The Ideology Of Disciplinarity Educational Spaces In The American Horrorfilm


The article analyzes the features of the model of discipline formed in the system of modern Western education, the image of which makes up one of the leading storylines in American horror films. Visual stereotypes of this genre reveal the peculiarities of the ideological order of the American education system and the state in relation to the younger generation. It is established that adolescent and youth fears are formed due to the contradiction between individual expectations and adult assessments of abilities, expediency and effectiveness of children's actions. Fears are a logical continuation of the historically formed rigid disciplinary model of socialization of young people, which is strongly attached to the democratic image. It is the educational discipline that comprises the main content of both horizontal and vertical social connections and is the leading stratification training of all living generations. Therefore, the image of American education, created in horror films, embodies the social distrust of young people to the experience of classical culture and traditions of its broadcast. And biotic motives and fear for one's life form the basis of such social management. The entertaining discourse of American horror films popularizes the trends transformation of the disciplinary education system, based on the transmission of specialized knowledge, skills and competences, into the sphere of organization and ideological management of leisure.

Keywords: American horror filmdisciplinaryideologyeducationsocializationfear


The idea of social harmony historically acted as a "guiding star" of almost all political regimes, testing current models of social governance to effectively implement strategies to justify and achieve an effective illusion. At the same time, the political mechanism that was most organically able to justify and implement the ideologically formative idea of discipline, which was the most effective for civilization, which uses four main methods: it builds tables; prescribes motions; forces you to exercise; finally, uses "tactics" ( Foucault, 1999) to achieve the strength to become a force, in institutional and everyday practices of all types of social interaction. Improving models of political regulation of social relations is inextricably linked to solving a fundamental managerial and communicative problem –the creation of a hierarchical space that perceives the growing “mechanics of power” ( Foucault, 1999) as a natural result of its social evolution. The history of civilization has proved irrefutably that the most organic, comprehensive and effective institution allowing the authorities to discipline the natural forms was the system of education and education of future generations of citizens, for which the formation of knowledge, skills and abilities is realized through permanent coercion and exercises. It is significant that specialized and professional-oriented knowledge, which required significant intellectual, emotional and physical efforts of students, in the light of the previously stated higher goal, inevitably fade into the background, giving their place to the third-largest range of communication skills designed to serve the cash system of social ranks. Education, fulfilling such a significant social order, has succeeded in finding and testing political methods and methods of forming an adequate and moderately socially active individual who is an element of the power hierarchical system. At the same time, the human world has continuously generated new forms of unconscious compensation for those traditional disciplinary practices that have systematically ignored the existential needs of the individual. One of the current strategies of its socialization was the genre diversity of modern visual culture. Cinematic forms of visualization of basic human needs, which have special suitability in practice in critical pedagogy were the most popular in the philistine space ( Walker, 2016).

The methods of disciplinary coercion and visibility tested by pedagogy, have acquired a new sound in the context of the media age, visualizing the social and political technologies relevant to the authorities coercion. Their mission is to form and unconsciously anchor the emotional corridor of the individual's loyalty, within which the spectrum of his behavioral reactions would always remain safe, predictable and manageable at maximum level. In the 20th and early 21st century it was the tradition of American horror films that formed the ideological strategy of visualization of educational technologies of coercion, giving them leisure, entertainment, but from this even more disciplinary character.

Problem Statement

The article is devoted to the consideration of ideological strategies for visualizing classical educational technologies of coercion, produced and implemented in the tradition of American horror films, which purposefully transforms and sublimates them disciplinary potential in leisure and entertainment forms.

Research Questions

The article will address four main provisions that reveal the main problem field of the stated topic:

  • visualization of children, adolescent and youth fears arising in the process of search and learning;

  • a model of rank communication based on the relationship between students, teachers, parents and government officials;

  • adolescents attitudes towards social institutions in the process of school socialization;

  • modern transformation of the image of education as a socially significant activity in leisure and entertainment forms.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to analyze the specifics of ideological attitudes presented in the disciplinary educational spaces of Western civilization on the material of the tradition of American horror films.

