FUNCTIONS AND CLAIMS OF UTOPIA
|This is a comparative table of the social functions of media, utopia, history, and art, compiled from several authors, listed below. 'Functionalism' is often rejected in the social sciences, a rejection which may be politically motivated. The table of uses gives an indication, at least, of the political claims of utopia. For a comparison, see the listed claims of nationalism. Compiled 1999.|
|Uses of media||Uses of utopia||No.||Uses of history||Uses of art|
|Escape||Escape from an unpleasant reality, quest for the Holy Grail or paradise||1||...||Escapist, utopian|
|Societal mobilization, co-ordination, consensus||Blueprint for a better society, promotion of British imperialism||2||...||...|
|Comment||A better society which later might exist - speculation, antennae sensitive to the future, vision of the ending of hunger. Age-old needs of man laid bare||3||...||...|
|Signpost, mirror||A rational construction for moral instruction, rationalist discourse about ideal city||4||...||Role-models, goal-defining, esthethic norms|
|Entertainment||Scholarly fable (elite amusement)||5||Aesthetic improvment of the past||Promoting confidence, pride sense of purpose|
|Explaining and interpreting||Reflection of specific crises it presumes to resolve, alignment with one side in social conflict||6||...||Enactment of defiance, legitimizing violence, crystallizing identity using a work to take a stand|
|Comment, social amnesia||A reconstruction of past ideal societies||7||Cleaning up the past, concealing discord, retrospective success||...|
|Commonality of values|
integration, continuity, reducing social tension
|Idealisation of existing society, social self-adulation, mending schisms in Christian world||8||Nationalism, reinforce identity, alter position of ethnic groups||Strengthens social cohesion, heightening sense of solidarity, self-confidence, pride, purpose, shared pride in the creativity of the culture,legitimizing|
|Social amnesia||...||9||...||Fulfillment of erotic wishes, vicarious experience of victory, fulfillment of ego-drives|
|Screen or barrier
|Security through knowledge, comforting myths||Coping with anxieties/potentialities of post-industrial societies||11||Solace in insecurity||Counteracting anxieties|
|Support for authority, norms||...||12||Political stabilisation by construction of history||Identity through identification with an artist or fictional character|
|Providing information, platform, carrier, window||...||13||Mass product, repetition||...|
|Nostalgia||Idealized descriptions of historical societies||15||Content for the media||Heightening sense of solidarity, self-confidence, pride, purpose, commemoration|
|...|| Apocalyptic/millenarian view
Society constructed as an opposite as a form of social criticism
|16||...||Contesting, challenging the status quo, helping to propagate and consolidate a counter-culture|
McQuail D. Mass Communication Theory: An Introduction London 1987 (reality deviation, 196; mediation, 52-53; functions, 71-73)
Ames, Russell CitizenThomas More and his utopia Princeton NJ 1959, 5
Armytage W. H.Yesterday's tomorrows : a historical survey of future societies. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968, 13.
Manuel, F & Manuel, F Utopian thought in the Western world Cambridge Mass. 1979, 21-25, 803-808.
Lowenthal, D The past is a foreign country Cambridge 1985, 331-358
Schörken, Rolf Geschichte in der Alltagswelt: wie uns Geschichte begegnet und was wir mit ihr machen Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1981, 159-163.
Raskin, Richard The functional analysis of art Arhus 1983: "Le chant des partisans" 168-187, overview 90-91.