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Cultural Theory and Popular Culture An Introduction Fifth edition John Storey University of Sunderland
Before we consider in detail the different ways in which popular culture has een defined and analysed! I want to outline so"e of the #eneral features of the de ate that the study of popular culture has #enerated$ It is not "y intention to pre%e"pt the specific findin#s and ar#u"ents that will e presented in the followin# chapters$ &ere I si"ply wish to "ap out the #eneral conceptual landscape of popular culture$ This is! in "any ways! a dauntin# tas'$ As Tony Bennett ()*+,- points out! .as it stands! the concept of popular culture is virtually useless! a "eltin# pot of confused and contradictory "eanin#s capa le of "isdirectin# in/uiry up any nu" er of theoretical lind alleys0 ()+-$ Part of the difficulty ste"s fro" the i"plied otherness that is always a sent1 present when we use the ter" .popular culture0$ As we shall see in the chapters which follow! popular culture is always defined! i"plicitly or e2plicitly! in contrast to other conceptual cate#ories3 fol' culture! "ass culture! do"inant culture! wor'in#%class culture! etc$ A full definition "ust always ta'e this into account$ 4oreover! as we shall also see! whichever conceptual cate#ory is deployed as popular culture0s absent other! it will always powerfully affect the connotations rou#ht into play when we use the ter" .popular culture0$ Therefore! to study popular culture we "ust first confront the difficulty posed y the ter" itself$ That is! .dependin# on how it is used! /uite different areas of in/uiry and for"s of theoretical definition and analytical focus are su##ested0 (5,-$ The "ain ar#u"ent that I suspect readers will ta'e fro" this oo' is that popular culture is in effect an empty conceptual cate#ory! one that can e filled in a wide variety of often conflictin# ways! dependin# on the conte2t of use$
In order to define popular culture we first need to define the ter" .culture0$ 6ay"ond Willia"s ()*+7- calls culture .one of the two or three "ost co"plicated words in the 8n#lish lan#ua#e0 (+9-$ Willia"s su##ests three road definitions$ First! culture can e used to refer to .a #eneral process of intellectual! spiritual and aesthetic develop"ent0 (*,-$ We could! for e2a"ple! spea' a out the cultural develop"ent of Western 8urope and e referrin# only to intellectual! spiritual and aesthetic factors : #reat philosophers! #reat artists and #reat poets$ This would e a perfectly understanda le for"ulation$ A second use of the word .culture0 "i#ht e to su##est .a particular way of life! whether of a people! a period or a #roup0 (i id$-$ Usin# this definition! if we spea' of the cultural develop"ent of Western 8urope! we would have in "ind not ;ust intellectual and aesthetic factors! ut the develop"ent of! for e2a"ple! literacy! holidays! sport! reli#ious festivals$ Finally!
ust as easily and perhaps "ore accurately as ideolo#ical studies0 (<?-$ @i'e culture! ideolo#y has "any co"petin# "eanin#s$ An understandin# of this concept is often co"plicated y the fact that in "uch cultural analysis the concept is used interchan#ea ly with culture itself! and especially popular culture$ The fact that ideolo#y has een used to refer to the sa"e conceptual terrain as culture and popular culture "a'es it an i"portant ter" in any understandin# of the nature of popular culture$ What follows is a rief discussion of .ideolo#y of the @a our Party0$ &ere we would e referrin# to the collection of political! econo"ic and social ideas that infor" the aspirations and activities of the Party$ A second definition su##ests a certain "as'in#! distortion! or conceal"ent$ Ideolo#y is used here to indicate how so"e te2ts and practices present distorted i"a#es of reality$ They produce what is so"eti"es called .British cultural studies could e descri ed .false consciousness0$ Such distortions! it is ar#ued! .culture0$ The second "eanin# :culture as a particular way of life : would allow us to spea' of such practices as the seaside holiday! the cele ration of Christ"as! and youth su cultures! as e2a"ples of culture$ These are usually referred to as lived cultures or practices$ The third "eanin# : culture as si#nifyin# practices : would allow us to spea' of soap opera! pop "usic! and co"ics! as e2a"ples