Mainstream(S) and Margins: Cultural Politics in the 90s

Mainstream(S) and Margins: Cultural Politics in the 90s

Mainstream(S) and Margins: Cultural Politics in the 90s

Mainstream(S) and Margins: Cultural Politics in the 90s

Synopsis

This book draws together 13 distinctive and original explorations of how dominant cultural mainstreams and margins are formed and resisted, how they stabilize and shift, and how they permeate and define each other. The chapters speak to central problems of cultural politics that represent critical challenges for theory, research, and action in the social world. The authors develop and advance new approaches for interdisciplinary inquiry into contemporary cultural issues. Drawing on and extending scholarship in communication, political science, sociology, women's studies, critical cultural studies, anthropology, and American studies, they analyze what happens when marginal groups meet mainstream forces. The chapters will enliven academic debates over what constitutes a cultural mainstream or margin.

Excerpt

Michael Morgan and Susan Leggett

The important cultural debates in contemporary society are no longer over "high" versus "low" culture. Instead, cultural inquiry has been reconfigured into a political question about the dynamic relationships among cultural strands and currents. But what is the mainstream of a culture? What are the margins? Where does the center end and the periphery begin--and how rigid is the division between them? How do ideas, artifacts, practices--and people--get assigned to one "location" or another, and once so assigned, must they remain there?

We refer to "mainstream(s)" in the semi-plural to highlight the notion that what is dominant is neither necessarily monolithic nor static, and hence, the contours of the "margins" need not be fixed. But how do mainstream(s) and margins determine, direct, and define each other? in an increasingly interconnected world, what are the implications of maintaining, breaking, or merging boundaries?

This book explores these questions and takes as its collective starting point the assumption that expressive practices do, in fact, matter. That is, social and cultural power is imprinted on, reproduced, and lived through such practices. As a group, the chapters examine two central issues: (1) the processes by which cultural mainstreams and margins are formed and resisted and (2) specific community and institutional re-

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