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The “Green Consumption” and the Rhizomatic Capital Strategy: Ads and Reports in the Brazilian Media

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DOI: 10.4236/aasoci.2017.72003    878 Downloads   1,340 Views   Citations


The purpose of this essay, whose theoretical bases are inspired by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, is to investigate the relationship between consumption, subjectivity, capital and nature, in the context of the world society of control, the production of the “green” consumption market in Brazil and the representation of the “human having” as an identity proposition, which is revealed through “subjectivity kits” in this market. The research is exploratory, qualitative and theoretical-empirical, carried out through bibliographical (books and authors that dialogue with the subject investigated) and documentary techniques (selected ads and reports in searched journals). Through the conception of the rhizomatic capitalism, the above mentioned relationships are, in principle, articulated within a logic capable of reflecting the “liquefaction” of the concept of sustainability in contemporary times. Thus, the perspective of the theme of “liquid sustainability” (through the concept of “capitalistic culture”) sets up the production of new ways of being (prêt-à-porter identities), the capture of new desires and the creation of new devices of social control, in which all the social actors that are involved in its production participate (and empower) in the ideation of an Ecopower. In particular, the companies and the media, which publicizes and “produtilizes” the nature, are liquefied as a consumer brand and aestheticized with authenticity features on the market, as a brand and marketing modeling of the consumption of appearances, a true simulacrum with speeches of green washing, social washing or green social washing. Through different aesthetic movements of agency, the market of “green consumption” is conceived as a brand that semiotizes and influences the production of subjectivity. An unbearable lightness of having and the “subjectivity kits”—everlasting—that stick, peel off and contradict each other, fed back through the strategic fluidity of the rhizomatic capital in the Brazilian market.

1. Introduction

The consumption is an element that is inherent in the process of accumulation and development of the capitalism practices. In all its phases and production systems, there is a symbiotic relationship between the consumption and its link with the society.

The nature is represented in the consumption scope as a built and subjectivized culture-commodity, which is anchored in the social relationships established by its conception associated to a capital good production. This new edified representation feebly connects the consumer to the nature, leveraging new idealizations that can be seen both in the Fordist and in the post-fordist or post-modern periods (Sachs & Warner, 1995) .

The modernization process printed by the Fordist system grew the distance between the individual and its links to the traditional communities and societies where the nature was a living space. In this period, under many symbolic expressions, the nature is what is “out there”, a place represented as idealized environment. It is associated both to an image of idyllic paradise and to a feared space, in which the disasters occur and, therefore, to be avoided. This “disengagement” fixes the identity of the individual to a mere “industrial” role or productive resource like the nature, which is relegated to a secondary and supporting role of the capital.

On the other hand, in the post-industrial or post-modern period, the media inserts will socially rebuild the connection of the individual with the natural space more closely, putting it in a leading role in a condition of culture-com- modity. It is the new consumption place, where the green products, the ecological brands and the environmental communication, for example, commodify the individual welfare (Reis, 2012) . The concept of “nature”, therefore, according to Guattari (1991) , became a target of capitalist subjectivation with the subjection of the environment as means of dissemination of the values of the capitalist market, represented in many consumption spheres, with culture and symbolic signification and dissymbolization.

It is possible to understand this better when we study the conception of contemporary capitalism―decentralized, global and integrated (Guattari, 1981, 1991) , through its schizophrenic and rhizomatic strategy (Deleuze & Guattari, 1995) , invades the instinctual and collective entrails producing the idea that the question is no longer “be” but “be/have/seem”.

Inspired by the Deleuze and Guattari’s points of view, from the concepts of the society of control, integrated global capitalism (rhizomatic) and production of subjectivity, this article seeks to reflect about the human being and its psychosocial and cultural transformations through another approach: the “human having”. Not as a metaphysical conception of human nature, but above all, from the pers- pective of the future, i.e. the mutability of the individual as a strategy of an identity virtuality.

This identity virtuality is presented through “subjectivities kits” (Rolnik in Alliez, 2000) as produced, ephemeral, discarded and publicized identities in the consumer society. These “subjetivities kits” are presented as identities whose fluctuations and variations are continuous, malleable and produced as brand models in market, operating under the order of the disposability. Sibilia’s (2002: p. 33) perspective, in turn, converges and ratifies from Rolnik’s (in Alliez, 2000) point of view, by describing that these identities are polyphonic and polycentric, according to the logic of the “light capitalism” (Bauman, 2001) or rhizomatic (Deleuze & Guattari, 1995) , being dealt under the fluidity of liquid-modern society (Sibilia, 2002) :

“[…] the illusion of a fixed and stable identity, feature of the modern industrial society, starts to cede ground to the ‘standard profile kits’ or ‘prêt-à- porter identities’, according to the denominations of Suely Rolnik” (p. 33).

In the tensions between subjectivity, capital and consumption, the sustainability theme becomes a strategic point of provocation in this field of reflection, revealing the nature matter as a research object in the condition of a “culture- commodity” and subjectivation (Guattari & Rolnik, 2000) , mainly through the lens of the world society of control plots and of marketing as a social control device (Deleuze, 1992) . The contemporary point of view of the rhizomatic capitalism logic differs from that of the Fordist industrial capitalism, because the latter inserts the nature in the production-consumption cycle as a productive resource. The nature, by the Fordist perspective, is neglected as an element of the “advertising capital”, both in the production and in the individual scope. The industrial logic is objectively and intensively related to the nature, as a command and control system, guided by the order of the environmental law up to the 1980’s, when the sustainability theme emerges as a strategy that covers mainly the issue of the consumption in its discussion in the society (Sachs & Warner, 1995; Reis, 2012) .

Pursuing these clues and expanding the debate, from the perspective of the marketing look of a society of control, whose main vector is the consumption (Deleuze, 1992) , the concept of sustainability will incorporate, in the overall plan, new values and new perspectives in the debate on development, horizontalizing the relations between society and nature, in an ecosophical way (Guattari, 1991) , from the logical mediation of a rhizomatic, light and fluid capitalism with connectionist, intangible and natural features (Pelbart, 2003) , producer of subjectivities. Thus, in the light of the market plateaus (networks) (Deleuze & Guattari, 1995) , it can be speculated that there has been a movement of “produtilization” of nature, which is one of the possibilities of turning the sustainable appeal into a product, both for strategic and marketing appropriation by social actors such as media and business corporations, which appropriate the theme of sustainability as a power strategy, and for the “dispossession” of this movement towards the production of a new consumer demand and the creation of identities. As well as in the construction and elasticity of a new brand: the “green market”, whose environmental/ecological appeal is its indelible mark (Tavares et al., 2015) . This movement described by Pelbart (2003) as connectionist and rhizomatic, establishes a new consumption mode, regulating the social and life relationships, believing in the products with ecologic appeal. Accordingly, the nature is produtilized and presented as a commodity by the adverting media as marketing strategy.

