The concept of spectacle, conceived as “not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images” (Debord 1994, Thesis 2), was popularized (and politicized) through Guy Debord's work and the publication of his book, Society of the Spectacle. Debord's theory of spectacle challenges Marxism to go beyond a focus on production to the ways in which people become disconnected objects that are identified through commodified images of self and others.

Debord was not the first to describe the politics of spectacle. Mikhail Bakhtin developed the notion of carnivalseque as a spectacle of temporary disruption of the social order. But unlike Debord, he saw that spectacle could create room for social change. Associates of the famed Frankfurt school, such as Walter Benjamin and ...

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