of culture$ These are usually referred to as te2ts$ Few people would i"a#ine Willia"s0s first definition when thin'in# a out popular culture$ Ideolo#y Before we turn to the different definitions of popular culture! there is another ter" we have to thin' a out3 ideolo#y$ Ideolo#y is a crucial concept in the study of popular culture$ >rae"e Turner ()**<.professional ideolo#y0 to refer to the ideas which infor" the practices of particular professional #roups$ We could also spea' of the .the wor's and practices of intellectual and especially artistic activity0 (i id$-$ In other words! culture here "eans the te2ts and practices whose principal function is to si#nify! to produce or to e the occasion for the production of "eanin#$ Culture in this third definition is synony"ous with what structuralists and post%structuralists call .the "ost i"portant conceptual cate#ory in cultural studies0 ()+5-$ Ja"es Carey ()**<.si#nifyin# practices0 (see Chapter <-$ Usin# this definition! we would pro a ly thin' of e2a"ples such as poetry! the novel! allet! opera! and fine art$ To spea' of popular culture usually "eans to "o ili=e the second and third "eanin#s of the word .calls it .has even su##ested that .ust five of the "any ways of understandin# ideolo#y$ We will consider only those "eanin#s that have a earin# on the study of popular culture$ First! ideolo#y can refer to a syste"atic ody of ideas articulated y a particular #roup of people$ For e2a"ple! we could spea' of .Willia"s su##ests that culture can e used to refer to .
reflections0 or .e2pressions0 of the power relations of the econo"ic ase of society$ This is one of the funda"ental assu"ptions of classical 4ar2is"$ &ere is Aarl 4ar20s ()*9<a.li"it position0 for 4ar2is"$ A andon this clai"! it is ar#ued! and 4ar2is" ceases to e 4ar2is" (Bennett! )*+5a3 +)-$ .fa"ous for"ulation3 In the social production of their e2istence "en enter into definite! necessary relations! which are independent of their will! na"ely! relations of production correspondin# to a deter"inate sta#e of develop"ent of their "aterial forces of production$ The totality of these relations of production constitutes the econo"ic structure of society! the real foundation on which there arises a le#al and political superstructure and to which there correspond definite for"s of social consciousness$ The "ode of production of "aterial life conditions the social! political and intellectual life process in #eneral (7-$ What 4ar2 is su##estin# is that the way a society or#ani=es the "eans of its econo"ic production will have a deter"inin# effect on the type of culture that society produces or "a'es possi le$ The cultural products of this so%called ase1superstructure relationship are dee"ed ideolo#ical to the e2tent that! as a result of this relationship! they i"plicitly or e2plicitly support the interests of do"inant #roups who! socially! politically! econo"ically and culturally! enefit fro" this particular econo"ic or#ani=ation of society$ In Chapter B! we will consider the "odifications "ade y 4ar2 and Frederic' 8n#els the"selves to this for"ulation! and the way in which su se/uent 4ar2ists have further "odified what has co"e to e re#arded y "any cultural critics as a rather "echanistic account of what we "i#ht call the social relations of culture and popular culture$ &owever! havin# said this! it is nevertheless the case that acceptance of the contention that the flow of causal traffic within society is une/ually structured! such that the econo"y! in a privile#ed way! influences political and ideolo#ical relationships in ways that are not true in reverse! has usually een held to constitute a .wor' in the interests of the powerful a#ainst the interests of the powerless$ Usin# this definition! we "i#ht spea' of capitalist ideolo#y$ What would e inti"ated y this usa#e would e the way in which ideolo#y conceals the reality of do"ination fro" those in power3 the do"inant class do not see the"selves as e2ploiters or oppressors$ And! perhaps "ore i"portantly! the way in which ideolo#y conceals the reality of su ordination fro" those who are powerless3 the su ordinate classes do not see the"selves as oppressed or e2ploited$ This definition derives fro" certain assu"ptions a out the circu"stances of the production of te2ts and practices$ It is ar#ued that they are the superstructural .
