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Spring Discussion Series Will Examine Commercialization Of Society

January 30, 2003-- With the free market system now the unchallenged form of political economy throughout the world, life everywhere seems increasingly consumerist and commercial. Will this extreme marketplace philosophy lead society to good ends or strip away many of our highest values?

That is one of the questions to be examined during this spring’s annual colloquium series sponsored by the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Titled “The Commodification of Everything,” the program will shed light on the forces that are driving society to transform almost everything –- from children’s lives to education to religion –- into objects for sale.

Six distinguished speakers will explore the forces of commodification and their widespread effects on contemporary culture. All discussions, open to the public, will be at 3:30 p.m. in Minor Hall auditorium on the dates indicated.

Feb. 13 -- Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College, will speak on “From Cool to Commodified: Targeting the American Child.” Schor is the author of “The Overspent American” and “The Overworked American” and has written extensively on consumerism, tracking the way that increased consumer expectations have placed profound new pressures on families.

Feb. 27 -- George Ritzer, professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and author of “The McDonaldization of Society,” will speak on globalization and consumerism.

March 13 -- David Lyon of the sociology department of Queen’s University, Ontario, will present a paper on “Commodification, Classification and the Culture of Control.” His work focuses on surveillance and the influence of new technologies and techniques of classification on the ordering of our social world. His books include “Jesus in Disneyland” and “The Surveillance Society.”

March 21 -- Graham Ward, professor of theology and ethics at the University of Manchester, England, will discuss “The Commodification of Religion.” He is the author of “True Religion” and “Theology and Contemporary Critical Theory,” among other books.

April 10 -- Kiku Adatto, a lecturer on Social Studies at Harvard University who has written extensively on American culture, will speak on “Selling Out Childhood,” focusing on the changing culture of childhood and community life. Also speaking will be Michael Sandel, a professor of government at Harvard, who is the author of “Liberalism and the Limits of Justice” and “Democracy’s Discontents.” His paper is titled “Are There Some Things that Money Can’t Buy?: The Moral Limits of Markets.”

For more information, see the Institute Web site at www.virginia.edu/iasc or call (434) 924-7705.

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (434) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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