Propaganda of Progress
The Case of Swedish Housing Exhibitions

By Alain Imboden
Studia Sociologica Upsaliensia, No. 52
December 2005
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 9155463053
171 pages, Illustrated, 6 ½ x 9 ½”
$47.50 Paper Original

This is a Ph.D. dissertation. The purpose of this research is to analyze what progress is made of in terms of meanings in order to confirm and explain its presence as representational principle of change. Meanings produced in the context of four housing exhibitions are analyzed, which reveals that progress is represented through choice and hierarchies revolving around a delimited series of issues addressed by all four events.

The analysis 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. This analysis enables to deduce the particularities of progress as representational principle. Progress 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. Progress establishes also a necessity to claim authority and to take responsibility for changes to come. The research concludes by showing that representations of progress not only define what progress is but also regenerate and reinforce its existence as representational principle of change by containing a systematic attempt to persuade and convince an audience, which results ultimately in a propaganda of progress.

Sociology; Housing

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