always present a particular i"a#e of the world$ This definition depends on a notion of society as conflictual rather than consensual! structured around ine/uality! e2ploitation and oppression$ Te2ts are said to ta'e sides! consciously or unconsciously! in this conflict$ The >er"an playwri#ht Bertolt Brecht ()*9+su""ari=es the point3 .clai"s! a site where .*a.natural0! the .operates "ainly at the level of connotations! the secondary! often unconscious "eanin#s that te2ts and practices carry! or can e "ade to carry$ For e2a"ple! a Conservative Party political roadcast trans"itted in )**.universal0! fro" which other ways of ein# are an inferior variation on an ori#inal$ This is "ade clear in such for"ulations as a fe"ale pop sin#er! a lac' .socialis"0 ein# transposed into red prison ars$ What was ein# su##ested is that the socialis" of the @a our Party is synony"ous with social! econo"ic and political i"prison"ent$ The roadcast was atte"ptin# to fi2 the connotations of the word .the politics of si#nification0 are played out in atte"pts to win people to particular ways of seein# the world ()55:57-$ A fourth definition of ideolo#y is one associated with the early wor' of the French cultural theorist 6oland Barthes (discussed in "ore detail in Chapter <-$ Barthes ar#ues that ideolo#y (or .ust e2istin#-$ Si"ilarly! it could e ar#ued that in British society white! "asculine! heterose2ual! "iddle class! are un"ar'ed in the sense that they are the . ended with the word ..We can also use ideolo#y in this #eneral sense to refer to power relations outside those of class$ For instance! fe"inists spea' of the power of patriarchal ideolo#y! and how it operates to conceal! "as' and distort #ender relations in our society (see Chapter 9-$ In Chapter + we will e2a"ine the ideolo#y of racis"$ A third definition of ideolo#y (closely related to! and in so"e ways dependent on! the second definition.ournalist! a wor'in#%class writer! a #ay co"edian$ In each instance the first ter" is .:)-$ Brecht0s point can e #enerali=ed to apply to all te2ts$ Another way of sayin# this would e si"ply to ar#ue that all te2ts are ulti"ately political$ That is! they offer co"petin# ideolo#ical si#nifications of the way the world is or should e$ Popular culture is thus! as &all (5.>ood or ad! a play always includes an i"a#e of the world$ $ $ $ There is no play and no theatrical perfor"ance which does not in so"e way affect the dispositions and conceptions of the audience$ Art is never without conse/uences0 ()?.ideolo#ical for"s0 (4ar2! )*9<a3 ?-$ This usa#e is intended to draw attention to the way in which te2ts (television fiction! pop son#s! novels! feature fil"s! etc$.nor"al0! the ."yth0 as Barthes hi"self calls it.uses the ter" to refer to .as so"ethin# which is natural (i$e$ .collective social understandin#s are created03 a terrain on which .socialis"0$ 4oreover! it hoped to locate socialis" in a inary relationship in which it connoted unfreedo"! whilst conservatis" connoted freedo"$ For Barthes! this would e a classic e2a"ple of the operations of ideolo#y! the atte"pt to "a'e universal and le#iti"ate what is in fact partial and particularC an atte"pt to pass off that which is cultural (i$e$ hu"anly "ade.
