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The Cultural Economy Of Fandom: A Review On The Article By John Fiske

1111 words - 4 pages

This essay examines the situation of fandom in society, and its' effect; both ethnically and frugally. I really enjoyed reading and interpreting what the author had to say, which I thought he portrayed well through his use of language. The author proposes a discussion on the characteristics of fandom under the following headings; Discrimination and Distinction, Productivity and Participation, and Capital Accumulation. He applies these three attributes liberally, as a general application to fandom. The author also fringes on the topic of fans and commercial (popular) culture and how there is a symbiotic or facilitative relationship between the two.To begin, the author shares his definition of fandom and how it is universally, an accepted aspect of popular culture in society. In my view, the author furthers his definition by implying that fandom is like a cyclic process, whereby certain groups of people take turns selecting from the vast collection of mass-produced and mass-distributed entertainment within popular culture, and how this process is constantly being reworked to appeal to a new audience or fandom within the spectrum. The author then proceeds to describe how fandom is perceived within society, especially by those in the dominant value system, whereby they associate fandom with a subordinary class. I must intercept here to say that the phrasing of "the dominant value system" is quite misleading in my opinion, as it does not necessarily refer to the majority of society, which I think many people would otherwise conclude. The author states that popular audiences engage in semiotic productivity because it reflects their social situation. But the fans transform this semiotic productivity into textual production thus better defining the fan community. And for that reason, fans create a fan culture with its' own systems of production and distribution which draws similarities with cultural industries-what Fiske refers to as "shadow cultural economy".In his essay, Fiske uses and develops Bourdieu's paradigm of describing culture as an economy in which people invest and accumulate capital. The cultural system works like the economic system by distributing its' resources inequitably, thus widening the margin between the privileged and the deprived. This cultural system the author refers to privileges certain cultural tastes, particularly those promoted through the educational system and other institutions. For example, museums, art galleries, concert halls, and state subsidies to the arts. These foundations therefore constitute an empowered "high culture" which the author refers to as being the official culture. And, because it is unlike popular culture, it receives social legitimation and institutional support. I quite liked Fiske's comparison of the official culture to money, and how they are both a representation of power. He furthers this idea by arguing that cultural capital and economic capital work simultaneously to produce social privilege...

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