Ordinary Lifestyles: Popular Media, Consumption and Taste

By David Bell; Joanne Hollows | Go to book overview

1 Making sense of ordinary
lifestyles

David Bell and Joanne Hollows

The aim of this collection is to critically interrogate the role and function of lifestyle media in the formation of contemporary taste cultures and everyday practices. Lifestyle media's recent rapid expansion on television schedules and their dominance at the top of publishing's bestseller lists has not been matched by sustained academic scrutiny, perhaps, as Frances Bonner (2003) recently argued, because they are seen as just too ordinary. One of the key aims of this book is to take lifestyle media seriously, and to show that watching makeover television or cooking from a celebrity chef's book are significant social and cultural practices, through which we work on our ideas about taste, status and identity. In opening up the complex processes which shape taste formations and forge individual and collective identities in consumer culture, lifestyle media demand our serious attention, as well as our viewing, reading and listening pleasure.

In making sense of lifestyle media and the cultural importance of the idea of lifestyle, the chapters in this book address a series of key issues. First, the contributors consider continuities and discontinuities in terms of conceptions of and about the role of lifestyle; areas of life subject to lifestylization; media formats employed; and audiences addressed. Second, the book explores the relationship between abstract theorizing about lifestyle in relation, for example, to debates about post-Fordism and postmodernity, and the analysis of specific ways in which ideas about lifestyle have been mediated at particular moments and in particular places. Third, the chapters examine the impact of the growth of the ‘discourse of lifestyle’ on media production, formats, genres and markets. Fourth, Ordinary Lifestyles examines the extent to which lifestyle media produce, reproduce, reformulate or dissolve social and cultural identities and identifications, and the relations between them. Fifth, chapters analyse the role of cultural intermediaries in the production and reproduction of taste cultures. Finally, the book explores the ways in which ideas of the ‘ordinary’ and of ‘ordinary people’ permeate not only lifestyle media, but also the ways in which people understand their own lived practices.

The contributors to this volume primarily concentrate on questions

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