su##ests four current "eanin#s3 .universal0 cate#ories of pop sin#er! .wor' deli erately settin# out to win favour with the people0C .used to /ualify the second as a deviation fro" the .inferior 'inds of wor'0C .s and early )*+.popular0$ The history of cultural theory0s .well li'ed y "any people0C .s$ It is the definition of ideolo#y developed y the French 4ar2ist philosopher @ouis Althusser$ We shall discuss Althusser in "ore detail in Chapter B$ &ere I will si"ply outline so"e 'ey points a out one of his definitions of ideolo#y$ Althusser0s "ain contention is to see ideolo#y not si"ply as a ody of ideas! ut as a "aterial practice$ What he "eans y this is that ideolo#y is encountered in the practices of everyday life and not si"ply in certain ideas a out everyday life$ Principally! what Althusser has in "ind is the way in which certain rituals and custo"s have the effect of indin# us to the social order3 a social order that is "ar'ed y enor"ous ine/ualities of wealth! status and power$ Usin# this definition! we could descri e the seaside holiday or the cele ration of Christ"as as e2a"ples of ideolo#ical practices$ This would point to the way in which they offer pleasure and release fro" the usual de"ands of the social order! ut that! ulti"ately! they return us to our places in the social order! refreshed and ready to tolerate our e2ploitation and oppression until the ne2t official rea' co"es alon#$ In this sense! ideolo#y wor's to reproduce the social conditions and social relations necessary for the econo"ic conditions and econo"ic relations of capitalis" to continue$ So far we have riefly e2a"ined different ways of definin# culture and ideolo#y$ What should e clear y now is that culture and ideolo#y do cover "uch the sa"e conceptual landscape$ The "ain difference etween the" is that ideolo#y rin#s a political di"ension to the shared terrain$ In addition! the introduction of the concept of ideolo#y su##ests that relations of power and politics inescapa ly "ar' the culture1 ideolo#y landscapeC it su##ests that the study of popular culture a"ounts to so"ethin# "ore than a si"ple discussion of entertain"ent and leisure$ Popular culture There are various ways to define popular culture$ This oo' is of course in part a out that very process! a out the different ways in which various critical approaches have atte"pted to fi2 the "eanin# of popular culture$ Therefore! all I intend to do for the re"ainder of this chapter is to s'etch out si2 definitions of popular culture that in their different! #eneral ways! infor" the study of popular culture$ But first a few words a out the ter" .culture0 with the different "eanin#s of the ter" .ournalist! writer and co"edian$ A fifth definition is one that was very influential in the )*9.popular0$ Willia"s ()*+7.culture actually "ade y the people for the"selves0 (579-$ Clearly! then! any definition of popular culture will rin# into play a co"ple2 co" ination of the different "eanin#s of the ter" .
the officially sanctioned Fhi#h cultureG which in ter"s of oo' and record sales and audience ratin#s for television dra"atisations of the classics! can .ud#e"ents on a particular te2t or practice$ For e2a"ple! we "i#ht want to insist on for"al co"ple2ity$ In other words! to e real culture! it has to e difficult$ Bein# difficult thus ensures its e2clusive status as hi#h culture$ Its very difficulty literally e2cludes! an e2clusion that #uarantees the e2clusivity of its audience$ The French sociolo#ist Pierre Bourdieu ar#ues that cultural distinctions of this 'ind are often used to support class distinctions$ Taste is a deeply ideolo#ical cate#ory3 it functions as a "ar'er of .predisposed! consciously and deli erately or not! to fulfil a social function of le#iti"atin# social differences0 (?-$ This will e discussed in "ore detail in Chapters * and ).$ .ust culture! we "i#ht find that widely favoured or well li'ed y "any people included so "uch as to e virtually useless as a conceptual definition of popular culture$ Despite this pro le"! what is clear is that any definition of popular culture "ust include a /uantitative di"ension$ The popular of popular culture would see" to de"and it$ What is also clear! however! is that on its own! a /uantitative inde2 is not enou#h to provide an ade/uate definition of popular culture$ Such countin# would al"ost certainly include .:)-$ A second way of definin# popular culture is to su##est that it is the culture that is left over after we have decided what is hi#h culture$ Popular culture! in this definition! is a residual cate#ory! there to acco""odate te2ts and practices that fail to "eet the re/uired standards to /ualify as hi#h culture$ In other words! it is a definition of popular culture as inferior culture$ What the culture1popular culture test "i#ht include is a ran#e of value .class0 (usin# the ter" in a dou le sense to "ean oth a social econo"ic cate#ory and the su##estion of a particular level of /uality-$ For Bourdieu ()*+B-! the consu"ption of culture is .en#a#e"ent with popular culture is! therefore! a history of the different ways in which the two ter"s have een connected y theoretical la our within particular historical and social conte2ts$ An o vious startin# point in any atte"pt to define popular culture is to say that popular culture is si"ply culture that is widely favoured or well li'ed y "any people$ And! undou tedly! such a /uantitative inde2 would "eet the approval of "any people$ We could e2a"ine sales of oo's! sales of CDs and DEDs$ We could also e2a"ine attendance records at concerts! sportin# events! and festivals$ We could also scrutini=e "ar'et research fi#ures on audience preferences for different television pro#ra""es$ Such countin# would undou tedly tell us a #reat deal$ The difficulty "i#ht prove to e that! parado2ically! it tells us too "uch$ Unless we can a#ree on a fi#ure over which so"ethin# eco"es popular culture! and elow which it is .ustifia ly clai" to e FpopularG in this sense0 (Bennett! )*+.3 5.
