chapter  3
25 Pages


This paradigm shift described by an industrial designer is but one manifestation of a more general trend within managerial practice. Virtually all of the discursive practices that, in an advanced economy mediate the encounter between labour and capital – management, marketing, public relations, ergonomics, design, advertising , and so on – have experienced a similar shift. Until the 1960s, these were practices that worked against the productivity of the social: Taylorist management sought to discipline an unruly labour force into adopting certain pre-programmed forms of behaviour; Public Relations was about propagating a certain corporate ideology against public adversity to big business; marketing sought to make consumers behave and desire in a certain way; and design was about imposing more beautiful or rational objects on the recalcitrant masses. Today, in almost every case, it is the other way around. Management now emphasizes The Human Side of Enterprise (to use the title of Douglas McGregor’s revolutionary 1960 pamphlet); the goal is to work

with the freedom of the employee, aligning his or her self-realization with the interests of the organization (Rose, 1999). Public Relations is less about imposing a certain vision or perspective than about moving with the public perception of the company, politician or a product, and putting a series of communicative processes to work by means of strategic tools like spinning, impression management and viral marketing, in order to organize the production of desirable forms of truth and opinion. Marketing, as this and the next two chapters will show, has developed from an overall attempt to impose what Jean Baudrillard (1970) called a ‘code of value’, to finding ways of working with consumers so that what they say or do can generate value. There has been an overall shift in the ways in which capital relates to (advanced forms of) labour.