alienation effect


Media Studies

  • noun in Marxist theory, the practice of using alienating techniques such as unsettling and unnatural lighting effects, or music to force an audience to develop a critical attitude to what they are seeing


  • (German: Verfremdungseffekt) The term coined by BertoltBrecht for his technique of deliberately limiting the degreeto which both actors and audience identify with the drama. Brecht'sintention was to jolt the sensibilities of all concerned in orderto sharpen their objectivity and awareness. He achieved this alienationeffect in various ways, including the use of third person or past-tensenarrative, spoken stage directions, unusual or subversive stage design,as well as the use of songs, placards, etc. One common device wasfor an actor to step out of character during a scene to address theaudience.