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  • Thumbnail for Spotify: A New Mask for an Old Face?
    Spotify: A New Mask for an Old Face? by Kwo, Sean

    The most recent innovations in the music industry that have been gaining attention are streaming services. Spotify is one such service that has garnered much media attention. In my thesis I question just how innovative this service is by comparing Spotify with its historical precedents. In doing so, I reveal that many aspects of Spotify continue patterns that have persisted for many years. However, there are truly innovative aspects of the service as well. Still, rather than subscribing to a technological determinism, I seek to emphasize the human agents that wield technologies and note these agents' susceptibility to corruption and monopolistic practices.

  • Thumbnail for Refocusing on the family
    Refocusing on the family by Kwo, Sean

    Focus on the Family describes itself as a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive. The Colorado Springs-based nonprofit was founded by James Dobson in 1977 and has since passed on leadership to Jim Daly as of 2005. The organization claims to promote morals and values that are grounded in timeless, biblical principles. Yet, as Focus has continued to respond to new cultural needs, their discourse has had to adjust to stay relevant. I contend that Dobson’s discourse, which invented and defended an ideal “traditional” family, has become largely irrelevant to Focus’s constituents and Americans at large, but that in continuing the Focus legacy, Daly has had to creatively reinterpret both Focus’s and Dobson’s missions in his efforts to validate his own. I draw on Eliade’s theory of universal patterns to describe Dobson’s mission and Jonathan Z. Smith’s ideas about canon and exegetical ingenuity to show how Daly has to reinterpret his predecessors in order to simultaneously follow tradition and be innovative. Finally, I draw on the ideas of Talal Asad to show that the fluidity of Focus does not deny that it is a cultural unity, but rather that Focus’s struggle to balance contradictions presupposes a unity that, while imperfect, is uniquely Focus’s. Focus, like all cultural entities, is working to adapt tradition to modern condition, a process without an end in sight.