Recuperation (politics)

In the sociological sense, recuperation is the process by which politically radical ideas and images are twisted, co-opted, absorbed, defused, incorporated, annexed and commodified within media culture and bourgeois society, and thus become interpreted through a neutralized, innocuous or more socially conventional perspective.[1][2][3] More broadly, it may refer to the cultural appropriation of any subversive works or ideas by mainstream culture. It is the opposite of détournement, in which images and other cultural artifacts are appropriated from mainstream sources and repurposed with radical intentions.

The concept of recuperation was formulated by members of the Situationist International, its first published instance in 1960.[4] The term conveys a negative connotation because recuperation generally bears the intentional consequence (whether perceived or not) of fundamentally altering the meanings behind radical ideas due to their appropriation or being co-opted into the dominant discourse.


Pointing to "the erosion of publicly owned media", and capitalist realism, Aaron Bastani wrote of the "recuperation of the internet by capital," saying that the consequences of this persistent corporate media recuperation included a reinforcement of status quo, repression of dissent and artistic expression.[5]

Social justice advocates have identified the popular discourse of The New Jim Crow as recuperative, saying that it obscures an analysis of mass-incarceration in the United States by adhering to a counterrevolutionary contextual framework.[6][7]

See also


  1. Kurczynski, Karen Expression as vandalism: Asger Jorn's "Modifications", in RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics No. 53/54 (Spring - Autumn, 2008), pp.295-6. Quotation:
    the process by which those who control the spectacular culture, embodied most obviously in the mass media, co-opt all revolutionary ideas by publicizing a neutralized version of them, literally turning oppositional tactics into ideology. [] The SI {Situationist International} identified the threat of revolutionary tactics being absorbed and defused as reformist elements. [] The SI pinpointed the increasingly evident problem of capitalist institutions subverting the terms of oppositional movements for their own uses [] recuperation operated on all fronts: in advertising, in academics, in public political discourse, in the marginal discourses of leftist factions, and so on.
  2. Taylor & Francis Group (1993) Textual Practice: Volume 7, p.4. Quotation:
    the negative harmonization attributed to media society. [] revolutionary artists of the late twentieth century are faced with problems of intelligibility, accessibility and recuperation radically different from those of their predecessors. [] current concern with radical writers and media recuperation is the possibility that avant-garde revolutionary art may not be possible, recognizable, or even desirable right now.
  3. Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movements, p. 59. Quotation:
    recuperation, namely, that the ruling class could twist every form of protest around to salvage its own ends. [] Détournement [] is the revolutionary counterpart to recuperation, a subversive plagiarism that diverts the spectacle's language and imagery from its intended use.
  4. Canjuers, Pierre and Debord, Guy, Préliminaires pour une définition de l’unité du programme révolutionnaire, English translation available here: Preliminaries Toward Defining a Unitary Revolutionary Program.
  5. Bastani, Aaron. "The Communication Commons: resisting the recuperation of the internet by capital," OpenDemocracy, 25 May 2011.
  6. Thomas, G. , Vox Union, 2012.
  7. Osel, J. Toward Détournement of The New Jim Crow, or, The Strange Career of The New Jim Crow, International Journal of Radical Critique, 2012.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.