Understanding Popular Culture

Understanding Popular Culture

Understanding Popular Culture

Understanding Popular Culture

Excerpt

In this book I attempt to outline a theory of popular culture in capitalist societies. It is published simultaneously with Reading the Popular, a collection of analyses of some key sites and texts where the people make their cultures: these range from the beach to Madonna, from TV news to Sears Tower.

Understanding Popular Culture moves from theories to readings, Reading the Popular from readings to theories. Each book is designed to be self-sufficient, but I hope those who read both will find that the readings flesh out and interrogate the theories, and the theories deepen and generalize the readings. But neither book requires the other, so those whose interests center more focusedly on either the theoretical or the analytical should not feel deprived if they confine themselves to one or the other.

One of the advantages of being an academic is that theories travel well, with only a touch of jet lag. Consequently, over the last decade I have been fortunate enough to move freely among the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. My nomadism has left many traces in these books, but my experiences in different continents are held together by a common thread running through them-the countries with which I am familiar, and whose cultures I write about, are all white, patriarchal, capitalist ones. Of course, each inflects the common ideology differently, but the differences are comparatively superficial, though fascinating to live through and think about.

Reading the Popular is more geographically specific than this book, because analyses are necessarily tied more closely to their social contexts than are theories. Indeed, the theories that I use are European in origin-Bourdieu, de Certeau, Barthes, Hall, and Bakhtin are their anchors-but I use them to analyze the popular culture of English-speaking countries. Shopping

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