Consuming the scapegoat: Mass shootings as systemically necessary cultural trauma

International Journal of Marketing Semiotics and Discourse Studies 8 (Special Issue on Trauma & Consum):1-16 (2020)
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Mass shootings constitute a recurrent and most violent phenomenon in the U.S. and elsewhere. This paper challenges the ready-made, solipsistically contained metanarratives on offer by mainstream media and formal institutions with regard to the psychological antecedents of the perpetrating social actors, while theorizing mass shootings as acts of violence that are systemically inscribed in the foundations of communities. These foundations abide by the logic of sacrifice which is propagated in instances of collective traumatism. It is argued that the cultural trauma that emanates from events of mass shootings, inasmuch as the commemorative events that are performed on regular occasions, constitute re-enactments of the death drive that sustains communities. The cultural analytic deploys against a CDA reading of longitudinal studies on mass shootings, coupled with psychoanalytic discourse analysis, prior to submitting mass shootings to a deconstructive line of reasoning as systemically necessary transcendental violence. Ultimately, it is shown that the intertextual institutional chain that informs the mediatized representation of this social phenomenon merely attains to obliterate and, hence, to propagate cultural traumatism and the sacrificial logic that underpins it. The terms micrometanarrative, parafunction and expropriating ipseity are introduced and operationalized in this context.



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George Rossolatos
Universität Gesamthochschule Kassel

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