<trp-post-container data-trp-post-id='26696'>Plaire and Touch, the last test from Gilles Lipovetsky maintenance cross

Gilles, you are a philosopher and sociologist, and have just published Pleaire et Toucher, essay on the Society of Seduction published by Gallimard. Seduction has been reviled for millennia. What has changed?

The desire to please and seductive behaviour (adornment, cosmetics, gifts, winking and flirting) seem in many ways timeless, ever since species first reproduced sexually. Nevertheless, liberal hypermodernity marks a major break in this multimillennial history, as the ethos of seduction and the supremacy of its mechanisms become so pervasive in our societies. Here we are, for the first time, in a society of seduction, where the rule of 'please and touch' is widespread. There are several reasons for this: firstly, we are in a consumer society that is refocused on the individual, in which consumers are less concerned with the image they project - even if they still are to some extent - than with what they feel. It's no longer the possession of a beautiful object that sets you apart, but a search for pleasure and sensation. Consumers want to love; their relationship with the world is 'emotional'; the relationship with others has declined in favour of the relationship with oneself; consumption is more 'intimate'; we want to live 'here and now'. Secondly, the consumer society generates a capitalism of seduction that sustains this dynamic. And this capitalism has no choice. In the past, brands had to produce, as Ford did, to meet demand, but today the paradigm has been reversed and there is too much supply. So we have to seduce and please; that's why capitalism has incorporated what used to be art into its operations. This is clearly seen in the links between luxury and art.

Coow is this seduction expressed?

In the 50s, seduction was all about novelty and technology. Today, it's through the experiential, which has conquered every area of our culture: from hotels to city centres, from shops to design objects, from the development of live concerts to the way information is processed on news channels, everything must create a resonance, an emotional vibration, and not just a functional one. Museums are creating showy, hyper-seductive architectural envelopes (see the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Philharmonie, the Guggenheim Bilbao, the Fondation Louis Vuitton...): a far cry from the cold, anonymous, functional skyscrapers of the Chicago School. Emotion prevails over rationality, and this has become the obligatory tool for selling.

What impact will this have on brands?

The Society of Seduction faces a number of challenges: first and foremost ecological, but also political and cultural. But what is in the offing is the conjunction of the ecological imperative and the imperative of seduction, not least because the globalised competitive society cannot escape strategies of seduction. What's more, from a cultural - and even political - point of view, we can't allow our society to be solely concerned with Pleasing and Touching; there's more to life than that. And it's not the capitalism of seduction that will be able to change things in this area; we need to look to other institutions like schools, which have a key role to play in educating people to a certain maturity with regard to consumption and seduction. That's why I'm arguing for an 'enriched seduction', one that is 'augmented', beautiful and enriching. This can also be the challenge for brands, which guide taste and must play a civic role.

Interview by Florence Hussenot - Adwise

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