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Rural representations in fashion and television: Co-optation and cancellation

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In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Colombia Broadcasting System (CBS), a major US television network, cancelled all of its popular rural programming (e.g. The Beverly Hillbillies [Paul Henning, CBS, 1962–71], Green Acres [Jay Sommers, CBS, 1965–71]). Known as the ‘rural purge’, the cancellations made way for more urbanthemed shows and strove to cater to higher ‘quality’ (presumably urban) viewers. At the same time, US Vogue Magazine featured the peasant look: a decidedly rural style, but one co-opted from ‘other’ places and times. In this article, we analyse contradictory and ambivalent representations of ‘rurality’, which we describe as the construction and appropriation of non-urban life as a kind of cultural authenticity that is alternately disparaged and celebrated. Using Fred Davis’s (1992) concept of identity ambivalences and Henri Lefebvre’s (1991 [1974]) theories on the production of space, we explore cultural discourse in the late 1960s and early 1970s to interpret the complex rural-urban dynamics in fashion and television.

Keywords: Vogue; fashion; rural; sitcom; space; television

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of California, Davis

Publication date: October 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Fashion, Style & Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal specifically dedicated to the area of fashion scholarship and its interfacings with popular culture. It was established to provide an interdisciplinary environment for fashion academics and practitioners to publish innovative scholarship in all aspects of fashion and popular culture relating to design, textiles, production, promotion, consumption and appearance-related products and services. Articles related to history, manufacturing, aesthetics, sourcing, marketing, branding, merchandising, retailing, technology, psychological/sociological aspects of dress, style, body image, and cultural identities, as well as purchasing, shopping, and the ways and means consumers construct identity as associated to Fashion, Style & Popular Culture are welcomed. The journal offers a broad range of written and visual scholarship and includes works done through various methods of research. We welcome conceptual, theoretical and translational applied research in the areas of fashion, style and popular culture. This journal hopes to stimulate new discussions in the fashion disciplines and to push the envelope of scholarship by welcoming new and established scholars to submit their works.

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