One way to think about and investigate this movement is to understand what might be called “liquefaction of sustainability” (Tavares, Irving, & Vargas, 2013) . This term represents the look that widens the conception of sustainability to a condition of capitalization of the nature as market value and consumption good. This way, the “green market” is set as a metamorphosis of the strategies of the contemporary capitalism, especially by incorporating immaterial, connectionist and natural values focused on the production of desires and ways of being as consumer identities and brand modeling (“subjectivity kits”) and also by the dematerialization of nature from the market look.

It is within an immaterial and parasitic capitalism that the liquefaction of the sustainability is presented and set, materializing and dematerializing the relationships between the society and the nature, upon strategies of capitalization of what was not capitalizable (Pelbart, 2003) .

In this sense, it is necessary to consider that nature has acquired market value as an object of consumption Guattari & Rolnik (2000) , being signified and resignified as commodity, mainly through the speeches made by the media capital and the corporate capital. Everything indicates that this commodification occurs through the look of a consumption qualified as “green”, underlined as “green consumption”, which legitimates (and widens) the notion of sustainability as a differential and strategy of a current “green power” (Ecopower) as pointed out by Tavares and Irving (2009) . The Ecopower is represented as a deployment of the practices of the Biopower concept thought by Focault (Pelbart, 2003) , which produces and is produced in market networks, where nature is, at the same time, object of power and bio-political discourse constructed by social actors involved in its promotion, through power and knowledge devices as procedural and singularized strategies in the production of subjectivity (Guattari, 1993) , according to Tavares and Irving (2009) .

The established standpoint to portray the concept of “green consumption” in Brazil, in this article, is based on the perspective of a rhizome (Deleuze & Guattari, 1995; Tavares & Irving, 2009) , which is founded on the concept of a network of mutual influence of micropolitcs, contexture and agencies of production, in an imminent way (as a living organism and in permanent creation). Accordingly, the media and the corporations―as segmentarity lines―influence and empower in a connectionist way, from the logic of the rhizomatic capitalism. Pelbart (2003) contributes to the thinking of the logic of the rhizomatic capitalism through the idea of connectionist capitalism, with characteristics such as flexibility, mobility and hybridism of the information, styles and universes, in order that this information can relate and proliferate by the nets.

In the rhizomatic field, it is assumed that the ways of being of these social actors are regulated by the market (“capitalistic culture”). The concept of nature is organized according to a “produtilization” strategy through the dynamic “nature-natured/nature-naturing” relation, as a marketing process. This process seems to oxygenate, amplify and reframe the notion of sustainability as a facet of a brand to be consumed, liquefied in market networks through different agencies of enunciation produced by corporations and the media (Deleuze & Guattari, 1997) .

With this reading, the main objective of this article is reached, which is to investigate the tensions and relationships between consumption, subjectivity, capital and nature, from a point of view that enhances the creation of a “green consumption” movement in the Brazilian market. Both in market networks and in the production of the idea of what might be called as nature’s consumer strategy and its transformation into products sold and consumed in the market, in the context of the society of control.

Based on this purpose, how to define the notion of the idea of “green consumption” from the market networks perspective? In what ways can the consumption of nature and production of subjectivity be reflected, through the rhizomatic logic of the capitalism in the society of control context?

The theoretical tracks trailed in this essay are based on the ideas of the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and on authors who embody and dialogue in an interdisciplinary way with the analyzed object. The research is exploratory, qualitative and theoretical-empirical, and is constructed through readings and bibliographical analysis that guide the themes of consumption, subjectivity and capital as well as the documentary survey of advertisements and stories of socio-environmental nature published in Veja (Brazilian general interest magazine with largest circulation) and Exame (Brazilian business magazine with largest circulation), according to the Circulation Verification Institute (“Instituto Verificador de Circulação―IVC”) in 2015 only as a way to illustrate and punctuate the theme investigated (IVC, 2015) . From the total of 13,352 pages analyzed in 2015, in Veja and Exame magazines, it was found 107 pages dedicated to campaigns with social and environmental appeal. This data shows that around 1% of the total pages brought, in some way, advertisings with environmental or social and environmental plea. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that the total advertisings by magazine varies from 20% to 40% and that each copy has at least 100 pages and maximum 296 pages (during the analyzed period).

2. In the Sinuosity, Consumption Is the Brand

The term “society of control”, used by Deleuze (1992) to designate the contemporary society, portrays different perspectives and nuances, divided by the consumption’s logic: “If in the discipline the capitalism is directed to the production, in the control it is to consumption” (Deleuze, 1992: p. 223) .

Evidencing this reflection, the logic of the control society operates according to the perspective of a deterritorialized capitalism, as described by Hardt (2000: p. 372) :

[…] with the society of control, we finally got to this point, the capitalist point of arrival. As the world market, it is a form that has no outside, no border, or otherwise, has fluid and mobile limits. To resume the title of my exhibition, the society of control is already, immediately, a global society of control.

In the context of the “global society of control”, according to Hardt (2000) , the (mainstream) consumption becomes a postmodern device of social control that the business strategies and the mass media start to adopt, through its production strategies of ways of being and desire creation, articulating life and reproducing the new social orders, where nothing can get way and everything can be captured (Pelbart, 2003) .

From the different enunciation agency movements, the companies and the media use social control devices capable of creating demand, market and desires, producing and enticing new consume orders. However, to think about the concept of control society, it is important to highlight, from a genealogical point of view about the formation of the society, that its conception succeeds the notion of disciplinary society. This is because the term control society, approached by Deleuze (1992) , is a deployment of the concept of disciplinary society, described by Michel Foucault as societal model comprised between the 18th and 19th centuries, reaching its top in the 20th century; which characterized the logic of a disciplinary capitalism based mainly on the production.