Research Methods

Civilization has been particularly successful in shaping a tradition of discipline based on production, the imposition and generational transmission of corporal and emotional prohibitions and restrictions. At the same time, the understanding of these practices becomes the subject of comprehensive humanitarian study only in the 20th and early 21st century. The pioneer in these studies was the French philosopher M. Foucault, who in the work "Overseeing and Punishing" ( Foucault, 1999) introduced both, the very concept of "discipline" and carried out a detailed analysis of the features of the operation of disciplinary spaces, represented by the body of leading repressive social institutions: education, medicine and the prison system. By carrying out a comprehensive study of Western society, Foucault creates an original methodology of his scientific interpretation, which combines structuralist methods, phenomenology, psychoanalysis and hermeneutics. This allows him to establish the specifics of the social phenomena studied, to identify significant signs of institutional discipline and to identify the peculiarities of its implementation in these social spaces. Of course, for this study, the generalizations of the French philosopher have an immutable importance, allowing to identify the most important ideological attitudes traditionally implemented by the authorities in educational spaces. In addition, it provides an opportunity to understand the nature of the popularity of American horror films, which consistently visualize the initiation dramas of the younger generation, immersed in educational discipline. Fouceau's methodological work on the need is accompanied by a set of ideas presented by the Western existential tradition, which in the context of consideration of individual and social conflicts of the 20th and early 21st centuries was able to comprehensively consider the fundamental dichotomy "Myself" - " The Other" underlying the disciplinary authority.

Psychoanalytic methods of studying sociocultural reality, introduced by ( Freud, 2000), which for decades defined strategies for the ideological paradigms of the development of disciplinary spaces, are productive for the study. It is these methods that have actually been the ideological linchpin of the development of all Western culture and especially the tradition of American horror films for a century. Particularly valuable is the methodological strategy of ( Jung & Foucault, 2007), which allows to determine the mechanisms of the formation of discipline as a consequence of the growing contradiction between the archetypal model of the development of consciousness and social forms of its implementation.

The study of disciplinary is productively refracted in a set of works dedicated to the study of trends in the development of consumer society in the sociology and psychology of mass behaviour Jameson ( 1991) based on the texts of M. Foucault and psychoanalytic scientific strategies, found that disciplinarity in modern society has changed after society itself and required a special tool for understanding the processes of its transformation. Postmodernism is one of its logical results, in which culture gradually splinters with the economy and produces new sociocultural standards, certainly painted in political tones. Therefore, art and cinema become key tools in social engineering, programming the daily life of individuals and correcting their existential attitudes.

To uncover the essence of such processes, we should turn to the aesthetic and cinematic generalizations of a number of Western researchers ( Freeman, 2015; Kawin, 2012; Lawrence, 2016; Och, 2015; Staiger, 2015; Scull & Malik, 2019), exploring various aspects of the functioning of artistic images of American horror films in modern popular culture. At the same time, the study of the ideology of discipline of educational spaces in cinema and, in particular, in the tradition of American horror films is still presented extremely fragmentary ( Cole & Bradley, 2016; Walker, 2016). This fact only indicates the emergence of a new, interdisciplinary direction, which could be labelled as "pedagogy of cinema". Baranov and Penzin ( 2005), who published the manual "Film in educational work with young students" are among the most notable domestic researchers in this direction.

Based on the above, it can be concluded that the given review of methodological strategies allows to implement a full study of the ideology of discipline of educational spaces in American horror films.


American horror films "are a unique visual material for understanding the technology of creating and functioning images of evil in popular culture" ( Malenko & Nekita, 2018a, p. 132) and therefore consistently visualize children and teenage fears, including the inability to know the world or the possibility of obtaining results in the process that run counter to the prevailing model of its interpretation, which could discredit or level fragments of social reality. Fear and horror are a natural consequence of the rigid disciplinary model of youth socialization on which the American education system is based, so it "inevitably leads to conflict for the socialized person" ( Handel, 2006, p.10). It is characterized by the formation of communicative competencies that dominate over the cognitive models of the world. As a result, the search potential of the consciousness of adolescents and young people is sublimated in competitive communication scenarios and the formation of a scientific worldview ceases to be a socially significant priority. Therefore, the American schoolboy is an example of the everyday worldview, composed of subjective opinions, stereotypes of corporate and territorial ideologues.

Hollywood "horrible" film production is an effective training of the formation and testing of a set of social competences, allowing young people to form a consistent, ideological idea of the structure, mechanism of functioning, mechanisms fundamental values of the dominant social system and propaganda scenarios to justify it. It is based on the reproduction of the rigid models of hierarchical role-playing interaction typical of educational and institutional spaces in the United States, forming an everyday establishment about the boundaries of the permissible and forbidden. The subjects of the educational process are "coded [by him-A. N.] from all sides" ( Cole & Bradley, 2016) and are only declaratively equal in their communicative status, but manifest typical complexes of closed age, territorial and professional groups. Therefore, they only in formal communicative scenarios follow the prescribed social norms, but actually implement corporate ideology and morality, which fully reproduce the disciplinary principles of intragroup and generational rank competition.

