Class Divisions in Serial Television by Sieglinde Lemke, Wibke Schniedermann

By Sieglinde Lemke, Wibke Schniedermann

This publication brings the emergent curiosity in social type and inequality to the sector of tv reports. It finds how the hot visibility of sophistication issues in serial tv features aesthetically and examines the cultural type politics articulated in those programmes. This ground-breaking quantity argues that truth and caliber TV’s elaborate politics of sophistication entices audience not just to grapple with formerly invisible socio-economic realities but additionally to re-evaluate their classification alignment. The stereotypical methods of framing type are actually supplemented by means of these devoted to exposing the industrial and socio-psychological burdens of the (lower) heart classification. The case experiences during this booklet exhibit how subtle narrative options coincide with both advanced methods of revealing type divisions in modern American lifestyles and the way the tested indicates disrupt the hegemonic order of sophistication. the amount as a result additionally invitations a rethinking of traditional types of social stratification.

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Why should they call attention to the real causes of poverty and inequality and risk generating friction among the classes? Media executives do not particularly care if the general public criticizes popular-cultural content as long as audiences do not begin to question the superstructure of media ownership and the benefits these corporations derive from corporate-friendly public policies. According to sociologist Karen Sternheimer: Media conglomerates have a lot to gain by keeping us focused on the popular culture “problem,” lest we decide to close some of the corporate tax loopholes to fund more social programs … In short, the news media promote media phobia because it doesn’t threaten the bottom line.

When the media do provide coverage of the poor and homeless, individuals in these categories are portrayed, at best, as deserving our sympathy on holidays or after disaster has struck. In these situations, those in the bottom classes are depicted as being temporarily down on their luck or as working hard to get out of their current situation but in need of public assistance. At worst, however, the poor are blamed for their own problems, and the homeless are stereotyped as bums, alcoholics, and drug addicts, caught in a hopeless downward spiral because of their individual pathological behavior.

Judith Butler has described gender identity as performative, noting that social reality is not a given but is continually created as an illusion “through language, gesture, and all manner of symbolic social sign” (see Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” in Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre, ed. Sue-Ellen Case [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990], 270). In this sense, class might also be seen as performative, in that people act out their perceived class location not only FRAMING CLASS, VICARIOUS LIVING, AND CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION 45 in terms of their own class-related identity but in regard to how they treat other people, based on their perceived class position.

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