Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Mass Communication and Media Arts
This dissertation seeks to identify the purposive force that determines the form and function of commercial stereophony in capitalist society, and the ways in which this force affects the productive and consumptive activities of stereophonic practitioners and listening audiences. Employing dialectical materialism, I examine three social processes that either historically established or continue to influence the mediative potential of stereophonic sound: the invention and industrial standardization of the stereophonic apparatus, the professionalization of stereophonic practitioners, and the social construction of stereophonic listeners as a mass consuming audience. These interrelated studies reveal perceived economic necessity as the dominant causal force that governs all stereophonic processes and practices under the capitalist economic system. Informed by my chapter findings, which complicate Karl Marx’s materialist base and superstructure schema – a coarse conceptual abstraction of capitalist production, I construct a more refined and flexible schematic diagram that offers a distinctive bird’s eye view of the universal interplay between capitalists, producers and consumers. This novel conceptual schematic depicts productive forces and productive relations as coterminous expressions of the dual-purpose of capitalism: to produce surplus-value for accumulation by capitalists, and to do so in perpetuity.
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