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I am building a little world where all culture is manufactured by commercial organizations in order to make profit. The world, a very "new" country that was formed of colonizers from another Universe, is mostly comprised of tons of different immigrant groups and has no unifying cultural identity. It is a Cyberpunk state, with a rich corporate class as the Founding Fathers that intend to create a unified democratic republic, with a benevolent view of mercantile and scientific interests.

Of course, all those immigrant groups do have their own cultures, but the goal here is to create a new one that can either subsume or meld them together. There are so many that none can be said to be dominant, and then you get the manumissioned slaves, the second generation immigrants, and the rest of the sorts.

The end goal is that they create a system where they can control the culture and social systems through indoctrination, and thus create what they intend to be a unified, peaceful state with a well educated, peaceful peoples that can be trusted to run the society efficiently, without any divisions based on ideology.

How can that be done? Where and how is Culture even manufactured, and how can these means of production be controlled by these corporate aristocrats?

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  • $\begingroup$ Much more interestingly, where is rebel counterculture made (and is it a competing industry, or a cottage operation)? $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Feb 18, 2022 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ "create a system where they can control the culture and social systems through indoctrination" suggests that the created culture will value power and wealth and over rule-of-law. So it will encourage and reward corruption and betrayal and exploitation, and there will be few (or no) trustworthy institutions. That's basically Orwellian, and it's been done. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Feb 18, 2022 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ Culture is never manufactured. That’s the answer you would get in college; people form one from their surroundings. Please narrow this question to a single problem. If it gets closed, you can edit it and it may be voted to reopen. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Feb 18, 2022 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 Every culture has a system of indoctrination. Cultures that value the 'rule-of-law' also have it. Children need to be taught to respect the law and to abide by the law. It is not something 'instinctive'. This teaching process is indoctrination. You may not like the word (and it does have negative connotations) but it does not change the fact that all cultures use some form of indoctrination to pass their values and traditions onto the following generations. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 18, 2022 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ @VogonPoet I would not be so sure about it. Take a good look at yourself and your surroundings. Your outfit is probably something that the clothing manufacturer/seller designated as something suitable for people like you. Your dwelling (or your ideal dwelling) is very likely to be inspired by TV. At least half of your wants and needs are influenced by mass media and advertisements (it is a good question whether these needs and wants are even real). Not to mention that some cultural traditions are known to be manufactured, e.g. Christmas/New Year gifts or engagement rings. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 18, 2022 at 19:59

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In today's business world, culture is a real thing that get either created ad-hoc or deliberately through top management efforts. There are books on how to create culture in businesses.

Basically, a business leader decides that certain elements of culture are important and structures both events and compensation to encourage those. So, events such as "all hands meetings", off site team building actions, and competitions are used. At the same time, leaders use 360 reviews, employee surveys, and compensation programs (your raise is dependent on having x score on y element of your employee survey).

To use those on a population basis: Corporations band together to sponsor community events that promote the specific culture you want. For example, religious festivals can be sponsored. (Mark Cuban has sponsored the Dallas St. Patrick's Day parade. Corporations pay a lot for sports stadium naming rights. Notice how many corporations paid a lot for Super Bowl ads which are in a "religious" event.) (The flip side is also worth looking at: where did the money come from to support mob actions, cross burnings, etc.) Corporations can pay for population surveys to see how well their efforts are working to generate the culture they want.

The biggest problem is when corporations start working at opposite purposes. You will find major campaigns to push culture in competing directions. Dallas had a business council that coordinated business cultural efforts for a number of years till people rebelled against it.

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    $\begingroup$ But that's more abetting culture. Here, I want one to be created. Cuban just works inside the system. He did not invent St Patrick's Day. Maybe something like Debeers and Diamonds....now I come to think of it. $\endgroup$
    – Thales
    Feb 18, 2022 at 17:37
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Where and how is culture manufactured?

Objects of cultural significance can potentially be manufactured anywhere. Examples range from idols crafted for clandestine worship to craftspeople doing their jobs and artists questioning the status quo.

But you do need history for culture to develop. Since manufacturing a fake (sense of) history from scratch won't do (after several generations you might be able to manipulate the memory of history, but that's another story), I think you (or the commercial organizations) should embrace the diversity of the cultures that currently inhabit your new world.

How can these means of production be controlled by corporate aristocrats?

I believe manufacturing culture as a means to unite disparate ethnic groups can only be successful if it incorporates and consolidates sufficient extant culture.

You probably want to prevent the consequences of forced assimilation (but do note that this is still only about banning specific cultural properties, not inventing a new history outright).

The keyword here is syncretism, the term used to describe similar processes that happened throughout human history, well-known examples of which include the incorporation of pagan traditions into Christianity and vice versa.

From that Wikipedia article:

"Syncretism was common during the Hellenistic period, with rulers regularly identifying local deities in various parts of their domains with the relevant god or goddess of the Greek Pantheon as a means of increasing the cohesion of their kingdom."

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes +1 like this answer.. I can add an example. The Beatles use harmonic chords based on Bach's work and Bach's work was rooted in medieval church music, which in turn used the Pythagorean tonal system. Manufactured culture, like any culture, is always based on the past, else it won't work. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Feb 19, 2022 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand why it's not an option to create an artificial history. Disinformation works. Just because it's used for evil purposes in the real world doesn't mean that a fictional society couldn't use it for more benign purposes (especially if the socioeconomic elite are as implausibly good-natured as OP describes). Why not simply fabricate an idealistic history and then pay storytellers and artists to propagate it through consumer culture? $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Feb 19, 2022 at 1:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Tom Because people have a sense of (their) history, and tend to identify with what it has taught us and what it has produced. When moving to a different country with a different culture, people tend to hang on to their old cultures, and only slowly incorporate bits and pieces of the culture that surrounds them. Disinformation works when people have little to no idea of the truth. $\endgroup$
    – Joachim
    Feb 19, 2022 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Joachim History is manufactured as well. And perceptions of history change over time. WWII is a great example. In 1945 57% of the French public believed that the USSR contributed the most. In 2015 only 15% thought so. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 19, 2022 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Otkin That's not history nor manufacture, but disinformation. 'Manufacture' implies the use of hands ('manus'), so refers to the production of objects (which can admittedly potentially inform about a false history), and perceptions of history are not the same as history (realizing that can be a thin line). But you cannot create history and assume people will just assimilate it as part of their heritage, you can only do it piecemeal (hence my remark "after several generations you might be able to manipulate the memory of history"). $\endgroup$
    – Joachim
    Feb 19, 2022 at 22:12

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