Agency in a Constructed Society
As we study everyday life and culture, along with the influence of media, we are faced with the issue of structure versus agency. In doing these studies, we cannot make valid large scale claims about culture and individuals because we must take into account that we exist as individuals and have agency. Our own realities are subjective; in studying people we can find superficial patterns, however we cannot apply these patterns to every individual, as our realities are subjective.
In Fiske's, "Active audiences", he claims that reality is subjective--we engage and develop dialog and create our own version of reality. Fiske looks at the relationship between individuals and television, providing insight into the control we have over the meanings we gain from our reading of television and its message. Fiske claims that, "The television text is therefore more polysemic and more open than earlier theorists allowed" (p.66)--in
order for it to be popular, it must be capable of being read in many different ways. When we read a text, we are engaging in a dialogue between that text and our social situation and experiences: "our subjectivities are likely to be composed of a number of different, possibly contradictory discourses, each bearing traces of a different ideology" (Fiske, p.66). In a study of Aboriginal children, these readers were able to make sense of the text despite it being a part of the dominant ideology; the discourse of powerlessness that they lived by allowed a set of meanings to be activated which resisted the dominant ideology--however, in reading television in this manner, they were able to articulate their experiences in a white-dominated society. This study was important because it demonstrated how television or media text, does not have one set of meaning--rather, it can be interpreted and...