Nathan R – Shopping Assignment/Reading Quiz

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Hi All,

The yo-yoing weather has got the better of me and I find myself sick tonight. Rather than subject you to my ill ramblings and a shortened class, I am cancelling our in-class class and giving you a do-it-yourself alternative.

Instead of coming to class, go shopping. To a mall, for preference, but anywhere will do. Go shopping and then make a comment on the blog (attached to this post) relating your shopping experience to the Fiske text on shopping.

This post will count as a reading quiz (since we were going to have one tomorrow). If you post before next Wednesday, and your post relates to the Fiske reading, that is a 2/2 quiz. A later post, or one without a strong link to something in Fiske, will be a more fractional mark.

If you have any questions, drop me an email.

see you next week,


Happy shopping!


Note: You don’t have to buy anything for the assignment, in case you were wondering, just check out the space where shopping happens.

  1. Danielle Pretty says:

    In an effort to keep my post from getting lost among posts unrelated to this assignment, I will be posting my shopping assignment response here.

    In, “Shopping for Pleasure: Malls, Power, and Resistance”, Fiske dedicates a section of his article for women and consumption. Here, he takes on the phrase, “women shop”, and explores different slogans associating the two. He points out that shopping can be a source of self-esteem and power for women against patriarchal practices. Upon my visit to Brantford’s Lynden Park Mall, I was able to find a prime example of Fiske’s writing in a small knick-knack shop. Here, I found a bright pink gag poster that read, “Danger, Women Shopping”. Yet again, slogans are used in order to illustrate Fiske’s arguments. Like what many of my peers have noticed, women do indeed make up the majority of mall-goers (who actually spend money there).

    -Danielle Pretty

  2. Colin Drake says:

    (Along with Danielle, I also will be posting my reflection here…)

    A reflection on John Fiske’s “Shopping for Pleasure: Malls, Power, and Resistance” – Colin Drake

    The other day, my wife and I decided to take a trip down to a factory outlet mall in Oakville to do some bargain shopping. Even though we had the same type of ‘smart centre’ here in Waterloo, with the exact same stores, we thought that we might find something a little more ‘exclusive’ and ‘new’ (pg. 326) in the Oakville location.

    On our way to Oakville we decided to stop at our local Tim Horton’s to pick up a coffee for the road. As we pulled in, I noticed one of my co-workers standing beside his freshly washed and waxed pickup truck. I exchanged a brief hello with him as I walked toward the door of the Tim’s. He excitedly asked that I hurry back so he could show me ‘some modifications he did to his pride and joy that day.’ After picking up the coffees I went back outside to my co-worker’s truck. He was so proud that he finally had dual exhausts installed on his truck, in addition to a K&N performance intake (that he got at a ‘steal’ for only $349). He gave me an elaborate detailed explanation on the performance parts – where they came from, how much gains in horsepower were achieved by these parts, etc. He started up his truck, and there was no doubt that it sounded pretty mean and throaty. As we made our separate ways, he decided to do a ‘burn out’ on his way out of the parking lot, making sure everyone noticed him. Some of the patrons at the coffee shop appeared quite insulted and my wife and I felt a little embarrassed by his “self-display”…

    On pg. 318 of his article, Fiske mentions that those who have the ability to consume beyond their necessities sometimes will “self-display” this privilege by showing off their acquired commodities and their exclusivity. It is through this ‘showing off’ that one can make a statement that they are different than the rest. “The size of the car and the power of its motor express his toughness; the accessories, the carefully preserved finish, and chrome are an extension of the self he displays to the peer group.” I was able to see how my co-worker’s truck serves as an ‘important mode of self-expression’ to his friends (and informal spectators). His acquired truck accessories were expressions…“goods to speak with.”

    After the experience with my co-worker, my wife and I had an interesting discussion about why some people still have to show off their cars, act macho and brag to others about what they bought. Fiske illuminates on page 320 that “consumption is not necessarily evidence of the desire for ownership of commodities for its own sake…but rather a symptom of the need for control, for cultural autonomy and for security that the economic system denies subordinated peoples.”

    Most of those in society have to work very hard for what they have. Some may even struggle just to keep a roof over their head. Several may really despise their 9 to 5 type of job and may feel stuck in a rut –feeling that they have lost a sense of control in their lives.

    On another note, my wife and I did not find anything worth purchasing in Oakville. We ended up feeling very disappointed and even guilty, even though there were no specific items that we actually needed to purchase. We then decided to stop at our local smart centre after all. It was here that we found a few items to purchase. We then continued on our journey home feeling satisfied.

    Upon reflection I have come to wonder if we have become brainwashed that consumerism is the only means and method of directly coping with our ‘current life situation’ replacing what we are missing in our lives with commodities. I also wonder if our consumption also indirectly causes this marginalizing cycle to continue. Are we stuck working for crap we don’t need? Is it really these commodities with constructed meanings and pleasures that keep us going? Are we as Marx says ‘buying back’ little bits and pieces of ourselves that we have lost in our daily alienating jobs?

    Shopping has different meanings for everybody, and I do agree with Fiske that shopping is a way that one feels a sense of control, and a sense of identity. Corporations understand that the ideology of our society is one of individualism. That is why there is so much choice.

