Understanding Economic Problems via Cultural Jamming

                                                                                        Culture Jamming

The crucial and vital problem in the world is “capitalism” correspondingly “consumerism”. When we walk on the street or travel by car, bus, train etc. we see plenty of advertisements on everywhere that prey on us as directed. Entertainment, shopping and other consumer activities are became people’s top free time preferences thanks to gigantic helps of advertisements. As people in global societies increasingly enjoy the freedoms of private life therefore we isolate ourselves from public life.

That’s why the term “cultural jamming” is came up. Culture jamming is a form of alternative media. It is the react of using mass media such as billboards, bus-ads, posters and so on. In my opinion we can say it is the way of criticizing and subverting advertising and consumerism in the mass media and rework on them in order to create conscious citizens in terms of environment, social values and political issues.

Cultural jammers ‘create with mirrors’ (Berry 1995) and are related to what Gramsci (1971: 417) called a ‘new way of conceiving the world’ and ‘modifying . . . popular thought and mummified popular culture’.

The most well known type of culture jamming is subvertising. The most remarkable and known example of culture jamming is probably, Adbusters, (www.adbusters.org), a magazine featuring subvertisements of famous brands.
To give an example I think the most effective example is Greenpeace using culture jamming as a tactic. In 1989 they projected the message “ We have nuclear weapons on board” onto British aircraft, carrier, moored in Hamburg Harbour.    You can see picture below ( https://informationactivism.org/en/what-culture-jamming).

The basic unit of communication in culture jamming is the meme: the core unit of cultural transmission. I want to give an example of their campains where you can find it on Adbusters magazine web page called “Kick It Over”  and “Buy Nothing Today” (http://kickitover.org), / https://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd).

Kick It Over project aim is to raise awareness of students about capitalism and its outcomes and also effects on our lifes. Their project “Meme Wars On Campus” address to students: “You are entering university at a critical juncture. Capitalism is in crisis and the crisis is growing deeper”. They pose some questions to students to understanding economic games such as “ How did economists get it so wrong?”, What good are economists anyway?” etc. They have some posters on the web page and suggest ” Print out your favorite posters from this website and post them in the corridors of your economics department … pin them up all over campus and on prof’s doors! Do this until a debate breaks out, one that shakes the foundations of neoclassical economic science”. We can say it is an awareness-raising campaign. You can see the protest pictures below.

 The other project is “Buy Nothing Today”  also stand out shopping necessity that is arised by capitalism. They create shopping habits for special days such as Christmas.  You can see below there are some posters to points out shopping traps.

Additionally there is a documentary about culture jamming. It remarkably explains how we are exposed to advertising. And also its excessive impact on our life.

In conclusion the exposure of advertisements is affecting our culture.  Our habits, life style and preferences are shaped by capitalist system. Culture jamming and meme-driven communication offer interesting windows to remember what real living is all about.



Culture Jamming…What is it?




VC501 – Disseration Preperation: Culture Jamming

Bailey, O. G., Cammaerts, B. and Carpentier, N. (2008) Understanding Alternative Media.