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The Propaganda of Progress: The Case of Swedish Housing Exhibitions
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this research is to analyse what progress is made of in terms of meanings in order to confirm and explain its presence as representational principle of change. The material used for the research consists of texts produced in relation to four housing exhibitions, which together cover a 70-years period. These events, which common purpose is to exhibit progress, offer a unique opportunity to understand the particularities of such a process and the rules that governs it.

The empirical case, which relies on a theoretical approach of progress and modernity, reveals that progress is represented through choices and hierarchies revolving around a delimited series of issues addressed by all four housing exhibitions. The analysis of these choices and hierarchies shows nevertheless that if the way progress is represented clearly differs from one exhibition to the other, it is not the case of the assumptions that structure these different representations. For example, each exhibition offers their specific representations of the relation that exists between time and change, but all four events share the assumption that progress is to come.

It is from the analysis of these representations and of the assumptions they rely on that the particularities of progress as representational principle are deduced. Progress appears in this perspective as a principle that celebrates an eternal state of imperfection but yet enables the existence of ephemeral forms of perfections. This inherent tension imposes a constant renewal of the way progress is represented that has consequences in terms of acceleration and movement. As principle, progress establishes also a necessity to claim authority and to take responsibility for changes to come.

Finally, the research shows that representations of progress not only define what progress is but also regenerate and reinforce the existence of progress as principle of change by containing a systematic attempt to persuade and convince an audience, which results ultimately in a propaganda of progress.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2005. , 171 p.
Studia Sociologica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0585-5551 ; 52
Keyword [en]
Sociology, progress, modernity, representation, propaganda, discourse, social change, housing
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-5917ISBN: 91-554-6305-3OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-5917DiVA: diva2:166899
Public defence
2005-09-30, Geijersalen, Hus 6, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2005-09-09 Created: 2005-09-09Bibliographically approved

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