Kumar (1997) mentions that the disciplinary rigidity of the capitalism of the Fordist Era was one of the main reasons for its fall and for the need of its adaptation to the demands that were arising with the new models of consumption. This occurred because the market began to enlarge and the possibilities of choice began a more varied work by the marketing tools existing at the time and the extreme rigidity was limiting the expansion of the businesses.

Guattari (1981) identified that it would be necessary to integrate the market segments in order that they are more accessible and to stimulate the individual’s desirous production, through the social relationships, thus, attracting later, through its own market values. Accordingly, we can observe the set of the Integrated World Capitalism, which displaces from the production to the consumption and brings the matter of the capitalistic subjectivity as strategy for creative mobilization of market and production of desires. Accordingly, the sustainability matter reflects a brand model to be explored as a new consumption object.

Other matter to be observed is the transformation of the need into desire, which is the main objective of the capitalism that gives rise to the desirous production. The insertion of the matter of the sustainability into people live led the individuals to value the social and environmental print as a reflection of the consumption society.

Thus, it is possible to observe the sophistication of the Integrated World Capitalism into a Rhizomatic Capitalism, taking as example the pulverization of the nature such as a commodity as subjective production strategy, tangling and producing the market desires.

According to Deleuze (1992) , consumption is a form of social regulation of control, sublimating the idea that in order to be, you must have/consume (or at least seem to). Otherwise, reclusion is what remains. The logic of contemporary capitalism reaffirms this statement. The marketing, as the practice of social and environmental responsibility, for example, is one of the instruments of this social control adopted by different social actors, mainly by corporations and the media.

According to Deleuze’s thinking, the society of control transforms the consumption in a “belonging password” to be “inside” the deterritorialized space of the rhizomatic capitalism, in which marketing has a key role.

Extending this argument, from the reverberations of the deterritorialized capitalism described by Guattari (1981) , marketing strategies can be seen under different angles and agencies: in the creation of products, in the production of images and in media and advertising discourses, for example.

These agencies appear to metabolize the strategy of a rhizomatic capitalism, with connectionist and intangible characteristics that turns everything and everyone into products through the “produtilization” (Pelbart, 2003) . In this capitalism scenario, the issue of “green consumption” appears to be made in market networks by corporations and the media, being the nature another object of consumption.

In the light of the society of control, if the undulation movement of capital in contemporary society produces nature as a new commodity, it is, therefore, necessary to reflect how the notion of sustainability can be reframed and liquefied in the same “undulating mats” of the capital: flexible, rhizomatic and connectionist, producer of a new social order, the “green consumption”. Considering the context of this sustainability logic, is it possible to think that nature is produced as a new brand of consumption?

Continuing with the reflection, having the society of control as a backdrop, do the new relationships between nature and capital (mediated by consumption) seem to reframe the meaning of the concept of sustainability nowadays to the configuration of “green consumption” in Brazil?

3. Liquefaction of Sustainability and the Production of the “Green Consumption”

The look of the sustainability matter in Brazil is represented through the marketing perspective, mirroring the logic of rhizomatic capitalism, considering the society of control’s scenario, in which consumption is a key feature. For Tavares (2014) , in this context, the sustainability strategy liquefies in the plateaus of the market as a brand capitalized by the main social factors involved in its production (through different agencies), especially in the “produtilization” of the meaning of nature, according to the idea of “culture-commodity” (Guattari & Rolnik, 2000) .

In this sense, corporate capitalism begins to influence the agenda of the concept of sustainability (Veiga, 2010) , which promotes and focuses on the values of consumption and environmental marketing (Kotler, 2010) , boosting the basis of the “green consumption era” (Banerjee et al., 1995) .

On the production of “green consumption”, topics such as environmental management, marketing 3.0, environmentally friendly products and brands, ecolabels, sustainability reports, environmental balances, environmental certifications and environmental responsibility massify and liquefy the aphorism of the sustainability idea, making the environmental theme appealing, a spectacular commodity to be consumed, nowadays, as identified in articles and ads displayed during 2015 in Veja and Exame magazines. That is, dominated by this logic, the nature becomes publicized and is shaped to fit the consumer culture, which promotes the theme of ecological sustainability as a spectacular value/business (Tavares & Irving, 2009) .

The predominance of economic interests is possibly an important factor of strategic influence in the dispossession of the concept of sustainability, from the condition of the “capitalistic culture” promoted by companies and the media in the consumer market. Considering the development model, inspired and powered in the neoliberal market strategy, the idea of the “green consumption” is represented as a creative strategy that contributes to the theme of sustainability to also become a political marketing movement to embrace even the new social demands in the light of consumption (Kotler, 2010) . As seen in the discourse disseminated by the media and corporations to promote the idea of “green consumption”, in the propagation of values such as “responsible and ethic consumption”, “ways of being green” and “sustainable brands” for the sake of a better world (Tavares & Irving, 2009) .

The “green speech”, the environmental marketing and environmental responsibility actions seem to act as social control devices of the media and the companies for the creation of new consumer markets and new identities of consumers (Deleuze, 1992) . Thus, the notion of sustainability brings a look of plasticizing―in the sense of pack that coats an idea, brand or value, by incorporating consumption values through liquefaction and capitalization of the environmental appeal (nature) as a brand to be consumed.

Returning to the “green speech” issue is also communicated in other forms. As reported and discussed by Tavares and Irving (2009) , several advertising campaigns (from Corporate Social Responsibility to the sale of products and services with ecological appeal) of large companies in Brazil, as well as articles published in major national magazines that emphasize the production of an eco-friendly identity through their speeches, as a “way of being green”. This being considered as a prêt-à-porter identity shaped by the “green consumer” market, which expresses values, attitudes and actions of a social order, which represents an “aesthetic-ethic” to be consumed (Tavares, 2014) .

The incorporation of a consumer strategy in sustainability design process is based on the same logic that forged it: the capital, once, based on a biasexclusively natural or environmental, now, in a rhizomatic way, also in immaterial and connectionist conditions. And everything indicates that in the context of the society of control (Deleuze, 1992) , which constitutes the notion of “green consumption”, easing and enhancing the relations between society and nature, mediated by the market.

