From Ivan Illich, “Shadow-Work” (pdf

Continuing the theme of “forced consumption.” The labor of manufacturing desire and consent for consumerism (and for white/male supremacy), of fostering resilience in subjects who might otherwise be overwhelmed with competing demands and anxieties.

Shadow work is a way of describing the effort we put into getting ourselves or others to attach themselves to various forms of oppression. I’d argue that “self-construction” along social media lines is a form of shadow work, as well as the things Illich lists. Also, prosumption and the forms of affective labor that re-enchant consumerism.

In short, the obligation to consume is fused with the obligation to build a self, and the family is the site where that fusion takes place. “Love” is the binding force.

We experience care and love as encouragement to enjoy becoming ourselves — that is, to enjoy being a consumer or a prosumer. Caring about someone becomes a matter of teaching them how to enjoy compensatory things, products. 


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