Yes, I know this season kicks some serious butt. And I know I’ve been saying this for, basically, the entire season. But let’s all boycott the show. How dare they give us two amazing hours of television right before Thanksgiving? How are we supposed to analyze it properly?
You see, it’s all CBS’ fault you’re getting this column a couple of days late. It’s not my fault. Nope, not at all. It didn’t have anything to do with me eating way, way too much food. Nope. It’s all on CBS. Damn them.
But, seriously, what a great appetizer to what was hopefully an awesome holiday for you all. Now let’s talk about voting blocs.
As you all probably know, for two weeks, I’ve been preaching that the voting bloc theory just didn’t pass the eye test. This was a theory thrown out there by a couple contestants (ahem, Stephen) that basically made these returning players feel special, like they were more advanced players than anyone else. It’s basically, “Hey look Probst. We’re so amazing we’ve invented an entire new way of playing the game.” Yeah, not so much. We’ve seen this all before.
Until now, maybe.
This is the part of this here column when we bring in some theory. Let’s talk about social constructionism theory. Introduced to the world of sociology and beyond in 1966 by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann through an amazing book called The Social Construction of Reality, social constructionism is basically a theory that describes how knowledge is developed. In my field, we often use it to describe how, for example, norms and routines become essential to news production.
What does all this mean? Well, social constructionism, like many theories of knowledge, argues that knowledge is built in a specific manner. For social constructionism, two ideas are essential to the theory. Before we talk about those, though, I should stress that social constructionism is, even though it comes from sociology, a theory based on communication. You see, communication drives our experience, it’s how we make sense of the world and it’s how we pass along knowledge.
So, the two ideas. First, social constructionism is like cultivation theory, sort of, (which we talked about a couple weeks ago), in that it argues people make sense of the world around them, or rationalize it, by deciding how they believe the world works. Second, the way people talk about things, their language, is how people communicate their reality and how it spreads.
Another key thing that social constructionism examines is how things become institutionalized. Basically, what that means is that when we study something utilizing social constructionism, one of the main things we look at is institutionalized behaviors or norms and how they became that way. So for media scholars, for example, maybe we study a news organization and see that everyone reports stories in the same way. How did that behavior become institutionalized? Probably through communication in some way.
I think we can explain the voting bloc using social constructionism. You see, as I’ve argued, the idea of the voting bloc has been totally overused by both the contestants and Probst. They just keep talking about it even though we know the players are acting in the same way they’ve always acted. We’ve seen this stuff before. We’ve seen it in Cagayan and other seasons. But they keep talking about voting blocs.
Do you see where I’m going here?
While the players have been executing some very good strategy and playing a fun, exciting game, they have not been practicing some new form of gameplay. Their idea of voting blocs is not new. But they kept talking about voting blocs. They kept communicating the idea of the voting bloc. Probst joined in. Over time, the idea of the voting bloc became institutionalized and, this week, I think we saw some actual voting bloc plays.
For example, do we think Jeremy uses his idol on Stephen if he thought he was part of a large alliance and not simply a small voting bloc? I don’t think so. All the talk about voting blocs made Jeremy think he needed to keep Stephen in the game. Does Spencer flip on Jeremy and Stephen if doesn’t think there’s amorphous voting blocs that change each vote? I’m not sure. Does Stephen make everyone split that last vote if he doesn’t believe in the blocs? I sure don’t think so. Earlier in the season, before the bloc talk, we saw Savage go home because everyone was scared to split the vote. Not this time.
So, we’ve seen how the idea of voting blocs have affected the season so far. Does it keep going this way? I, for one, am excited to find out.
Now let’s talk about the Second Chancers still left in the game. This list keeps getting smaller and smaller …
I hope everyone’s successfully digested your Thanksgiving feast and you’re ready for work Monday. Talk to you next week.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He’s seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he’ll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.