consensus, delusion (willful), illusion (sucker), class consciousness/warfare; power, sexuality in act-ion, consumer-fraud, role-playing, acting, desire-in-action, de and re construction of taken for granted sets (like supermarkets, theaters). Assumption of power in scenes of confusion (nearly all of them) And so on.

Excellent fun, excellent
...more
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Rok Pregelj
May 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
To me, the best criticism of modern day society written in '67 and is important today, more than ever!
Quite hard to read, but well rewarding.
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Guy Ernest Debord was a French Marxist theorist, writer, filmmaker, hypergraphist and founding member of the groups Lettrist International and Situationist International. In broad terms, Debord's theories attempted to account for the spiritually debilitating modernization of the private and public spheres of everyday life by economic forces during the post-WWII modernization of Europe. Alienation, ...more

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