The Coolness of Capitalism Today

  • Jim McGuigan Loughborough University


This paper is about the reconciliation of cultural analysis with political economy in Marxist-inspired research on communications. It traces how these two traditions became separated with the development of a one-dimensional and consumerist cultural studies, on the one-hand, and a more classically Marxist political economy of communications, on the other hand, that was accused of holding a simplistic and erroneous concept of ideology. The paper defends a conception of ideology as distorted communication motivated by unequal power relations and sketches a multidimensional mode of cultural analysis that takes account of the moments of production, consumption and textual meaning in the circulation of communications and culture. In accordance with this framework of analysis, the cool-capitalism thesis is outlined and illustrated with reference to Apple, the ‘cool’ corporation. And, the all-purpose mobile communication device is selected as a key and urgent focus of attention for research on commodity fetishism and labour exploitation on a global scale today.

Author Biography

Jim McGuigan, Loughborough University

Jim McGuigan is Professor of Cultural Analysis in the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University, UK. His most recent books are Cool Capitalism (Pluto, 2009) and Cultural Analysis (Sage, 2010).

Marx is Back-The Importance of Marxist Theory and Research for Critical Comm. Studies Today, ed C. Fuchs & Vincent Mosco