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UBC Theses and Dissertations

(Disciplinary) power and the branded (social) body Desoto, Ashleigh


The initial question in this project asks why people might brand their bodies with corporate logos, and more than that, why and how brands have become so preeminent in our cultural firmament; the central questions in this project interrogate the concepts of power, resistance, the individual body, and the political body. I propose that the qualities of power and bodies (individual and social) necessarily generate duality of form and function that allows for both docility and resistance, in addition to many spaces in between. I utilize the theories of discipline, resistance, and the body that Michel Foucault sets forth in his text Discipline and Punish, as well as Theodor Adorno's and Max Horkheimer's ideas about capitalist culture that are passionately elaborated in their essay entitled "The Culture Industry" to create a theoretical framework that connects disciplinary power, the body, and capitalism. Finally, I analyze branding as a case study to explore these concepts in material/symbolic context. Branding is a powerful process that employs the tools of disciplinary mechanics to encourage the consumption of brand images. However, since the branding process depends upon the body (meaning the individual and the social) to communicate its messages, branding is also consistently resisted using the same transmission routes that promote it. This case study confirms the multi-directional possibilities of power relations.

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