According to the Merriam-Webstar dictionary, transformation, noun, is an act, process, or instance of change, conversion, or modification. According to Stuart Hall, "'transformations' are at the heart of the study of popular culture" and occurs in many instances. In the last 200 years, these instances have directly affected what pop culture is in the modern era. Within the popular British TV series Downton Abbey (2010), many transformations occur between the social classes.
Hall goes on to say, that, "transformation is the key to the long and protracted process of the 'moralization' of the laboring classes, and the 'demoralization' of the poor, and the 're-education' of the people." Hall himself notes that there was a profound transformation of culture that happened throughout both the 1880s and 1920s.
The television series, Downton Abbey, takes place at the heart of this process of mass media change and epitomizes transformation and change in social classes and pop culture itself.
Set in the early twentieth Century, this well-known series takes place in an upper class manor. The storyline follows different characters on the social ladder and demonstrates their own processes of modification. Within the dynamics of the house there are a variety of social statuses, for example, English gentlemen and ladies, kitchen maids, and butlers. The lines between these social distinctions become increasingly blurred as the show goes on.
Carson, the butler to the Earl of Grantham, said in once instance, "The world is a different place from the way it was...", then adds, "Downton Abbey must change with it." Many culture defining changes happened around the world at this time and the Earl was reluctant to adapt with the times.
With the advances in technology, the household of Downton Abbey had to adapt.
The Earl of Grantham reads the newspaper everyday, but media transformed radically during the early 1900's.
The Earl's niece wanted a radio for the house in order to listen to the King's message. Once convinced, the Earl adapts and allows for a radio to be installed in the house. Once the changes were fully accepted, the Earl of Grantham's habit of reading the newspaper died out.
There are many examples of social change and modification in media that are presented in this particular TV series. It presents great examples of all types of social classes and the adaptations they had to make throughout their life to adjust to the shift in culture, as well as technological advances, and the merging of social constructs. Since Hall says that transformation is at the heart of pop culture, we can use this series as an example for popular culture modifications that are ever present in the changing modern society.
What transformations have you seen within social classes in your favorite television show?
In relation to modifications within pop culture today, what are some things that you find may be hard to adapt to? (i.e. race, gender norms, sexuality, technology, etc)