2010/1/20 GEC 319 Class II : How to do cultural studies? I.

GEC 319 Class II : How to do cultural studies?
by leungpo 2010/1/20
During, Simon (2005): “Going global”,
Routledge, pp.5-13.
Cultural Studies: A Critical Introduction, London:
“[…] a will to interpret the culture within the protocols of academic knowledge […] as well as a
(political) drive to connect with everyday life as lived outside the academy, and especially as lived
by those with relatively little power or status.” (pp.8-9)
“engaged study of culture”- “a field of power-relations involving centres and peripheries, status
hierarchies, connections to norms that impose repressions or marginalisation. But I also mean a
commitment to celebrating or critiquing culture forms, to produce accounts of culture that can be fed
back into cultural production and / or to producing new connections between various cultural forms
and people in ‘ordinary life’. ” (p.9)
~ being intellectual and critical as well as self-reflective and ordinary-sensible
du Gay, Paul ed. (1997): “Introduction”, Production of Culture/Cultures of Production,
London/Thousand Oaks/New Delhi: SAGE Publications, pp. 1-10. (HC79.C6 P76 1997 )
du Gay, Paul ed. (1997): Doing cultural studies : the story of the Sony Walkman,
London/Thousand Oaks/New Delhi: SAGE Publications. (reserve HM621 .D64 1997 /
Central lib: 301.243 DOI )
To analyzing the biography of a cultural artifact (文化產物的前世今生): Representation,
Identity, Production, Consumption and Regulation.
How a cultural product “is represented, what social identities are associated with it, how it is
produced and consumed, and what mechanism regulate its distribution and use”
1. Representation: how to describe such an object? Naming and titling. How it is being
recognized, categorized in the existing web of meanings?
signification: “the practice of constructing meaning through the use of signs and language.” ;
"associating [the meanings of an object] with different discourses or semantic networks.” / i.e.
similarities and difference with other objects [eg. choice of gift on Valentine's Day] /
"articulated with a number of key themes in the culture of late modernity"
[Sony Grammar: portable cassette player > “pressman”, “stereo walkie”, “Sound-About”(USA),
“Freestyle” (Sweden) to “Walkman” – a ‘typical Japanese-made English word’ ; “to cut the costs of
production, a decision was made to standardize the name to Walkman throughout the world.”]
[ digital music player > mp3 or iPod]
[ representation repertoire of Sony ad: Japanese-ness, young, cool, elegant technology, small
and powerful, speed, power and masculinity, the discourse of race, gender and sex, generation,
individuality, activity, leisure, the outdoors, fitness, health, movement, getting-out-andabout...(vs. Brithishness ; 80s Asian economic growth and flexible production)]
2. Identity/Identification: "How various groups and types of people came to be associated with
the Walkman.”
"The language of advertising and marketing attempts to create identification between consumer
and product.”
"The identity of Sony as a company was continually created and recreated through different
~ product is the same, but identities could be diverse (see following on consumption)
~ nationalizing aesthetic
[Sony as a Japanese product and as a Japanese firm]
3. Production & consumption: the two are the two sides of the same coin
Karl Marx: “Production is …at the same time consumption, and consumption is at the same
time production…But at the same time an intermediary movement goes on between the
two…Without production, no consumption; …without consumption, no production.”
Stuart Hall: articulation - “the process of connecting disparate elements together to form a
temporary unity…It is a linkage which is not necessary, determined, or absolute and essential
for all time…it is a combination of processes … that the beginnings of an explanation can be
found.” Connecting together “the dynamic of the ‘circuits of production, with the moments of
consumption, with the moments of realization, with the moments of reproduction.”
consumption: not just as material consumption but also as meaning-making and an ongoing
process / "meanings are not simply sent by producers and received by consumers but are always
made in usage.” /"Cultural meanings do not arise in things but as a result of our social
discourses and practices which construct the world meaningfully.” vs. passive model of
consumption (Marxist: "false need" & Frankfurt school "culture industry")
[Rey Chow “argues that in a society where the only acceptable mode of listening is public,
Walkman usage has distinctly political implications.” 周蕾:「另類聆聽‧ 迷你音樂─關於革
production of culture x culture of production:
"Meaning-making lies at the interface between culture and technology.”
The modern soundscape and electronic reproduction new sources of meanings and new means
(i.e. media) for the cultural production/consumption of meaning.
[Signifying “Japan? or a global hybrid – “strict hierarchy, certain idiosyncratic Japanese rituals,
a job for life, keiretsu”? Sony, Japan and the USA: the post WWII context.]
[Narrative: heroic individuals: “The ‘father’ of the Walkman” vs. engender and labour “the
activities of a young engineer” & cheap women labor supply ]
盛田昭夫 Akio Morita (1921-1999) (photo: 1967)
[Sony was infused with the ‘Japanese spirit’ of ‘reductionism’ vs. the idea did not come from
Sony at all]
[head office in NY; international warranty; standardization of corporate literature: “Sony is
[“A particular imagined consumer…guided the process of production and also the
manufacturing schedule (e.g. to get the new device into the shops just prior to the school,
college and University holidays… (and) marketed at a price that made it affordable for young
(the ‘mother’ of invention) in electronic assembly-plants.” ; also see 潘藝 and Michael Woolf
http://www.photomichaelwolf.com/the_real_toy_story/index.html ](consumption x production)
[Designers are key “cultural intermediaries” – group of workers who play an active role in
promoting consumption through attaching to products and services particular meanings and
‘lifestyles’ with which consumers will identify…people involved in the provision of symbolic
goods and services.” “involves tailoring or customizing a product to the lifestyle of a particular
niche or target market segment.” e.g. “My first Sony” range – “chain of meaning between the
quality of Sony’s products, high-quality parenting and a child’s quality of life….designers were
charged with translating adult models of basic Sony products…into products suitable for
children (both technical and appearance)…designers made a series of products achieve a new
register of meaning.”]
Regulations (de-regulation): cultural and costume, legal and copy rights, mass media and the
public sphere:
["The Walkman disturbed the boundaries between the private and public worlds..]
[‘moral panic’ : echoing conservative criticisms in the USA—reservation of great literary
canons and the voice of God
-----------------Further readings:
周蕾:「另類聆聽‧ 迷你音樂─關於革命的另一種問題」,《寫在家國之外》。香港﹕牛津
大學出版社,1995 年,頁 63-90。
年 01 月 10 日 02:18。
文字馬傑偉 ; 影像謝至德:《酒吧工廠 : 打造現代身體》。香港 : 苗苗堂有限公司, 2003.
(reserve HD5856.C5 M33 2003)]
郭恩慈, 蘇珏編著:《中國現代設計的誕生》。香港 : 三聯書店(香港)有限公司, 2007.