Commons, Daniel William (2021) Coercion and Consent: The Mediation of Ideology in Photographic Practices. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The apparatus of photography has become incredibly prevalent since its original inception nearly two hundred years ago, undergoing many developments and incarnations whilst being utilised for many functions. Similarly, ideology, arising and developing from the same episteme as the inception of photography historically defined as modernism. Ideology has undergone its own advancements as a concept, considered in various ways to understand, frame, and legitimise an array of stances in political and moral economy, as well as a method of understanding social relations and power.

The following thesis traces the intersection of these two modes of signifying reality, through both their respective early histories and arriving at an analysis of their intersection within contemporary culture. Through the textual analysis of a range of political, philosophical, and critical theories, the thesis identifies key lines off enquiry where photography and ideology meet, particularly through the ideological theory of hegemony and two proposed dynamics crucial to the dominance of a group in power or attempting to attain it - coercion and consent.

Particularly noteworthy, in relation to the idea of hegemony, is the Gramscian notion of ideology as being facilitated by the formation of ‘common sense’. The thesis proposes that current mass practices of social photography as being a type of common sense is in its role as a means of signification, knowledge production and reproduction.

The final chapter of the thesis, with the aid of critical discourse analysis, surveys how a group in power, namely the recent Trump administration, uses imagery and rhetoric as part of ideological strategies to shape perceptions of reality via the use of the media spectacle. The thesis concludes with the position that photography, as a means of representation and signification is an effective tool in the dissemination of ideology. This tool is not only available to those in power but also those fulfilling emancipatory goals, and that research into the relationship should be ongoing as the world enters a precarious future.

Commons THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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