Sociology Index


Books Popular Culture, Fashion Culture, Counterculture, Cultural Studies, Mass Culture

What is the meaning of popular culture? Popular culture typically refers to what we do in our leisure time. In this society, much of what we do involves consumption. Since the Frankfurt School, which identified with the ‘high culture’ of the intellectual classes, popular culture has been seen as commercialized, serving the interests of the capitalist system.

Intellectual opinions of popular culture, the culture of the masses, have been shaped by critical theory. That "culture" was divisible into different types such as high, popular, and folk are the most common distinctions came from the writings of Matthew Arnold.

Popular culture as we know it came about in the second half of the nineteenth century and was viewed very negatively by those who dared to acknowledge its existence. Post-modernists see popular culture as representing the voices of the previously silent. By adopting the methods of film analysis or literary criticism post-modernists examine the way popular culture is produced.

The Journal of Popular Culture - The official publication of the Popular Culture Association. The popular culture movement was founded on the principle that the perspectives and experiences of common folk offer compelling insights into the social world. The Journal of Popular Culture continues to break down the barriers between so-called "low" and "high" culture and focuses on filling in the gaps that a neglect of popular culture has left in our understanding of the workings of society.

An introduction to theories of popular culture - Strinati, D.- Publisher: Routledge
Abstract: The publication represents a clear and comprehensive guide to the major theories of popular culture, and a critical assessment of the ways in which these theories have tried to understand and evaluate popular culture in modern societies. Among the theories and ideas that the book introduces are: mass culture; the Frankfurt School and the culture industry; structuralism and semiology; Marxism, political economy and ideology; feminism; postmodernism; and cultural populism. The books explains how theorists have grappled with the many forms of popular culture, from jazz to the Americanization of UK popular culture, from Hollywood cinema to popular television series and soap operas, from teen magazines to the spy novel, and shopping centres.

Discourse on popular culture: class, gender and history in the analysis of popular culture.
Shiach, M. - Publisher: Basil Blackwell Ltd.
Designed to be of interest to students of communication and cultural studies, literature and literature theory, women's studies and cultural history, the book examines the history of analyses of popular culture in the UK, from the 18th century to the present day. It highlights the ways in which discussions of popular culture have been structured by considerations of power, class and gender. Specifically, the focus is on a series of key phases in the history of these discourses during which the nature of popular culture became a crucial issue for theorists situated within the dominant culture. Among the examples discussed are the transformation of discourses on popular culture brought about by the development of broadcasting. It is argued that the cultural and political assumptions underlying the discourses raises issues which should be critically examined in discussions of popular culture.

Urban Myths: Popular Culture, the City and Identity
By Katie Milestone, Department of Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University (July 2008)
Abstract: This article uses Manchester (England) as a case study to examine some relationships between the city and the popular culture that emerges from, or seeks to represent, this city. We focus on post-war popular culture that has been widely disseminated such as film, television and popular music. The article considers whether these examples of popular culture reflect wider urban, social and cultural change and discuss what impact this popular culture has had on changing the landscape and fortunes of the city. We discuss the case study of Manchester's popular culture in terms of ideas about place-based identities and social class. We consider popular culture in terms of de-industrialising Manchester through to regenerated Manchester. Concludes by discussing the possibility that the city centre of Manchester has become gentrified and considers the impact that this is having on popular culture.

Gay Sexuality in Singaporean Chinese Popular Culture - Where Have All the Boys Gone?
Kenneth Chan - China Information, Vol. 22, No. 2, 305-329 (2008)
In offering a selective survey of gay sexuality in Singaporean Chinese popular culture, particularly television, film, and theater, this article examines how the notion of the liminal functions as an effective critical trope to engage with a shifting presence/absence materiality of gayness in these representations. It also argues that this presence/absence is a consequence of the concentrically circular hierarchy of cultural production and consumption created by the Singapore media censorship model.

The symposium on urban popular culture in modern China
by: Min Ma, Jin Jiang, Di Wang, Joseph Esherick, Hanchao Lu
Abstract: The studies of urban popular culture in modern China in recent years have attracted wide attention from scholars in China and abroad. The symposium, “Injecting vitality into the studies of urban cultural history,” “Issues in the studies of urban popular culture in modern China,” “The microcosm of Chinese cities: The perspective and methodology of studying urban popular culture from the case of teahouses in Chengdu,” “Remaking the Chinese city: Urban space and urban culture” and “From elites to common people: The downward trend in the studies of Chinese urban history in the United States,” provide valuable insights on the perspective, trend, and methodology of the studies.

Popular Culture and Demystification: Adorno's Argument in the Context of Russian Popular Culture - Hajiyev, Anna
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the NCA 94th Annual Convention
Abstract: The essay explores the question if popular culture can function as a demythologizing force in society and focuses on the Russian greatness myth. I argue that some instances of mass culture are negatively capable of unmasking a collective myth. I disagree with the idea that modern mass culture promotes solely regressive and antidemocratic tendencies in society and hope to explicate my point of view by analyzing the Russian comedy series Nasha Russia.

