Bell, Claudia. "The 'Real' New Zealand: Rural Mythologies Perpetuated and Commodified." The Social Science Journal Volume 34 Number 2 (1997): 145-58.
“...versions of the real New Zealand’ draw from romantic, nostalgic and invented versions of the past, and of rural way of life.” P.145
- The myths we live by --> Samuel and Thompson (Book – to look up?)
“developing a national ideology that sustained a new way of life, drawing from the values and mythologies from the British past e.g. rural idyll, the bourgeois Victorian Family. ‘Rural Arcadia’ (an idyllic way of life within nature) and ‘familial Arcadia’ in particular are options that still persist as components of the ‘great way of life.” P.146
The legend of the pioneering New Zealanders perpetuated as happy rural families working together in nature as a “central strand” of Pakeha mythology. P.146
“Myth is definitively collective, across generations, beyond time and space limits.” P.148
“The ‘tourist’ is seen as saviour in many parts of New Zealand, where unemployment is high; or where depopulation has resulted from a lack of opportunities locally.” P.148
“Being observed [by the ‘outside’ world] encouraged processes of reflection that lead to cultural elaboration.” P.148
“Wilful nostalgia as a form of cultural politics has ... been an aspect of globalization (1990. P.50)” Robertson cited in Bell P.145
“Local culture has to be assertive and self validating to survive” P.154
“Mediated representation reframes the ideology and delivers it in the form of popular mythology” P.154 (usually delivered by advertising media)
“Reality now is a process of symbolic exchange suggesting ‘commodity fetishism’ as ideology. Ideology, culture and representation are all absorbed into the ‘total communication’ of the commodity... all communication, all culture in postmodern society is mass cultural ‘simulation’.” P.157 Baudrillard in Bell
- Baudrillard --> Cool Memories. 1990 (book)
On nostalgia, Bell cites MacCannell:
“every society necessarily has another society inside itself and beside itself: its past epochs and eras and its less developed and more developed neighbours. Modern society, only partly disengaged from industrial structures, is especially vulnerable to overthrow from within through nostalgia, sentimentality and or tendencies to regress to a previous state, a “Golden age” , which retrospectively always appears more orderly or normal.” (1992.p82) P.153-4.
“remnants of dead traditions are essential components of the modern community and consciousness...reminders of our break with the past and with tradition... nature and the past are made part of the present... as revealed objects, as tourist attractions. (1976. Pp.83-34) P.154
Citing Davis (Yearning for yesterday):
“nostalgia as a process attends to and serves needs for continuity and ‘comforts sameness’.” P154
Bell insists that: “Nostalgia is a proactive and aggressive colonizing tool in constructing the hyper-real.” P.154
Claudia Bell of the University of Auckland, Department of Sociology, wrote ‘The Real New Zealand’ in 1997. The article discusses the way in which perceptions of ‘Real’ New Zealand are fabricated by nostalgia and cultural myths of a romantic, rural history (145). Bell asserts that the creation of a national ideology was essential for early settlers to adapt to a new environment and whilst incorporating the ideals and myths of the British bourgeois Victorian family. Indeed it seems even today that the “happy rural family working together in the natural environment... is the central strand of legends and mythology of Pakeha in New Zealand”(146).
According to Bell, cultural myth is “definitively collective, across generations, beyond time and space limits” (148). It facilitates the acceptance of traditions as behavioural guidelines and provides foundations for common attitudes and beliefs (148).
In New Zealand, the perpetuation of a rural mythology has become so ingrained that it has become “popular nostalgia” (148). This nostalgia has taken on a commercial value in small communities that are economically dependent on tourism. This in turn has perpetuated and cemented the myths within our culture (148). Bell insists that people feel that local culture “has to be assertive and self validating to survive”(154). In an age of multi-nationalism and globalization the perpetuation of the “Rural Idyllic” myth has become even more ingrained in our national ideology. It is widely disseminated by popular culture, in particular advertising, which “reframes the ideology and delivers it in the form of popular mythology” (156). This commercialisation of culture/nostalgia is described by Baudrillard as “a process of symbolic exchange, suggesting ‘commodity fetishism’ as ideology. Ideology, culture and representation are all absorbed into the ‘total communication’ of the commodity... all culture in postmodern society is mass cultural ‘simulation’. (1991. P.41 cited in Bell 157).
The article is written as “semiotic resistance” or subversion; attempts at resistance through semiotic power, when economic power is elusive (157), which suggests the author would like to see these cultural constructs challenged, whilst simultaneously acknowledging that economically it is unviable to do so.