WP86 Culture as accent.

Blommaert & Varis
Collection: Key word


In consumer culture, culture increasingly appears as an ?accent?, an inflection of standard codes and norms.? The increased speed and intensity that characterizes the present economy of cultural forms and that finds its expressions in the widespread use of online social media makes this more visible as an object of reflection. It also turns our attention towards superdiversity as an area in which processes of cultural production and reproduction may acquire new ? or at least visible ? features, demanding new productive reflection and analysis.? This paper provides a rough outline of the two forces defining this pattern of culture-as-accent: a strong tendency towards uniformity and homogeneity on the one hand, and the inflation of details as metonymic marks of the total person on the other. Both forces co-occur in a dialectic in which the very forces of homogenization are always ?footnoted?, so to speak, by strong and outspoken tendencies towards inflating and overvaluing details. In fact, much of contemporary cultural life can perhaps best be described as ?uniformity-with-a-minor-difference?, and consumer capitalism plays into both apparently contradictory forces. The clearest examples of these patterns can thus be found in advertisements, and most of the illustrations we shall use in this paper are taken from that domain.