The Representation of Urban Upper Middle Class American Women's Community in Sex and the City

By Gani, Yola Damayanti | K@ta, December 2005 | Go to article overview

The Representation of Urban Upper Middle Class American Women's Community in Sex and the City


Gani, Yola Damayanti, K@ta


Abstract: The portrayal of urban upper middle class American women's community in Sex and the City-SATC-is built upon constructed symbols related to the position of urban upper middle class American Women's community and how cosmopolitan the women are. The symbol's construction is characterized by singleness, upper middle class social status, well-established career, alienation, consumptiveness, independence, gender consciousness, and open mindedness in their sexual knowledge. Television has helped to fracture traditional conventions about how women should place themselves in the midst of their society and constructed urban upper middle class American women's image and identity.

Key words: urban upper middle class American women, community, sexuality, lifestyle, representation, construction.

HBO began airing SATC on June 6th, 1998. Central to the show's appeal has been its frank discussion of female sexuality representation of the lives of contemporary women writers, creators or directors associated with the referred to 'feminist' for that matter. In many ways, a forum about women's sexuality as it has been shaped movement of the last 30 years.

By definition, all media texts are representation of reality. This means that they are intentionally composed, written, framed, cropped, captioned, branded, targeted and censored by their producers, and that they are entirely artificial versions of the reality we perceive around us. Every media form is a representation of someone's concept existence, codified into a series of signs and symbols, which can be read by an audience. However, we have limited perception of reality without the media. As an audience, we need the media to mediate our view of the world; in other words, we need media to make sense of reality. Therefore, representation is a fluid, two-way process : producers position a text somewhere in relation to reality and audiences assess a text on its relationship to reality. The study of representation refers to the construction in any medium of aspects of 'reality' such as people, places, objects, events, cultural identities and other abstract concepts.

This textual analysis study conducted to investigate structured symbols in SATC episodes that represent urban upper middle class American women's community by using semiotics approach. In semiotics (the science of signs) there are two central concerns: "The relationship between a sign and its meaning; and the way signs are combined into codes" (Fiske & Hartley, 1978, p. 37). A code is a rule-governed system of signs, whose rules and conventions are shared amongst members of a culture. These codes are links between producers, texts and audiences, and can be seen as agents of intertextuality through which texts interrelate in a network of meanings that constitutes our cultural world (Fiske,1987, p. 4). The codes, according to John Fiske (1987), work in a complex structure, which is by no means concretely fixed. They begin with an event to be televised which is already encoded by reality or social codes such as those of appearance, dress, make up, speech, etc. which transmit the conventional representational codes, which shape the representations of narrative, character, dialogue, setting, casting, etc. These are then organized into coherence and social acceptability (common sense) by ideological codes, like individualism, patriarchy, race, class, capitalism, etc. Reality then is already encoded; we make sense of reality by the codes of our culture. If this encoded reality is televised, the technical codes and representational conventions make it technologically transmittable and an appropriate cultural text for its audiences. The choices chosen will have different connotative meanings.

Conventional, ideological codes and the relationship between them are sometimes difficult to locate. The way codes fit together gives then a sense of naturalness and is evidence of how these ideological codes work to organize the other codes into producing meanings that constitute the common sense of a society. …

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