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

Topics: Culture, Popular culture studies, Cultural studies Pages: 4 (1147 words) Published: November 25, 2012
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 of making do”:

The creativity of popular culture lies not in the production of commodities so much as in the productive use of industrial commodities.  The art of the people is the art of “making do.” (Fiske, 1990, p.28)

What Fiske means with this, is that for a commodity to exist first it needs to sustain the interest of the people. This is why we are talking about culture, not just consumption, because what is important is the way we consume, not the production of commodities. The method of consumption depends on the way we interpret certain product, its meaning to us. Fiske completes his thoughts in “Reading the popular”:

Popular texts (...) are completed only when taken up by people and inserted into their everyday culture. The people make popular culture at the interface between everyday life and the consumption of the products of the cultural industries...Relevance can be produced only by the people, for the only they can know which texts enable them to make the meaning that will function in their everyday lives (Fiske,1989,p.6)

Here, Fiske argues that for a commodity to exist it needs to match the needs of people. These needs are the meaning of our everyday...
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