In 1994's Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Hyperspace, Douglas Rushkoff extolled the democratic promise of the then-emergent Internet, but the once optimistic author has grown a bit disillusioned with what the Net--and the rest of the world--has become. His exuberantly written, disturbing Coercion may induce paranoia in readers as it illuminates the countless ways marketing has insinuated itself not just into every aspect of Western culture but into our individual lives. Rushkoff opens with a series of pronouncements: "They say human beings use only ten percent of their brains.... They say Prozac alleviates depression." But "who, exactly, are 'they,'" he asks, and "why do we listen to them?"
Marketing continues to grow more aggressive, and Rushkoff tracks the increasingly coercive techniques it employs to ingrain its message in the minds of consumers, as well as the results: toddlers can recognize the golden arches of McDonald's, young rebels get tattooed with the Nike swoosh, and news stories are increasingly taken verbatim from company press releases. "Corporations and consumers are in a coercive arms race," argues Rushkoff. "Every effort we make to regain authority over our actions is met by an even greater effort to usurp it." As he surveys the visual, aural, and scented shopping environment and interviews salesmen, public relations men, telemarketers, admen, and consumers, Rushkoff--who admits to being one of "them" in his occasional capacity as paid corporate consultant--concludes that "they" are just "us" and that the only way the process of coercion can be reversed is to refuse to comply. "Without us," he assures, "they don't exist." --Kera Bolonik --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Until recently a cyber-optimist who, in popular books like Cyberia and Media Virus, augured a digital revolution, Rushkoff now warns that the promise of the Net as an open-ended civic forum is fading as relentless corporate marketers peddle their wares and capitalize on shortened attention spans. In a scathing critique that extends far beyond cyberspace in scope, Rushkoff identifies the subtle forms of coercion used by advertisers, public relations experts, politicians, religious leaders and customer service reps, among others. Retreading territory covered by critic Neil Postman and others, Rushkoff provides additional examples of how the ordinary person is often unsuspectingly manipulated, whether in the shopping mall, at a sports event or in a Muzak-drenched store or office. This analysis is particularly strong when deconstructing the "postmodern" techniques of persuasion that advertisers use to reach increasingly cynical target audiences, including commercials that self-consciously mock the marketing process. Rushkoff also argues that mass spectacles (e.g., rock festivals, Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March, Promise Keepers rallies) foster "tribal loyalty" but are often contrived, commercial or downright destructive. He devotes a chapter to pyramid schemes used by cults, infomercials, Internet con artists and get-rich-quick marketers. His freewheeling survey underscores the social cost of these coercive strategies, which, he says, tend to make us see one another as marks. Despite his up-to-the-minute examples, however, his overall analysis is not fresh or original enough to take the place of Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
i first read this book last year and it blew my mind. since then i have read alot of political authors including but not limited to noam chomsky, morris berman, howard zinn, al... Read morePublished on March 16 2004 by Dr. Putnam
This book is a little long which, for me, translates to it having missed the mark. Although I've a long standing belief that people are coerced into acting, buying and believing a... Read morePublished on April 21 2003 by Bill Oterson
Douglass Rushkoff , to put it simply, here tells us about the psychology of a purchase, whether we are sold on a product, service, idiology, or way of life. Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2002 by "socrates_eight"
This is an enlightening read--a broad overview of subtle coercion and a definitive explanation of the ubiquitous "they" who have so much influence over most of us. Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2002 by ApparentNewParent
This is a very interesting book written by a very accessible author. The book deconstructs the various methods of control that big business exerts over consumers. Read morePublished on April 20 2002 by steve h
A charismatic Brit and his entourage of overeducated dropouts take over a piano factory in Oakland, intending to squat there and throw the most massive raves the Bay Area has ever... Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2002
In the early 90's Douglas Rushkoff wrote a book titled "Media Virus." It described how the Internet Age would render marketing usless. Read morePublished on Feb. 2 2002 by Mark Wieczorek
Douglas Rushkoff, a man best described as a cross between Marshall McLuhan and Malcolm McLaren, here presents a brilliant expose of the all-pervasive coercion in modern Western... Read morePublished on Nov. 29 2001 by Timothy Walker