John Fiske Argues That ‘Popular Culture Lies Not in the Production of Commodities so Much as the Productive Use of Industrial Commodities’

1163 words 5 pages
John Fiske argues that ‘popular culture lies not in the production of commodities so much as the productive use of industrial commodities’
(Fiske, J. 1990, Understanding Popular Culture. London: Routledge, p.28)


By the word “culture” we refer to the social circulation of meanings, values and pleasures to the processes of forming social identities. "Popular" is a more elusive term even than "culture." One meaning of the word, is what is most popular is what appeals to the most people. Another, supported by John Fiske, is that "the popular" serves the interests of "the people."

In this light John Fiske reference De Certeau in his book “Understanding Popular Culture”, saying that popular culture is the “art
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In his view, the power, ultimately, is with the people”(Harrington and Bielby, 2001, p.9).

Unlike Fiske who rejects the existence of a mass who only consume the products, without having any power in the society, others, like Ien Ang argues that “we need to be cautious in applauding the apparent power of active audiences to generate their own cultural meanings, because this power is actually quite limited (...) (Ang,1990,p.247 In Harrington and Bielby,2001,p.9). The Frankfurt School, also has another theory different from Fiske. They argue that people consume the products directly as they are made, but not modifying them according to their needs:” (...) for the Frankfurt School (...) the culture industry produced cultural consumers who would consume its products and conform to the dictates and the behaviours of the existing society. “(Kellner, 2007, p.57). For them, resistance is not possible to be made. Moreover, the audience is claimed to be passive, easy manipulative, just a”mass”. Ideology- a term often related with culture by the Frankfurt School theorists, give us a way of explaining, for example, how advertisements project in us a feeling that we will freely consume and buy things- ideology of freedom. They used the term to present a system of ideas and beliefs how people should act and think (Watson, J. and Hill,