American horror films present the generational conflict as a systemic social principle representing relationships that previously seemed "appalling and are now an integral part of the status quo" ( Och, 2015, p. 195). Emerging in the local contradictions of the relationships of parents and children, teachers and students, it naturally develops into a system of global distrust of the younger generation in relation to the experience of predecessors, presented by the current system of social institutions. Teenagers and young people assimilate the essence of institutional interaction as a continuous competition for the limitless dominance of an institution throughout the social space. The loss of competitive advantage by the institution turns its adherents into atomic subjects of communication, whose status discredits the very idea of institutional interaction. The logical result of this model of educational socialization is the installation of young people on the unconditional disposition of institutional experience, which provokes an escalation of fear of the formal system of institutions, personified by senior generations.

The deep crisis of rationalism and the escalation of common distrust of science not only provoked the transformation of the education system, but also significantly deformed the spiritual and moral foundations of human civilization. Knowledge, professional skills and competencies are no longer the indicators of the effectiveness of the pedagogic and educational process, which not only broadcast a set of specialized information, but also acted as the main strategy of transmission This situation has greatly exacerbated the traditional generational conflict, but the suspense technologies of American horror films have eliminated these contradictions, implemented an alternative official fictional, simulated-game space of social communication, which is presented as an "inevitable journey" into the chronotops of fear and horror ( Kawin, 2012). Hollywood has overhauled the classic models of education, defiantly replacing the disciplinary socialization of the consumer and entertainment forms of leisure activities of the younger generation, which "have become ubiquitous and influential in contemporary culture" ( Scull & Malik, 2019, p. 3).


Visualizing teenage and youth fears in an American horror film reveals the ambiguity of the gnosological and moral evolution of the younger generation. It is associated with a growing contradiction between individual expectations, the results of cognitive activity of young people and adult assessments of practicality and individual abilities of the younger generation. These disciplinary frameworks have a significant impact on the content and forms of pedagogic and educational processes. The dominant generation in the person of teachers, parents and representatives of the authorities extremely formalizes educational communication, forcibly withering from it all interpersonal and subjective motives. That's why the image of high school in Hollywood horror movies is portrayed as hell. "This myth […] сonfirms teens' anxiety about school, presenting this space as a literal hell populated by demons, vampires and werewolves chasing their vulnerable teenage victims" ( Lawrence, 2016, p. 169).

The rank training carried out by the American terrible film production only perpetuates the disciplinary nature of generational communication, and the discipline itself turns into the only content of horizontal and vertical social connections. Such communication tragically loses its existential character and is limited only is limited exclusively to the functions of job descriptions. As a result, it is American horror films that should "be interpreted in modern political and cultural contexts" ( Freeman, 2015, p. 107), consistently fulfilling the mission of propaganda and reproduction of modeling, professionally oriented communication of generations, make a decisive contribution to the expanded reproduction of the society of the "American dream" as the actual ideal of modern civilization.

The system of universal social distrust, played by the tradition of Hollywood horror films, is not positioned as a form of social deviation, but represents the civilizational trend of American society. It was originally shaped by the oblivion and destruction of the alternative cultural experience, the colonial and post-colonial denial of the "voice of reason" ( Malenko & Nekita, 2018b). American cinematic horror culture persistently promotes biotic motives as the most effective social communication strategies, and the introduction of the idea of fear into the communicative space forms a system of effective social management. Hollywood's ideology of biotic terror neutralizes cultural superstructure and destroys individual creativity as a fundamental principle of classical culture.

The entertaining nature of educational socialization in the consumer society forms a complex of inferiority and fear, due to unconscious feelings of non-conformity of models of individual and generational socialization to disciplinary This complex is institutionalized in the escalation of leisure forms of consumption of space and time, which finally destroy education and activity as civilizational forms of receiving, testing and broadcasting cultural experiences. The American horror film consistently shapes and ideologically enshrines behind these disciplinary spaces an image incompatible with the freedom of the territories of fear, horror, violence and cruelty, which is still “not equivalent to the experiences of violence in real world” ( Staiger, 2015). This situation continuously generates aggression and terror as adjacent scenarios for the realization of the inferiority complex of the younger generation, which form the ideological basis of the institutional construction of modern totalitarian power.


The reported study was funded by THE RFBR according to the research project No. 18-011-00129.


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26 August 2020

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Educational strategies, educational policy, teacher training, moral purpose of education, social purpose of education

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Nekita, A. G., & Malenko, S. A. (2020). The Ideology Of Disciplinarity Educational Spaces In The American Horrorfilm. In S. Alexander Glebovich (Ed.), Pedagogical Education - History, Present Time, Perspectives, vol 87. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 426-432). European Publisher.