The space between social relations (structural elements such as gender, race and age) and social relationships (personal, practical demonstrations of everyday life as it’s applied in reality) is one of immense intrigue, as it’s here that, as media scholar John Fiske identifies, “compliance or contestation is negotiated… these spaces constitute the terrain where popular culture is most active”. Indeed, what occurs in this area is quite remarkable and mesmerising, as individuals must decide whether to pursue their own sense of self in spite of the body of social relations that have been laid out for them, or abandon such pursuits in exchange for the comfort that appears to those willing to comply to the stereotypes set out by the social relations of that time. There’s often a stigma associated with social relations since, as Fiske puts it, those ‘conforming’ to the “roles and identities provided for them” are “producing nothing for themselves”, and it’s here that criticism can be directed towards Fiske’s viewpoint. If the social relations of the time are ones that appeal to a member of a certain race, age or gender, then how are they acquiring no self-fulfilment by synchronising themselves with such values? Since its inaugural episode in 1966, TV game show New Newlywed Game has often rewarded the couple that ‘best conforms to our ideological norms’. If both members of this couple are more than content with the roles their society has provided and strongly encouraged them to take, then how can they be seen as weak and undetermined? It is here that Fiske exhibits gross oversight, as the content of social relations is subject to change, and not something that should be rebelled against nonsensically.
Fiske, “Popular Culture”. 2015. Fiske, “Popular Culture”. [ONLINE] Available at: http://faculty.washington.edu/cbehler/teaching/coursenotes/Texts/fiskepopcult.html. [Accessed 10 March 2015].
Originally published on davidzita.net on 18th March, 2015