Book Review: The Attack of the Blob: Hannah Arendt’s Concept of the Social


  • Brian Knutson


Introduction:  In The Attack of the Blob, Hanna Fenichel Pitkin, professor emerita of political science at the University of California, Berkeley presents us a reading of Hannah Arendt’s concept of the social. Pitkin investigates and critiques the «social» as Arendt’s «problematic concept», in a manner this reader finds most suited to our contemporary consumer society. The cliched, horror-fantasy quality of 1950s kitsch, science-fiction films some how resonates with the consumptive appetites of our late, capitalist economy at the close of the 1990s. The emotional sentiment evoked with the word «social» seems strangely similar to that cliched, horror-fantasy quality. The infant appetites of 1950s mass society nurture the growth and evolution into the present. But what kind of society are we? What kind of social are we becoming? Pitkin chose the Paramount Pictures film, The Blob (1958) from which to take her title and her metaphoric inspiration, however she supplies an extensive listing of 1950s genre films (note 4, pg 285), to help illustrate the point. The film screen imagery of the monstrous blob that drips and coats, permeates and consumes the innocent victims and comes from outerspace, from some place «other», illustrates a most peculiar human quality, one that forms the root of the «problematic» topic at hand: the capacity to mystify the external objective world. An objective world which includes the social.


How to Cite

Knutson, B. (2014). Book Review: The Attack of the Blob: Hannah Arendt’s Concept of the Social. Analytic Teaching, 20(2). Retrieved from




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