This assignment explores conflicts stemming from differences in taste, status and consumption. These conflicts manifest in three varied episodes. You will need to analyze and interpret these conflicts using course content and constructs from the class (particularly sessions 3, 4 and 5). You will also need to identify and consider similarities and dissimilarities between the episodes.
This prompt includes links to online artifacts. There are also six readings in PDF format referenced in this prompt. They can be found in the assignment folder on D2L.
Episode #1: the so-called red neck neighbor
The first episode is the oldest. Visit the following website:
This is a copy of a now defunct website (a proto-blog, if you will) in which a consumer details the activities of his “redneck neighbor.” Read the descriptions of the neighbor and his activities and look at the pictures. What is going on here? Why is the author upset? Is the author’s neighbor intentionally trying to provoke others with his behavior? What else could explain the discrepancy in understandings of the appropriateness of the behavior (the behavior seems fine to one person yet so offends those nearby)?
Episode #2: the mommy fight site
Please copy and paste the URL below into your browser to visit a Washington DC parenting website and message board: http://www.dcurbanmom.com/
Spend ten minutes poking around to see what this website is and then read the article about a notorious conversation that took place on the message board there – “The Mommy Fight Sight” (2011) by Kathryn Masterson. It’s about a battle between two different groups of new parents: Washington, DC residents and Washington, DC-area suburbanites. Then, read some discussions, like the following. They’re full of stuff relevant to this class and status oriented consumption:
What is going on here (in these particular discussions and in the discussion board in general)? Analyze these two different groups and how they discuss consuming with a focus on issues related to brands, consumption and status.
How to proceed: I would suggest reading a few threads beyond the one listed above (preferably those that are currently or recently active) from start to finish. Maybe you then want to read threads devoted to stuff and consuming and brands. To do this, you might try searching for threads that include these topics. Poke around a bit. Maybe you will want to visit the website for the upscale stroller brand referenced in the article from Washington City Paper (watch the short videos, note the prices of the stroller): http://www.bugaboo.com as well as the other strollers: gracobaby.com, maclaren.us. Explore the community and the brands implicated therein and try to figure out what is going on.
Episode #3: Look at my f***in’ red trousers.
This episode explores some tensions surrounding class and clothes in the United Kingdom.
First, read some pieces on the conflict – “The problem with men in red trousers” (2015), “Hipsters have ‘appropriated’ posh red trousers, say British upper classes” (2016), “Look at my f***ing red trousers: How one blog ruined the ultimate upper-class fashion statement” (2016) and “Red trousers are being killed off by hipsters and hooray Henrys, Country Life laments” (2016). Then, explore the very explicitly-named and NSFW blog in question.
Then, read a piece in defense of red trousers – “In Defence of Red Trousers” (2016).
Finally, a former 392 student alerted me to an American analogue: white boys in salmon shorts on tumblr:
What is going on here? Why were people wearing red pants (and salmon shorts)? Why would someone start a blog ridiculing red pants (and salmon shorts)? What’s the source (or, sources) of conflict?
Now think integratively. What is going on in these three episodes? What’s the common source of conflict? How can class content be used to explain what’s happening in these three episodes? Can anything else from class be brought to bear? (Hint: yes) Can anything from the readings, lectures and videos be applied? (Hint: yes, lots of it can be applied).
In two-thousand words or less, explain what is happening in these three episodes. Interpret what you read and what you see, using class readings, videos, lectures and discussions to inform your thinking. This is important: you must use course content to validate and support your arguments, interpretations and positions. In other words, draw from the content from the class to interpret and explain these episodes. Formulate an argument and integrate your thoughts into a cohesive and coherent essay. This is also important: Make sure you clearly and thoroughly explain the significance of and the connection to any course content you cite/use.
Finally. Think outside the assignment exemplars. Can you find other, more contemporaneous instances of these sorts of tensions? I am constantly looking for new artifacts for class discussions and assignment prompts. Can you think of any other instances of tensions arising from clashes of taste, class and status in consumption? It doesn’t have to be quite as epic as the above examples, but there needs to be visible tension and conflict. What and where (please provide sufficient details and explanation). Label this under a separate heading of “Also look at.” It is a required part of the assignment. Give me about a paragraph on this.
Word count: at the bottom of the paper, list the number of words in the document (use the word count feature in your word processor).
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