If the society of control can be understood as a backdrop to think of nature as a consumption value, how does the concept of rhizomatic capitalism inspire the process of transformation of nature into a commodity?

4. Devices and Strategies of the Rhizomatic Capital: Connectionist, Intangible and Natural

The dispossession of capital and its schizophrenic mobility expand the territories and areas of economic strategies and give a new perspective to the contemporary capitalism (Pelbart, 2003) . From a particularly local and verticalized capital as from the dismantling of rigid, hierarchical mechanical structures, originated in Fordism and Taylorism of a modern conception (Kumar, 1997) to a global, integrated, malleable, open, flexible, connectionist and web-based capitalism (Guattari, 1981; Pelbart, 2003) ; or light, according to the logic of “liquid modernity”, which is a scenario in which the relationships are fluid, where everything can be easily modeled again (Bauman, 2001) . Pelbart (2003: p. 97) contributes to this questioning

[…] the connectionist world is entirely rhizomatic, not final, not identity, favors the hibridisms, the migration, the multiple interfaces, metamorphoses etc. Of course that the ultimate capitalism goal remains the same, seeks profit, but the way in which it now tends to do it […] primarily through the network. Network capitalism, connectionist, rhizomatic […] a more flexible, undulating, open, with well-defined contours and more multiple connections functioning, in short […] rhizomatic. That capitalism has appropriated from this spirit, this logic, this functioning, could not leave us indifferent.

This rhizomatic capitalism (and its immaterial condition) starts to occupy all the spaces, easing its action in the market, turning nature into capital through the network mobility strategy.

By this network perspective, a new capitalism qualification arises: the “natural capitalism” (Hawken et al., 2002) , which expresses the relationship between the natural (conservation and supply), the production and the use of capital produced by man. The authors advocate the idea of not only protects the biosphere, but contribute to increase profits and competitiveness of companies, and relate successful cases of companies that have benefited from this change. That is, the synergy between natural capital and the traditionally known capital is understood by Hawken et al. (2002) as the “next Industrial Revolution”. However, Gonçalves (2001) points out that, nowadays, the capital subjugates nature, since it is solely perceived as a natural “resource”. The author states that: “[…] it’s evident, therefore, which capital cannot be dependent on the time of the nature, but requires, on the contrary, subordination to itself” (Gonçaves, 2001: p. 122) .

However, the perspective of the natural capitalism logic (from the sense of “commodity-culture”) is refined in the context of the society of control. Because it reflects life as a strategic issue of consumption, and nature is configured as much by the look of profitability in the competition as by the notion of “social and environmental responsibility”, eco-efficiency, competitive advantage, image production, new product management, brand image, ecologically correct identities and all movements that could lead the capital expansion further (Lazzarato & Negri, 2001) .

This capitalistic order is designed in a rhizomatic way in the world reality, in the psychosocial field and in culture. Also, it relates in different areas, plateaus and contexts, producing movements and “fabricating” the individual’s relationship with the world and with itself.

The rhizomatic capitalism produces subjectivities that are regulated by desire and consumption. For Hardt & Negri (2001) , this capitalism is configured under a Biopower identity system, which articulates social life as a power object. The concept of Biopower, engendered by the connectionist production of the capital movement (Pelbart, 2003) , is expressed as a control, which extends and expands through all the psychological, social, political, cultural, ecological and economic dimensions, being pervaded by consumption, according to the cultural commodification described by Guattari & Rolnik (2000) .

Furthermore, the logic of the rhizomatic capitalism reframes and maximizes the sense of profit. Thus, the profit produced by this new form of capital operation does not follow the traditional sense of “surplus value”, but, fundamentally, from its deterritorialized expansion, productivity, lobby, outsourcing strategy, and also from the emphasis in the management of technological innovation. This complements in the environmental “responsibility”, in the pressure for patents, in the global expansion of the brands (branding), in the creation of new consumer markets and other possible movements/agencies that may be produced.

Based on these agency strategies, contemporary capitalism produces subjectivities and ways of being more and more committed to an uncontrollable and astonishing expansion of the market, according to Guattari (1981) . At the heart of this growth, there are new control systems and social participation, mainly through the “consumption machine”, which continues to create, capture and produce desires (Pelbart, 2003) .

The prospect of the rhizomatic or connectionist capitalism is immaterial and integrated because, in addition to operating in flexible newtorks, is expressed in a deterritorialized, symbiotic and synergetic way (Guattari, 1981) , so that no human activity is out of its control. Considering that the function of this new capitalism is the restoration of the production and of the social life, as from their own fluidity, making capitalizable even what was not capital (Pelbart, 2003) .

In addition, the power of this new capitalism metabolizes life and produces new relationships, and above all, interfaces, operating primarily from the network direction (from a connectionist way) according to the logic of a war machine (Pelbart, 2003) . Not as a “mole” but as a “serpent” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1997) , flexible, undulating, open, with high mobility across all areas. Thus, the logic of the capital gains new contours and dimensions to reaffirm its rhizomatic sphere and the meaning of the consumer culture: it is subjective, intangible, social, symbolic, economic, speculative, intellectual, technological, cultural, political, corporate, environmental and human. That is, unlimited; becoming more synergetic and in constant move for the consumption (becoming-movement) and especially in the production of subjectivity (Guattari & Rolnik, 2000) .

The endogenization movement of contemporary capital, from a new world order―society of control (Deleuze, 1992) ―oxygenates and reflects the marketing of “green consumption” in Brazil, turning nature into an object of desire and consumption (Pelbart, 2003) . This transformation is hinged on the “mats” of “market society”, which, according to Bauman (2008) , liquefies in the context of “liquid modernity” (Bauman, 2001) . A clue to understand this movement is the notion of natural capitalism integrated to connectionist and immaterial relations.

In this sense, the logic of the “capitalistic culture” (Guattari & Rolnik, 2000) evidence nature as the protagonist of the natural capitalism strategy that extends its territories towards consumption (Dasgupta, 2007) , turning the non-capita- lized in market value under the aegis of the culture as an object of consumption/commodity. Its goal is to foster the productive-economic-subjective relations so that nothing escapes (Guattari, 1981, 1991) . Thus, starting from the rhizomatic condition of natural capital, the nature starts to represent an infinite range of values, not only the environmental, economic and competitive ones.