July )**)! Pavarotti #ave a free concert in @ondon0s &yde Par'$ A out 5?.!...The Hfficial BBC >randstand World Cup The"e0$ Hther students lau#hed and "oc'ed$ But his co"plaint hi#hli#hts so"ethin# very si#nificant a out the hi#h1popular divide3 the elitist invest"ent that so"e put in its continuation$ Hn 7... a seat$0 The Daily Mirror ran an editorial in which it .$ Two thin#s a out the event are of interest to a student of popular culture$ The first is the enor"ous popularity of the event$ We could connect this with the fact that Pavarotti0s previous two al u"s (Essential Pavarotti 1 and Essential Pavarotti 2.Iessun Dor"a0 to nu" er one in the British charts$ Such co""ercial success on any /uantitative analysis would "a'e the co"poser! the perfor"er and the aria! popular culture$ 7 In fact! one student I 'now actually co"plained a out the way in which the aria had een supposedly devalued y its co""ercial success$ &e clai"ed that he now found it e" arrassin# to play the aria for fear that so"eone should thin' his "usical taste was si"ply the result of the aria ein# .! Pavarotti "ana#ed to ta'e .!.Iessun Dor"a0$ 8ven the "ost ri#orous defenders of hi#h culture would not want to e2clude Pavarotti or Puccini fro" its select enclave$ But in )**.I can0t afford to #o to posh opera houses with toffs and for' out J)... people were e2pected! ut ecause of heavy rain! the nu" er who actually attended was around ).had oth topped the British al u" charts$ &is o vious popularity would appear to call into /uestion any clear division etween hi#h and popular culture$ Second! the e2tent of his popularity would appear to threaten the class e2clusivity of a hi#h1popular divide$ It is therefore interestin# to note the way in which the event was reported in the "edia$ All the British ta loids carried news of the event on their front pa#es$ The Daily Mirror! for instance! had five pa#es devoted to the concert$ What the ta loid covera#e reveals is a clear atte"pt to define the event for popular culture$ The Sun /uoted a wo"an who said! .This definition of popular culture is often supported y clai"s that popular culture is "ass%produced co""ercial culture! whereas hi#h culture is the result of an individual act of creation$ The latter! therefore! deserves only a "oral and aesthetic responseC the for"er re/uires only a fleetin# sociolo#ical inspection to unloc' what little it has to offer$ Whatever the "ethod deployed! those who wish to "a'e the case for the division etween hi#h and popular culture #enerally insist that the division etween the two is a solutely clear$ 4oreover! not only is this division clear! it is transhistorical : fi2ed for all ti"e$ This latter point is usually insisted on! especially if the division is dependent on supposed essential te2tual /ualities$ There are "any pro le"s with this certainty$ For e2a"ple! Willia" Sha'espeare is now seen as the epito"e of hi#h culture! yet as late as the nineteenth century his wor' was very "uch a part of popular theatre$ ) The sa"e point can also e "ade a out Charles Dic'ens0s wor'$ Si"ilarly! film noir can e seen to have crossed the order supposedly separatin# popular and hi#h culture3 in other words! what started as popular cine"a is now the preserve of acade"ics and fil" clu s$ 5 Hne recent e2a"ple of cultural traffic "ovin# in the other direction is @uciano Pavarotti0s recordin# of Puccini0s .
