Jessica Abdilla- Quiz #2

Posted: February 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

While I already found Fiske’s take on consumption both interesting and vivid, many of his statements about shopping became astoundingly relatable the minute I stepped into my local mall; personally, I agreed with Fiske that shoppers possess the power to recombine cultural symbols and make new meaning, however I was confused as to how real-life individuals would go about doing such a task.Though I tend to become extremely overwhelmed in shopping malls and try to avoid them at all costs, I tagged along on a trip with a group of friends who were planning to proletarian-shop for the sake of this quiz and specifically kept an eye out for ways modern-day shoppers make meaning. Major observations made at the mall which tied specifically to Fiske’s reading include newness and control.

Wandering around in the mall with close friends, I first realized the importance of newness and progressiveness when it comes to consumption; specifically, many of the clothing stores I went to shop at were having ‘Winter Blowout Sales’ and were attempting to get rid of last-season’s styles for new Spring fashion. The urgency to replace one’s clothing each season as a way to stay on trend seems ridiculous to me, however it is something many consumers are willing to pay for. While the clothing marked with last-season’s colours and quirks was being sold for nearly a fraction of its original price, actual shoppers within the stores tended to try on and pay for clothing on trend for spring: pastel colours, floral prints and crop tops. Fiske mentions that people desire to purchase and mark themselves with the progressive because it allows them to relate back to the social order, develop a legitimate identity and derive further pleasure. Besides being associated with positive qualities, dressing ‘ in-the-now’ allows women to participate in the ideology of progress and affirm their public presence. During my shopping trip, the majority of those trying on the latest fashion in dressing rooms and were concerned with newness were female youths.


Finally, I better realized how people use already-existing cultural symbols to make new meaning during my shopping trip, specifically when I walked into a Forever 21. Looking through racks for things to try on, I found a dress I liked and decided to wait for a dressing room. While in line, I overheard three of the store’s employees at the dressing room organizing returned clothing items into verbal categories: feminine, bohemian, sporty and tomboy. Though the areas of the store are not labelled with these titles, I instantly realized that clothing of these types had been grouped together into distinct sections and that the layout of the store was highly controlled. While Forever 21 appears to have a system in place with constructed categories of meaning, shoppers have the immense power to shop throughout the entire store and mix together elements of ‘bohemian’ and ‘tomboy’ if they choose. As Fiske states, people can purchase items embedded with meaning and appropriate them in a way to produce new meaning. Having the control to shop beyond exclusive sections and construct one’s individual identity through consumption, people are able to experience both freedom and empowerment.



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