Reflecting the logic of natural capital from the premises of the rhizomatic capitalism concept, the notion of valuation of nature extends through different spaces and territories of the market. Thus, the mobility of the rhizomatic capitalism idea configure the conquest and production of new markets (and demands), through the creation and capture of desires (Guattari, 1981; Pelbart, 2003) , developing, continuously, values of (and for) consumption, as highlighted by Bauman (2008) , visible both in advertising and in the journalistic discourse, expressed as a commodity in Brazil.

One of these values, certainly, is the “produtilization” of nature. Shrouded by the “liquefied sustainability” meaning, nature, by ways of the “green consumption”, also becomes an important commodity in the rhizomatic capitalism perspective, in a sense of an immaterial look.

The immaterial capitalism logic operates in the transformation of non-capita- lizable in market value. So, contemporary capitalism “turns the non-equity capital in not only landscapes, rhythms, but also in ways of being, of doing, of having pleasure […], in the intuition to anticipate the public’s desires” (Pelbart, 2003: p. 104) .

And besides the creation and production of desires, the sense of commodification of the difference and originality is built. From the concept of the idea of “liquid sustainability”, new values emerge, associated with nature as a strategy for commodification of authenticity. Paradoxically, at the same time that occurs the spectacularization of nature as a consumer product aestheticized by difference, the very conception of nature-commodity weakens.

Pelbart (2003: p. 104) discusses this statement: “(…) the example of the environmentally friendly products is striking, as they were incorporated into the market, whilst a growing suspicion overthrew its profitability, given this dynamic detrition inherent in the commodification of authenticity”.

The immaterial nature of the capital, at the same time that generates a freedom of commodification of life and from all walks of life, is also set to create new connections/identities, and produce consumer markets eager for difference, which now sell new reframing of discourses of nature, especially in the form of ephemeral and disposable products (ideas and arguments). This obsolescence movement of nature, produced by the media and by corporations, perpetuates and propels. However, the movement doesn’t end, i.e., new market and consumption bubbles will emerge in the connectionist search for new environmental appeals of authenticity as a process that feeds back.

From the look of the conception of a rhizomatic capitalism, how to define the relationship between the “liquefaction” of the sustainability matter and the production of the movement of “green consumption”, being nature a market value?

5. The Consumption of Nature: The “Green” Value as a Brand

According to Guattari & Rolnik (2000) , the logic of a “culture-commodity” configure (and reproduce) the capitalistic subjectivity, whose production is established in accordance with cultural strategy practiced and promoted by the market, which currently “semioticizes” nature as consumption value and a brand.

Thus, ideas and products with environmental, ecological and/or linked to the so called “environmental responsibility” appeals, have been gaining prestige in the market, being “politicized” as market values by corporations and the media. The subject was a central theme in the discussion of the Oxford Commission of Sustainable Consumption, in April 1999 (Michaelis, 2003) .

The growth of the consumption of these products and services in the market, according to Holliday (2002) , is based both in the marketing and communication efforts, as in the image created for them, from the logic of a spectacle (Pelbart, 2003) .

Complementing the thinking of Pelbart (2003) ; Debord (1997: p. 25) states that if the “(…) spectacle is the capital to such an extent of accumulation that it becomes an image”, it is necessary to consider that the environmental marketing (for means of social control devices such as advertising and propaganda) can be considered one of the strategies that contribute to produce the consumption of nature, driven by the logic of the rhizomatic/immaterial capitalism, powering “green products” as “brands with soul” (Kotler, 2010; Tavares, 2014) , whose images are spectacularized by the marketing communication campaigns (Pelbart, 2003; Tavares & Irving, 2009) . Lazzarato & Negri (2001: p. 63) confirm this point of view and advise that:

Even more precisely: advertising serves not only to inform about the market, but to constitute it. It enters into ‘interactive’ relationship with the consumer, aiming not just at their needs, but above all to their desires. It does not aimonly at their passions and their emotions, but directly questions the “political” reason. It does not produce only the consumer, but also the “individual” of the immaterial capitalism.

Shedding light on this debate, when it comes to the market and the consumption of nature, the “green consumption” itself, nowadays, is in the realm of the spectacle. Agencies produced by the media and advertising, through the “green speech” present in the different journalistic guidelines and advertisements, which publicizes the image of nature, in condition of a commodity, both as a business opportunity and as in the consumption of products with ecological and sustainable appeals, whose approach values the well-being (Tavares & Irving, 2009) . And also through environmental responsibility programs developed by companies that position their brands in this context, as a competitive advantage (Porter & Linde, 1995) . Both movements create a unique and reputable image through different collective agencies of enunciation able to set up a consumer market that want nature as a product to be consumed with high marketing value, which is confirmed in an exploratory research conducted in the magazines Veja and Exame.

In this sense, nature, from the desire for authenticity, is then transformed into a new brand/commodity. The spectacularization of nature causes a strategy of “produtilization” of the “green” as a way of authenticity of commodification in the condition of a differentiated “brand” (Pelbart, 2003) , for which all social actors converge and take possession, as part of the “green” trade.

In this scenario of transformation of nature into a commodity, the rhizomatic capitalism has a strategic role. The market of “green consumption” in Brazil, thanks to the massive investments made by companies in marketing campaigns, has been outstanding in the creation and supply of “green products”, which begin to incorporate new approaches. Such as: quality of the sustainable manufacturing process; products manufactured with the minimum amount of material; light and recyclable packages; use of recyclable materials; conservation of natural resources; efficiency in energetic themes; maximization of environmental consumer safety; environmental certifications; durability; reuse and replacement for refills; recycling and remanufacturing; and compostable and degradable characteristics (Tavares & Irving, 2009) . Thus, the environmental marketing and their ecological premises becomes part of business strategies, from approaches that emphasize the perspective of the idea of “liquid sustainability”.

The calls used in environmentally friendly products are developed from the environmental marketing promises, as a business tool in leveraging the “green business” in the market. Thus, the “green marketing” invests in creating new demands, producing subjectivities and capturing market desires, according to the rhizomatic capitalism strategy, which drives products with ecological appeal (Tavares et al., 2015) .

