Authored by: Anthony Killick

The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Politics

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415717397
eBook ISBN: 9781315678863
Adobe ISBN: 9781317392460


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The flippancy with which terms like “activism”, “social change” and “human rights” are espoused and equated, in scholarship and activist circles, may lead us to believe that they are interchangeable and self-justifying. In fact, such terms are empty signifiers. They can only be qualified by the end/s to which they attach themselves. Even those activists working towards something as specific as “long-term social change” need to recognise that this is also the goal of neo-liberalism and its harbingers. Indeed, that the vacuity of such terms leaves them open to appropriation by the incentives of capital is well evidenced in our contemporary age of ‘lifestyle activism’ and ‘social entrepreneurship’. As Harvey notes, “we live in a world, after all, where the rights of private property and the profit rate trump all other notions of rights one can think of” (2012: 3).

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