Abstract

The American basic cable channel HGTV became the object of public scorn after the housing market became associated with the current and ongoing global financial crisis. While noting the ways in which this channel’s programming has been complicit in the financialization of home ownership and the effacement of risk that continue to transform “dwelling” into “home” into “investment,” this article takes the occasion of enmity foisted on HGTV as an opportunity to more broadly consider the complex role of representation—or in the language of these programs, the role of “staging” —in and as part of the economic crisis. The links between complex and often abstract forms of financial speculation and the ideology of home ownership are not as direct as they were portrayed in the aftermath of the crisis. The staging of real estate in HGTV’s programming and the staging of economic practices offer two simultaneous and parallel, but distinct, practices of representation. Just as recently developing approaches to conducting the ethnography of financial markets have begun to suggest new ways of thinking about the work done in and by the economy, grounded in material practices, so too do we need to take seriously the complexity of the work done by textual representation in our understanding of political economies. Yes, through crisis we found that these practices are linked, but not directly or causally. HGTV programming does not offer confirmation or reification of the link between representational games of financial speculation and those of home owners. It is not the site of culture that has led to economic crisis, but rather a telling site of the culture of crisis.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 515-542
Launched on MUSE
2012-09-28
Open Access
No
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