Culture jamming is the act of transforming existing mass media to produce negative commentary about itself, using the original medium's communication method. It is a form of public activism which is generally in opposition to commercialism, and the vectors of corporate image. The aim of culture jamming is to create a contrast between corporate image and the realities of the corporation. This is done symbolically, with the "detournement" of pop iconography.

It is based on the idea that advertising is little more than propaganda for established interests, and that there is a lack of an available means for alternative expression in industrialized nations. Culture jamming is a resistance movement to the hegemony of popular culture, based on the ideas of "guerrilla communication".

Culture jamming's intent differs from that of artistic appropriation (which is done for art's sake) and vandalism (where destruction or defacement is the primary goal), although its results are not always so easily distinguishable.


Coined by the collage band Negativland on its release JamCon '84, the phrase "culture jamming" comes from the idea of radio jamming: that public frequencies can be pirated and subverted for independent communication, or to disrupt dominant frequencies. The Situationist International first made the comparison to radio jamming in 1968, when it proposed the use of guerrilla communication within mass media to sow confusion within the dominant culture. It is also thought that the phrase might, in part, come from the 1967 episode of The Prisoner, "It's Your Funeral", which featured subversives calling themselves 'Jammers', who were attempting to disrupt the Orwellian dystopia in which the series takes place.

Culture Jamming has roots in the German concept of spass guerilla and in the Situationist International. Techniques of culture jamming include adbusting, performance art, graffiti, flash mobs and hacktivism (such as cybersquatting).

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