In your own words, explain Marx’s theory of how exploitation works under capitalism. To answer this question, you will need to explain the differences between use-value, exchange-value, and surplus-value, what produces value according to Marx, and how capitalism reproduces exploitation and inequality. Next, describe the conditions of labour in which Chinese workers are producing the Mardi Gras beads, as well as the roles in and justifications for this labour given by the Chinese factory owner, Roger Wong, and the American distributor, Dom Carlone. How would Marx’s theory of labour, value, and exploitation under capitalism account for the production of the Mardi Gras beads?
In your own words, explain commodity fetishism and the different approaches taken to this practice by the false consciousness theory of ideology versus the cynical reason theory of ideology. Next, analyze some of the answers given by people at the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans when the documentarist asks them if they know where the beads come from. Which of the responses of the Mardi Gras celebrators might be seen as an example of a false consciousness version of commodity fetishism? Why? Which seems more like a cynical reason version of commodity fetishism? Why? One way to approach this question is to choose responses which seem particularly good examples of one or the other approach to commodity fetishism and compare and contrast them. You may draw on the responses of Mardi Gras celebrators provided at any point in the documentary, but note that some excellent responses can be found in a brief sequence beginning at minute 31 of the documentary.
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