Law and Popular Culture: Examples from Colombian Slang and Spanish-Language Radio in U.S. - Ernesto Hernandez Lopez - Chapman University School of Law
Abstract: This article argues that critical analysis of popular culture themes benefits legal scholarship by providing distinct cross-border perspectives and illuminating popular resistance efforts to hegemonic forces. This examination occurs in an Inter-American context, characterized by a south-north dynamic and migration's transnational influence. In these dynamics, there is significant popular resistance and anti-subordination to hegemonic forces. This resistance is visible within popular culture.
This article makes two claims about popular culture's relevance. First, observing how popular culture reflects societal interpretations of the law and politics greatly benefits the scholarly objectives of international research by promoting an exchange across national borders with an appreciation for different perspectives. Second, critically exploring popular culture illuminates how resistance and anti-subordination efforts often exercised by popular sectors, civil society, or Southern countries may be represented in this culture. As evidence of this, Colombian slang and Spanish radio in the U.S during 2006 immigration demonstrations are examined as two popular culture examples.

Knowledge, ignorance and the popular culture: climate change versus the ozone hole
Sheldon Ungar - University of Toronto at Scarborough, Public Understanding of Science, Vol. 9, No. 3, 297-312 (2000)
This paper begins with the "knowledge-ignorance paradox," the process by which the growth of specialized knowledge results in a simultaneous increase in ignorance. Given the assumption of widespread scientific illiteracy, the paper tries to show why the ozone hole was capable of engendering some public understanding and concern, while climate change failed to do so. The ozone threat encouraged the acquisition of knowledge because it was allied and resonated with easy-to-understand bridging metaphors derived from the popular culture.

Strong plots: The relationship between Popular Culture and Management Practice & Theory - Czarniawska, Barbara, Gothenburg Research Institute, Rhodes, Carl, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.
Abstract: Starting with references to previously established connections between high culture and management, we turn to popular culture for the same kind of connection. We suggest that much popular culture is based on established and repeated patterns of emplotment. The "strong plots", we claim, provide possible blueprints for the management of meaning in organizations. We illustrate our ideas with three types of text. An ethnographic study of an organization in decline. Here we show how management practice that attempted to work outside of the heroic emplotment of management action was resisted in the organization. The second example concerns two popular novels about the financial services industry. Thirdly, we turn to two examples of the parody of working life in comic strips and animated cartoons. In this case we demonstrate that popular culture can also be a site for the critique of, and resistance to, strong plots.

Television & Popular Culture
There is a need to develop a new critical vocabulary to understand how television and popular culture function culturally. Contemporary media users are widely recognized as literate and cynical, fully aware of the conditions under which they consume media and popular culture. Academic research in the realm of television and popular culture needs to recognize the impressive power of the industry to draw agendas for discussion of media content and use. We propose to look at three types of practices: 1. Practices of production 2. Practices of reception 3. Practices of critique. These practices involve all aspects of television and popular culture: specific texts, the groups who make and use them, and the contexts in which they do so. They provide a perspective to look at television and popular culture, without marking social or cultural domains.

Syllabus: Popular Culture - Phil Rutledge
Popular culture typically refers to what we do in our leisure time. In this society, much of what we do involves consumption. We are a culture of mass consumers. Almost every aspect of our modern leisure lifestyle (i.e., music, TV, sports, nightlife, etc) is based on purchasing something that was initially made by someone else (probably on an assembly line) and is then sold to us. This course examines popular culture in context of mass society, mass media and the television in particular, and the issues raised by mass society leisure patterns: In a mass society, who influences the forms of entertainment that are made available to the 'mass' public? What messages and ideologies are promoted by mainstream television and radio - and how are they helpful or harmful to certain groups? How are some subcultures seeking their own voices in defiance of the dominant culture? These and other questions are the subject of this class.
This course is partly designed to introduce the student to a sociological approach to the study of how the production of desire brought by industrialism, capitalism, and the mass media have influenced our lives. These influences are pervasive, influencing ideas about 'success', 'beauty', 'romance', 'happiness', and even what it means to be an 'American.' The study of popular culture requires an examination of the larger social and economic forces that influence our lives, particularly the rise of industrial capitalism and a mass media which is driven by capitalism.
The course will be divided three sections. The first section of the course will review important sociological issues and cover a basic introductory perspective of popular culture. The second section of the course directly addresses the theme of popular culture as driven by the force of mass consumption and the interests of industrial capitalists. In the mass culture model, people are viewed largely as 'massified', opiated spectators who consume that which corporations choose to offer us. Corporate elites are 'all-powerful' in determining the shape of popular (mainstream) culture. Popular culture is really a 'mass culture' brought to us by the 'mass media' which reinforces the dominant values of consumer capitalism, materialism, patriarchy, racism, etc. The last section will examine John Fiske's model of popular culture. Fiske disagrees with the mass cultural view which tends to be promoted by Himmelstein, preferring to view popular culture as something distinct from 'mass culture.' Fiske argues that, while the force of commodification is great, many people still choose to make their own entertainment - and to make their own expressions of cultural identity - rather than merely consume an instant, prefabricated or ready-made culture manufactured on some 'assembly line' by corporations interested mainly in making money and reinforcing the dominant ideologies that support their system. Fiske explores peoples' everyday efforts as creative participants (as opposed to 'opiated spectators') in what he considers the truly 'popular' culture.

Korean Popular Culture - East Asian Studies 300 Syllabus - Lecturer: Inkyu Kang - Course Description: This course aims to introduce students to Korean popular culture and its roots. Rather than present a compilation of factual information, the course will seek to develop an understanding of modern Korea by making an interdisciplinary approach to cultural, social, and political issues of Korean society.