Week 7 — Theories of Media & Technology
For this week, we reviewed the video: Then & Now, Bourdieu: Cultural Capital, the Love of Art & Hip Hop — which to me was an interesting perspective on culture. Traditionally, my perspective on sort of the way we view nature and nurture. I’ve also thought that nature and nurture go hand-to-hand; it’s something that has a significant impact on one’s ability to make a decision with regards to anything. Similarly, within this video, the notion of cultural capital is introduced, which is sort of similar to the debate of nature and nurture as well.
I think what was most interesting about this notion is the sort of interconnectedness of social, political, institutional, and economic capital. Your life experiences essentially have an influence on your desires, styles, and taste. Additionally, whatever your social class might be, contributes to this desire. The key point here is that your experiences help construct your meaning of who you are and your taste. So, if your social environment is of a higher class, then, yes, you’ll have similar taste because of the certain things you’ve been exposed to and privileged to. It all goes back to education; education is the foundation of all knowledge, and as explored in the video, your taste. It is also important to note how these dominant values can be extremely problematic. Certain perspectives are created with the intention of excluding groups of people. Taste becomes yet another construction that further perpetuates racial segregation, and it is designed to do so.
With thinking about this video, I also thought about the Grammys. Here we have an institution that plays a role in defining taste in the mainstream. The institution traditionally has been made up of white individuals with social, institutional, political, and economic capital to justify their positions. The level of power and privilege of literally deciding what is mainstream and not using their position can be problematic. As they justify certain selections, these values and beliefs become mainstream. They are adopted by other entities with other forms of capital, thus creating this notion of taste regimes. Think about Spotify; let’s say a song wins Best Song of the year at the Grammys, and Spotify creates a playlist of songs that won from the Grammys. The Grammys as an institution is widely accepted, so you as an individual, go ahead and listen to those songs. Because those songs are of the dominant class, you more than likely, accept that song as part of your specific playlist. This example also goes back to social media and applications that generate things based on taste. If you see something over and over again, there’s some chance that you might accept that viewpoint.
If we move to the notion of ads, we have dominant institutions playing a role in defining others’ tastes. Social media and its algorithms, particularly within the advertisement space, contribute to this idea of sameness. While yes, advertisements are more specific to your taste, your taste is also a construction based on your experiences as an individual. And these constructions are heavily dependent on your cultural capital that you were exposed to. Television is also another institution and representation of this notion, as it works to sort of showing us all forms of the type of capital you could receive. So in this sense, it could be an exception to the rule, as television could, in a sense, be educational in that regard. However, you also have to think about television’s role in maintaining the status quo. While you might think that you’re being exposed, it is also reinforcing certain stereotypes attached to certain notions of social and economic capital. Gossip Girl is a classic example, showing different dimensions in terms of capital; even though it’s from a predominantly white perspective, it shows how those of different social classes interact and engage with each other. However, Gossip Girl also illustrates how it excludes and harms people by working within these classifications within the social and economic dimensions.
I think what is most important is for viewers to recognize how certain industries are created with the purpose of maintaining the status quo. Regardless of what you might like as an individual, on some level, it has been constructed by what you watch and view on television, your daily experiences, etc. It is important to expose yourself to as much as possible through education. And education also has a role in doing this and ensuring that there are diverse representations within the classroom. If we want to end this idea of sameness, it starts within the classroom, in my opinion.