Harry Potter and the Commodity Fetish: Activating Corporate Readings in the Journey from Text to Commercial Intertext

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Abstract:

Recent years have seen a productive dialogue develop between political-economic and cultural approaches to media studies. In this spirit, this article draws on the analytic tools of political economy to produce a textual analysis of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. In particular, we argue that Rowling has woven throughout the Potter series a set of contradictory discourses related to class and consumerism. Yet out of this heteroglossia, AOL Time Warner - the holder of the series' film and merchandising rights - has activated a narrow reading of Harry Potter that subordinates Rowling's critique of social inequality and materialism while amplifying those moments in the texts that celebrate the "magic" of commodity consumption. Our conclusion discusses the role such corporate activations might play in the struggle over how commodity production and consumption will be understood in the wider social field.

Keywords: Class; Consumption; Cultural Studies; Harry Potter; Political Economy

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14791420601151289

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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