Cultural Consumption and Everyday Life (Cultural Studies in Practice), John Storey

“Myths are the stories societies live by. They provide ways of conceptualising and understanding the world, and therefore they are crucial to a society’s efforts (always in the interests of dominant groups) to construct and maintain a sense of self-identity (in terms of acceptable sameness and unacceptable difference). For Barthes myth attempts to become society’s common sense”- to produce and put into circulation modes of thinking in which what is cultural (i.e made by humans) is understood as natural (i.e a result of the laws of nature). Barthes’ concept of myth is very close to Marxism’s understanding of ideology in that, like ideology, myth is a body of ideas and practices which seek to defend the prevailing structures of power by actively promoting the values and interests of the dominant groups in society. Myths is successful to the extent it is able to naturalise and universalise the interests of dominant groups as if they were the interests of all members of society.
To understand this aspect of Barthes’ argument we need to understand the polysemic nature of signs; that is, that they have the potential to signify multiple meanings”

P30 (on the Paris Match cover)
“What makes the move from primary signification (denotation) to secondary signification (connotation) a possibility are the shared cultural codes on which both Barthes and the readership of Paris Match are able to draw. Without access to this shared code (conscious or unconscious) the operations of secondary signification (connotation) would not be possible. And of course such knowledge is always both historical and cultural. That is to say, it might differ from one culture to another, and from one historical moment to another. Cultural difference might also be marked by differences of class, race, gender, generation, or sexual preference.

As Barthes explains, reading closely depends on my culture, on my knowledge of the world, and it is probable that a good press photograph (…) makes ready play with the supposed knowledge of its readers
Secondary significations (connotations ) are therefore activated from an already existing cultural repertoire (…) and at the same time adds to it.
This is a process of cultural consumption as manipulation in which we as readers are active and complicit participants”

P44 The making of Class Difference

Pierre Bourdieu looks into how what social groups consume is “Part of a strategy for hierachicising social space”. “He shows how arbitrary tastes and arbitrary ways of living are continually transmuted into legitimate taste…”



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