According to Tavares & Irving (2009) , the strategic thinking that reflects the approach of that capitalism, in the society of control scenario, also happens to be incorporated by different social actors in the process of “green consumption”. The discussion of the sustainability theme is the key to think about the issue of consumption that is portrayed as a power (and about the) market. Thus, based on a sustainability strategy that is also “liquid”, all actors empower the idea of a “green power”, current, in the sense of an Ecopower, with the aim of promoting nature as a sign of consumption.

In Brazil, the sense of nature as a capitalizable/object of consumption refers to the idea of a “better life”, from the differential image built by the so-called “green consumption” as a way of doing good, of acting politically and environmentally friendly. And in this case, all the actors involved in the process of consumption legitimize the production of Ecopower, a circulating power and capital that all, with all and through all, is influenced, controlled, produced and consumed, not only by corporations and the media, but also by NGOs, governments and political parties.

The Ecopower, as a social power-knowledge device, is also expressed as “ethical profit”, through an environmental ethos―marketing, which approximates, and at the same time extends and varnish economic and social issues under the expression of “liquid sustainability” strategy (Tavares, 2014) , in which, however, the social-environmental approach is not the protagonist. In the liquid sustainability process, the nature will be used and reused in order to become a brand that is known, forgotten, becomes another brand, goes through the same process and continues this way, not solidifying, because the objective is that the consumers feel they are constantly conquered and re-conquered.

Through the perspective of the concept of sustainability, nature is an object of power; the capital appropriates from nature; and so the nature begins to incorporate value as a new market brand: “Nature, Inc.” (Tavares & Irving, 2009) .

Starting from the “nature produtilization” thesis, how to reflect the development of the market of “green consumption” and its relationship in the production of subjectivity to think about the configuration of the “human having”?

6. The “Human Having” and the “Green Consumption”

Consumption, as stated, is a form of social regulation of control, which sublimates the idea that in order to “be” one must “have” or “seem to”. Otherwise, reclusion is what remains. The rhizomatic capitalism strategy reaffirms this position by means of marketing as an instrument of social control, producer of desires, subjectivities, markets and consumers avid by the newness (Deleuze, 1992) .

In deleuzeanistics tracks, the society of control transforms consumption into a “password” of belonging in order to be “inside”. Nowadays, there is no longer the dialectic between “outside” and “inside” (Hardt & Negri, 2001) . The notion of consumption implodes the separations between public and private. Everything is unified and diffuse, so it’s complex to distinguish inside and outside. It is also watching the transformation of the individual into an indebted person, living in an eternal consumerist moratorium of brands and new lifestyles (ways of being), produced by the logic of the global market consumption. As well represented in the context of the advertising market and the media, where infinite ways of being are created and deconstructed, branding moldings that operates as liquid identities, ephemeral, revocable and flexible in the light of the production of a permanent consumption, in an eternal process of becoming.

This way, having the “green consumption” as a division, the identity logic mirrors the production of “subjectivity kits” in the environmental sphere, under the aegis of the rhizomatic capitalism, reflecting “ecologically correct” ways of being, modeled and publicized in market networks, through the media and advertising discourse that constitute images and aesthetic appeals of social and environmental values as subjective production. Indeed, these kits are marketing models emptied of an ethical sense, but that disguise the idea of nature-commodity.

This “green” lifestyle produtilizated and liquefied endorse the value of the individual in the consumer society as a “human having” which spectularizates the image (and production) of a “politically correct subjectivity” in tune with social and environmental issues, but that professes empty actions and discourses of the conception of sustainability (Tavares et al., 2015) .

In this paradoxical process of subjectivity, the “human having” semioticizes their identity strategy as a marketing modeling, legitimized by the media and advertising with an “ethical veneer” but in an aesthetic way. Through a kit, this is sold, consumed (and then discarded) on the shelves of the market: a multicolored “green” kit, in constant deconstruction.

7. The “Green Consumption” in Brazil in Focus: Some Examples of Green Advertising

To illustrate the concepts explored in this article, six examples were selected, including newspaper articles and advertisements served in Veja and Exame magazines, in the year of 2015 in Brazil, with the aim of punctuate a brief scenario of “green consumption” in the Brazilian market.

An environmentally friendly consumer turns into a producer of sustainable and shared energy. With this proposal, the Italian Enel produces the sense of a “subjectivity kit” in revealing and proposing the transformation of the consumer individual in a “responsible energy producer”, according to the image of Figure 1. In the light of the notion of liquid sustainability, the article in Exame Magazine in the Exame Sustainability Guide, emphasizes the idea that the user is not only subject, but becomes an object of consumption; one “green” market modeling that expresses the logic of an Ecopower aestheticized as a commodity (energy as a product, generated and shared by the consumer) unique on the market (Revista Exame, 2015b) .

This can be seen in the article’s proposal to reassert that the fact that the consumers may produce their own energy and transfer the surplus to ENEL is a worry that the Italian company has with sustainability, but the truth is that the company is mainly interested in the profit increase. From this position―which reflects the dynamics of the rhizomatic capitalism (a kind of sophistication of the

integrated world capitalism)―the company ratifies this direction when it asserts that: “The new technologies will change the way the clients relate with the

Figure 1. Enel company article. Source: Revista Exame, 2015b .

company, which will not be the only one that generates and purchases energy”. The company suggests new ways of relationship with its stakeholders that do not think about the high consumption of energy but about the processes that encourage even more the increase of the production. This position reveals a dessymbolization of the locus of the nature, which takes the leading role in encouraging its own objectification and submission to the capital logic, liquefying to the interest of the market.

The advertisement of the mirror brand Guardian, as shown in Figure 2, served in Veja magazine, semioticizes the discourse of market modeling of the consumption of appearances. This piece brings the assertion that the sold product is a “perfection” of image and also brings, with none confirmation, the expression. “Ecologically correct”. This ecological appeal can be characterized in this

example as green washing (Revista, 2015b) , considering that the advertising piece does not bring any other element in its art that enlarges the conception of what,

Figure 2. Guardian mirror Ad. Source: Revista, 2015b .

within the company’s scope, is “ecologically correct”. Besides this loose expression, all the other sentences in the advertising are there to emphasize the product’s qualities that are not linked to its design as “green” product. Thus, we can observe the use of the ecological argument within the conception of the rhizomatic capitalism that produtilizes the nature through an environmental approach.