  3. ct340blog says:

    Colleen Haslett – Fiske Assignment

    Reading the chapter on “shopping for pleasure: malls, power and resistance” allowed me to come to a few realizations about myself. I am definitely one of the many women who LOVE to shop. To be quite honest, I’ve been searching for a reason to go shopping for the past 2 weeks and this was my excuse! My roommates and I went to Limeridge mall in Hamilton on Friday evening. The first thing I noticed was the alarming amount of pre-teens and teenagers that were just hanging out in the food court as well as walking through the mall aimlessly. This reminded me a lot about the Proletarian Shopper and how these teens/pre-teens are most likely there because this is where they congregate when there is nothing else to do. It was discussed at the beginning of the chapter that young people/unemployed are invading the space of those with consumer power. At times I felt irritated with these kids because they would often walk in large groups that would take up a lot of space on the concourse as well as enter stores and expect to be helped when they clearly have no intention on purchasing anything. There was a group of maybe 13 pre-teens that walked into La Senza and made the biggest deal of going in, messing up the displays and harassing the sales lady. I’m not saying anything is wrong with window-shopping as I definitely do it, as do many other people, I just don’t agree with those that decide to make a scene in the mall and give those that work there a hard time.

    There was another part in the text that stated that shopping is seen as an oppositional, competitive act and as such a source of achievement, self esteem and power. Another point stated that buying is an empowering moment for those whom the economic system otherwise subordinates. This is supported by the example that there tends to be multiple rejections of commodities before purchasing one that you like. By rejecting the offerings of the system, you’re in a sense of control. I believe this to be true for me. I always get a feeling of achievement after purchasing something from a mall especially when it comes to clothes and shoes. When I have something in mind that I want to purchase, I try on a plethora of different items and see what I think fits best. There is a sense of control when it comes to shopping. Shopping allows us to control how we look and it helps us portray our taste to everyone else in society. Everyone wants to “look good” and will purchase articles of clothing that accentuates their assets. Looking good is all relative and what is in style is considered what looks good at that time.

    Unfortunately, shopping is my addiction, or as was described in the chapter, my religion.

  4. Darcee Carnes, 090814820 says:

    Fiske Reading Assignment

    After finding out class was cancelled I ended up going out to the mall with my roommates as they were already going, only one had anything she wanted to buy, the three of us tagging along were just going out to participate in “proletarian shopping”. Proletarian shopping is when you go out with no intention of buying anything and often without money. On Friday I did not even take my wallet with me when we went, I just went to experience the atmosphere and to be out of the house and socialize with my friends. The mall is a busy, enticing atmosphere with huge signs to attract you, new products for you to buy, to make you better, prettier, more important and people often get sucked into this and love just being there.

    I am from Toronto and live right across the street from some stores, so on days where I have time, or am waiting around for my friends I will just walk across the street and go “shopping”. Like the reading says malls and stores are right there, enticing people to come and make purchases. Though I rarely buy anything I indulge in looking at the products, checking prices, and just being there. It becomes a pastime for me, a stress reliever, part of my normal everyday life.

    In the reading the differences between male and female shopping patterns was discussed, specifically that females go shopping much more often than males. I found this interesting because my best friend is a guy, and together we RARELY go shopping unless he needs something in particular, however when I am with my girlfriends we will aimlessly wonder around the mall, just chatting and sitting. In fact I even have plans already to go dress shopping with my girlfriends back home over reading week, I’m the one who needs a dress but they jumped right on the invitation to come along with me.

    Women are encouraged to shop constantly in our culture, and that is seen through media as well as social norms that are pushed. My sister for example hates shopping, passionately, whenever we have to go shopping, she whines and complains and sulks (please note, she’s 23). And I’ve often heard people say to her, “You don’t like shopping?! What’s wrong with you?”. However if she was a male, she would never get those comments.

  5. ct340blog says:

    Fiske makes some good points with regards to how shopping – particularly mall shopping – targets and is geared towards women. I’d like to take this opportunity to trace this trend to some very amusing, albeit telling ads from a time before the modern day shopping mall as we know it.

    The link above shows a rather amusing ad that appears as though it targets both men and women, but anyone can see it focuses on women. The message it brings is that women are the ones who want things, and that they’ll do anything to get.

    I suspect there is some merit to the idea that, over time, this message comes to be perpetuated and believed. However, I’m more interested in the ways in which these things affect our youth. It has been my experience in malls that young teenagers and “tweens” make this place their habit. They come to spend their time there, on a social level. Hanging out the park is no longer the thing to do.

    In addition, I get the feeling that being a “mall rat”, i.e. someone who just hangs out at a mall without taking any interest in the product, is viewed negatively and actively discouraged, particularly by the mall administrators. I have, in times past, been asked to stop loitering or leave an area in a mall. But if I have a purchase on me, or appear as though I may make a purchase, I am left largely alone.

    The thought of having routinely shopped when I was young is foreign to me. Shopping was something you did when you needed things, or when you had birthday money and wanted things. You didn’t do it on a regular basis. But more and more, I see kids who make it a habit.

    There is a place for social forum, where people can just come together in order to gather socially for any purpose they like. But that freedom is slowly being edged out. Malls invest in tighter security these days, people consider it a social faux pas to be hanging out in a mall without any intention of spending anything, and hanging out socially outside of a mall seems to hold less and less interest for the kids I know (ones I’ve worked with or family).

    I couldn’t tell you how, but something’s got to change. The mentality is unhealthy, undemocratic and economically unwise.

    Christopher Tanaka-Mann, 080967130

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