Structure of Feeling in Beverly Hills
With the American fall television season upon us, a recent NY Times article examines the underlying class distinctions found in some of this season’s newest programs. After surveying the offerings, it appears that the days of the middle-class sentimentality of such programs as The Cosby Show are a thing of the past. The article suggests that rather than focusing on supposed middle-class families, television shows today are often mainly interested in the conflicts between members of the upper-class. Additionally, the article goes on to point out that the upper-class on US television are often incredibly wealthy, with teenage characters chartering jets for first dates and even the less fortunate residing in Beverly Hills mansions. The British scholar Raymond Williams spoke of understanding a social group’s “structure of feeling” through their cultural outputs. In a time of economic turmoil, it may be interesting to utilize Williams’ approach to make sense of how these celebrations of opulence can coexist with the realities of financial uncertainty and a diminishing middle-class.