The featured article published in Exame magazine: “Ripped clothes? Patagonia repairs for free” publicizes the brand of goods manufacturer Patagonia, “responsible consumption icon”, as an anti-consumerist flag, as shown in Figure 3. The article, which is partially illustrated in the figure below, shows that although the brand creates an action with the intention to encourage the decrease of the

consumption in a Black Friday advertising through the disclosure of a campaign called “Don’t buy this jacket”, the sales greatly increased. This evidence alone

Figure 3. Patagonia company article. Source: Revista Exame, 2015a .

shows the contradiction of a brand that calls itself “anti-consumerist”. According to the Patagonia’s public engagement VP, the company’s owners “are in this business to use it as a transformation tool of the environment”. This assertion reflects logic of encouragement to the shaping of brand models based on new “ways of being green” much more fluid and rooted to the consumption, essentially to the detriment of the need of thinking about the nature matter.

To disseminate the ecological and responsible practices, according to the report, the company has partnered with the retail giant Walmart. What can be seen, in addition to the media as an agency of enunciation device, is the contradiction between reducing consumption and consumerism. Values sound different but sew the mark modeling of ambiguity in this example (Revista Exame, 2015a) .

The advertising piece below brings the conception of a bank that is more than just a bank. A financial institution is equally protagonist of clean energy production “that helps to move Brazil in the search of a better future for all”. The Citi publicity, as shown in Figure 4, published in Veja magazine, deterritorializes the bank sphere as business and, under the aegis of the rhizomatic capital, expands and links its brand to the grip of an empty environmental responsibility: one

spectacularization strategy of the conception of sustainability as brand of a “green consumption”, which is varnished with an ethical purpose. An aesthetic

Figure 4. Citi bank Ad. Source: Revista, 2015f .

approach adopted by the bank to obtain more profits now also in the business of renewable energy (Revista, 2015f) .

Furthermore, the life style reinforced in the advertising is mentioned by Deleuze & Guattari (1995) when they cover the model of social and cultural model previously standardized, which follows rules and brand models created, produced and reproduced by the market itself to meet its capitalist aspirations (Pelbart, 2003) . Accordingly, the analyzed advertising can be creating a movement that reinforces the “liquid” identities of the post-modernity that reveal “ways of being”. Sibilia (2002) regulated by the production of “subjectivity kits” that shape according to the need of each market. Rolnik (2000) , because it ends up endorsing the logic of the consumption for the consumption itself, as it can be observed in the following sentence: “Did you know that energy of a bank is helping to move Brazil”.

In the advertising below, the Catholic Church is presented with a new “way of being”: the “green gospel”. In order to promote the “Eco-faith” in Brazil, the Veja magazine shows the report that associates the Christian religion to environmental issues, capitalizing an image of Eco-power, as seen in Figure 5. Even

with all the contradiction between faith and science, church wants its faithful (consumers) to recognize that it has “environmental awareness” and is alert and

Figure 5. Green gospel article. Source: Revista, 2015c .

concerned about this important and current global issue (Revista, 2015c) .

Accordingly, it can be interpreted that, within the context of the consumption society that has the liquid modernity as background (Bauman, 2001) , the issue of the nature, in this article, links religion to the matter of sustainability, because it reinforces the production and maintenance of new “ways of being” as much more fluid, mutable and ephemeral subjectivity kits from brand models that leads the consumer to identify itself with the product (in this case, the religion) for the possibility of obtaining any kind of advantage or power with the association of the exploration of the environmental theme to the interest of the rhizomatic capitalism (Pelbart, 2003) . According to the advertising, the Catholic Church incorporates and “sells” a “green” brand model that expresses an ecopower strategy capable of “linking” the church to the “ecologically correct” wave.

The advertisement of the New Hyundai i30 brand, as shown in Figure 6, posted on Veja magazine, appropriates nature as an object of consumption, aestheticized as a “green brand”, through the speech of an ecological simulacrum through aesthetic appeals of environmental values that shows the car inspired by the “most perfect forms of nature”. Thus, the “produtilization” of nature is crafted,

semiotically, to influence the consumer who is sensitive and values the environmental approach (Revista, 2015a) . Within this logic, which the product is

Figure 6. New hyundai i30 Ad. Source: Revista, 2015a .

presented on a rhizomatic, plural, fragmented and schizophrenic way, because the environmental argument is directed to the profit logic, which can be inferred in the contradictory sentence: “inspired in the most perfect forms of nature”, when the truth is that there is no explanation of why the product is linked to the nature.

The Toyota advertising (Figure 7) brings a sentence carried with emotion,

overstatement and irrelevance as its title: “Contributing to a more sustainable country”. This assertion makes appeals that call the attention of the reader

Figure 7. Toyota Brasil―contributing to a more sustainable country. Source: Revista, 2015g .

(consumer) to specific attributes of the company’s image to detriment of the product itself. It is possible that this choice may have been made in order to mask important information about the sustainability matter in the production process. This stylistic resource shows the use of an indirect or implicit speech that is possibly chosen to insert the ecological speech in other contexts other than the sale of the product, as it is possible to observe in the advertising message that evidences environmental actions that were created by the company. The brand takes a position as holder of what will be better for the nature under the auspices of the Liquid Modernity (Bauman, 2001) .

Regarding the environmental issue, the Toyota advertising only mentions on a much vague way the brand’s environmental projects, but it does not bring information about what this number represents from the total area impacted by the company’s production.

Figure 8, which illustrates the advertising of the brand Deca, represents a good example of the liquid sustainability dynamics when building messages that subjugate the nature to the utilitarian logic. This happens because it is presented a product characterized as “ecological” because it guarantees certain level of water saving, but that emphasizes much more the design issue, benefit that reflects much more the interests of the consumers and of the company than the issues related to the need of sustainable development. In all the advertising, the nature issue is put as a background, as it is possible to observe in the following sentence: “With these Deca products, you save up to 100,000 thousand litters of water by year and also makes your home more beautiful” (Revista, 2015e) . Accordingly, there is an incentive to think about the nature issues, factor that reinforces the argument supported in this essay of the stimulation to the green consumption that reveals the shaping of new “ways of being” Sibilia (2002) that reflect characteristics of fragmented identities and of the conception of the aesthetics of the “human having” to the detriment of the human being.

