Posts Tagged ‘Fiske’

After going shopping this week, my experiences relate to Fiske’s text on shopping in particular to how “the location of shops within the overall structure and in their design, both of which are spatial metaphors for social relations” (325). Fiske separates the shops into 3 categories that window or potential shoppers can view and choose which inviting store will fit their class taste and social identity. I have attached three pictures for you to guess based on the criteria to follow, which shop is for which class: lower, middle and upper. Try to analyze this based solely on storefront design and not if you are familiar with the name brand and products.

 1. The first on the lowest level is for the “lower class” or “democratic shops”. These are indifferent, low priced goods that appeal to everyone. They don’t really have windows but simply open fronts that signal open to the public, anyone can come in and shop here.

 2. The “middle class” level stores are not yet exclusive but have a little more boundaries than the democratic shops. Their objects are medium priced with the windows pushing their objects for different individuals to see, with tons more objects on the inside. The lighting on the manikins is bright, showing that you will fit into this group if you consume these products. The design is strategically in place to differentiate itself from other identities and groups.

 3. The “upper class” is usually on the highest level of a store (think expensive high floors in NYC stores). The upper class stores are so individualistic to the point of exclusivity (325) that they filter out lower consumers and mass viewers that do not fit the identity and lifestyle the store portrays. The windows have fewer of their products and some times none on display because they are not available for everyone to look and consume. The lighting is low and the shop is less seen and sometimes invisible. 




Photo 1: Middle Class. Photo 2: Upper Class. Photo 3: Lower Class/Democratic Shop.

This week’s readings on Conspicuous Consumption and Shopping for Pleasure made me think of the story and recently released film The Great Gatsby. I should note this is a spoiler alert: the main character Gatsby shows off his extravagant lifestyle by throwing wild parties (that he doesn’t even attend!) with sole intentions of impressing his main love interest, Daisy. As Fiske describes, Gatsby doesn’t actually enjoy the physical consumption of these lavish goods but blatantly “wastes” all this in the hopes that this spectacle of wealth will lure Daisy in. This shows how Gatsby conspicuously consumes by overtly displaying his wealth to signal higher social status to Daisy because who doesn’t praise materialism these days? This constant struggle and competition to “be the best” and consume the most has led to the emergence of the consumer society.

Brianna Hill

In his article, Fiske mentions “earning as typically masculine and spending as typically feminine; Women as consumers and men as producers”. Relating to this notion, I found during my shopping trip to the nearest mall that there were a majority of women present at the shopping mall, as compared to men. Some has young children with them, while some were students (again, more females). Since I went on Friday between 2-4 PM, I was assuming that the most women present at the mall could have been housewives, who have come to shop, while their husbands are at work earning money for them and their family. This situation implies that Fiske’s theory about men being producers and women being the consumers holds true to some extent and portrays “patriarchal capitalism”. Other possibilities would be that of single mothers and/or working mothers, who had come to shop, but were not dependant on their husbands for income or spendings. I also observed some people, men and women, including seniors, of which some were married couples that seemed to be “hanging out” or drink coffee in the food court, while some were simply window shopping.

The article also mentions that “middle-class” shops tend to display more things in their windows and that the entire store is visible from outside. However, the “high-class” stores aim to display “exclusiveness” and unique styles, due to which their window displays have limited things and the entire store is not visible from the outside. The local mall I went to is small and has a majority of the stores for the lower-to-middle class, which is why almost every store had its products “pushed out” and widely displayed in windows. Being a female, I displayed conformity to my gender stereotypes and therefore, was tempted to buy many things, which also kept distracting me from my real purpose of going to the mall (for this assignment, of course).

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.