Figure 9 presents the article “Our daily organic” (“O orgâniconosso de cadadia”) (Revista, 2015d) , which portraits the movement of the consumption of organic products linked to a faith component in the food fads, reflecting the condition of brand model. “In the article, it was identified that the religious dogmas and the radicalism in the food habits use behavior standards to make the persons

feel themselves as part of a group and be part of something that will make them better human beings” (Alan Levinovitz, professor and researcher of James

Figure 8. There are many reasons to save water. That is why Deca has more than 300 solutions. Source: Revista, 2015e .

Madison University, Virginia, USA, in interview to Veja magazine). Complementing this brand strategy, it is also observed how the nature is aestheticized in this case, according to Tavares, Irving, & Vargas (2013: p. 8) , “the notion of nature as capitalizable refers to the idea of a better life, through the differential of an image built by the so-called green consumption, as attitude of doing good, of acting politically and ecologically correct”. Accordingly, the Ecopower is established, in which the capital power of the media influences the consumers that are subordinated to a production process of subjectivity, besides being manipulated

Figure 9. Our daily organic. Source: Revista, 2015d .

by the control and consumption society.

8. Final Considerations

From being to “human having”. From a fixed identity to a mobile, plural and ambivalent condition, in which the meaning of “culture-commodity” reflects the subjectivity as a market process. In the contextures and metamorphoses of the market, the “human having” is presented as a self-deformed modeling, sometimes configuring, sometimes being deconstructed in “subjectivity kits” plasticized by consumption.

These “subjectivity kits” depict the ways of being brokered by the corporate capital and the media capital, for sale on market shelves. An insatiable and eager for changes market transforms people into commodity and commodity in people as well as seeks to extend their spaces and territories. New contours amplify the market consumption and its variations, like the case of “green consumption” in Brazil, the consumption of nature through a “liquefied sustainability”, which expands as branding.

The conception of the logic of a sustainability that is “liquid” comes to constitute a brand to be appropriated by different social actors, especially by corporations and the media, which acts as segmentarity lines in the production of subjectivity. In the contextures of a rhizomatic capitalism, which is connectionist, intangible and natural, the idea of a “liquefied” sustainability deterritorializes as an “empty discourse”: solution for a better world for everything and everyone, from the perverse relationship between consumption and capital, as this also becomes liquefied and metamorphosed in market networks in the global society of control context, to the production of consumption of nature.

The rhizomatic capitalism leads to the commodification of life (and the singling processes of construction of subjectivity) and from all walks of existence (where nothing escapes), especially the idea of the transformation of nature in market value. The schizophrenic mobility of the capital and the production of new desires, in an immaterial and connectionist way, imply in the incessant production of new values, in the continuous creation of authentic markets and new ways of being as a way of plasticizing and publicizing the sense of nature as a sign-commodity, from a permanently oxygenated and endless movement (“nature-natured/nature-naturing”), through agencies of enunciation as the effort of environmental marketing, the social and environmental responsibility strategy and the media coverage of the “green speech” produced by both companies and the media, as identified in an exploratory manner and through qualitative research, in journalistic reports and ads in the year of 2015, in the selected magazines (Veja and Exame).

These movements position the issue of sustainability as a capitalizable concept (“Nature, Inc.”), referring to the idea of a better life by means of the differential that has been internalized by the image of the “green consumption” as a media behavior of doing good in society. Thus, all social actors involved and empowered in the process of consumption legitimize the devices of power-knowledge in the ordination of an Ecopower, a circulating power and capital in which all influence, control, produce and consume each other, in different plateaus of the market, through singling processes of subjectivity production.

In the light of this strategy, in summary, desires, images, attitudes, ways of being and subjectivities are produced. Mostly, in the tension built from the publicness and creation of “subjectivity kits”, which semioticizes and spectularizes the topic of green consumption in Brazil, such as: the condition of “civic responsibility” (individuals, companies and the media), of the production of an “environmental awareness”, of the “eco-friendly behave” and practices and the stamps of “eco and economic efficiency”, promoted by the processes of environmental marketing and green business, of the responsible consumption polices, natural resources, of social and environmental responsibility policies and practices and ecological-economic discourse conveyed by the media/advertising as discursive values to the creation and production of pret-à-porter identities in the market condition of this consumption, and more: from a complex and endless set of issues on economic, social and environmental questions, aestheticized by the illusion of a better life, conveyed in a spectacularized and “ecologically correct” way by the media and Brazilian companies, reaffirming the concept of “liquid sustainability” (as a constant process of subjectivation), which is spread through empty speeches and unsustainable consumption, in the context of the rhizomatic capitalism, as identified in the documentary survey conducted in Veja and Exame magazines, considering the months from January to December of 2015.

From the strategies of this capitalism and of the agencies of enunciation, the idea of “liquid sustainability” is configured, having the logic of a world society control as backdrop, producing “green consumption” as a new social order and nature as a brand/market brand, whose ethics is revealed as a simulacrum, in a narrowly aesthetic logic: a “made-up” speech.

Thus, consumption (and its “green aspect”) develops in the condition of a capitalistic culture, to the creation of identities, brands, products, services, speeches and environmentally responsible actions focused on the spectacle of the quality of life and well-being of individuals and society, but singling out a “way of being green” that positions and reverberates nature as a value brand and a product to be consumed in the “market society”, thus, unveils the plastic condition of a liquid nature, which semioticizes one modeling market of the consumption of appearances, a true green washing, social washing or green social washing.

The relations between consumption, subjectivity, capital and nature are articulated through the strategy of the “liquid sustainability”, in the capture and creation of new values and in the expansionist kaleidoscope of new consumer markets, such as the “green consumption” and the fluid and (dis)continuous production of identities through multiple and infinite identity axis. An unbearable lightness of having and the “subjectivity kits”―everlasting that sticks, peel off and contradict the schizophrenic generation of ways of being, fed back by the strategic fluidity of the rhizomatic capitalism in the Brazilian market.

Thus, this research contributes to a critical reflection on the theme of the consumption of nature through the perspective of environmental communication.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Tavares, F. , Silva, A. , Ferreira, G. , Tavares, M. and de Miranda, R. (2017) The “Green Consumption” and the Rhizomatic Capital Strategy: Ads and Reports in the Brazilian Media. Advances in Applied Sociology, 7, 35-63. doi: 10.4236/aasoci.2017.72003.


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