so"e opera enthusiasts "i#ht thin' it all a it vul#ar0 (12"#$ e!s-$ Althou#h such co""ents invo'ed the spectre of hi#h%culture e2clusivity! they see"ed stran#ely at a loss to offer any purchase on the event$ The apparently o vious cultural division etween hi#h and popular culture no lon#er see"ed so o vious$ It suddenly see"ed that the cultural had een replaced y the econo"ic! revealin# a division etween .the est that has een thou#ht and said in the world0 (see Chapter 5-$ &all (5.the thousands0$ It was the event0s very popularity that forced the television news to confront! and ulti"ately to find wantin#! old cultural certainties$ This can e partly illustrated y returnin# to the contradictory "eanin# of the ter" .for the thousands $ $ $ who could never nor"ally afford a ni#ht with an operatic star0$ When the event was reported on television news pro#ra""es the followin# lunchti"e! the ta loid covera#e was included as part of the #eneral "eanin# of the event$ Both the BBC0s One O’clock e!s and ITE0s 12"#$ e!s! referred to the way in which the ta loids had covered the concert! and "oreover! the e%tent to which they had covered the concert$ The old certainties of the cultural landscape suddenly see"ed in dou t$ &owever! there was so"e atte"pt "ade to reintroduce the old certainties3 .cultural escalator0C "ore si#nificant are .popular0$B Hn the one hand! so"ethin# is said to e #ood ecause it is popular$ An e2a"ple of this usa#e would e3 it was a popular perfor"ance$ Ket! on the other hand! so"ethin# is said to e ad for the very sa"e reason$ Consider the inary oppositions in Ta le )$)$ This de"onstrates /uite clearly the way in which popular and popular culture carries within its definitional field connotations of inferiorityC a second% est culture for those una le to understand! let alone appreciate! real culture : what 4atthew Arnold refers to as ."ass culture0$ This draws heavily on the previous definition$ The "ass culture perspective will e discussed in so"e detail in Chapter 5C therefore all I want to do here is to su##est the asic ter"s of this definition$ The first point that those who refer to popular culture as "ass culture want to esta lish is that popular culture is a hopelessly co""ercial culture$ It is "assproduced for "ass consu"ption$ Its audience is a "ass of non%discri"inatin# consu"ers$ The culture itself is for"ulaic! "anipulative (to the political .so"e critics said that a par' is no place for opera0 (One O’clock e!s-C .clai"ed that Pavarotti0s perfor"ance .ar#ues that what is i"portant here is not the fact that popular for"s "ove up and down the .inferior0 culture$ Popular press Popular cine" Popular entertain"ent Nuality press Art cine"a Art A third way of definin# popular culture is as .the forces and relations which sustain the distinction! the difference $ $ $ LtheM institutions and institutional processes $ $ $ re/uired to sustain each and to continually "ar' the difference etween the"0 (?)B-$ This is principally the wor' of the education syste" and its pro"otion of a selective tradition (see Chapter 7-$ Ta le )$) Popular culture as ..* .wasn0t for the rich0 ut .the rich0 and .
points out! .of e"er#in# for"s of popular culture$ As with the "ass culture perspective #enerally! there are political left and political ri#ht versions of the ar#u"ent$ What are under threat are either the traditional values of hi#h culture! or the traditional way of life of a . per cent of new products fail despite e2tensive advertisin# $ $ $ "any fil"s fail to recover even their pro"otional costs at the o2 office0 (7)-$ Si"on Frith ()*+73 )B9.has pointed out! .ust an i"posed and i"poverished culture! it is in a clear identifia le sense an i"ported A"erican culture3 .popular culture has een socially and institutionally central in A"erica for lon#er and in a "ore si#nificant way than in 8urope0 (9-$ Second! althou#h the availa ility of A"erican culture worldwide is undou ted! how what is availa le is consu"ed is at the very least contradictory (see Chapter *-$ What is true is that in the )*?.-$ Those wor'in# within the "ass culture perspective usually have in "ind a previous .lost0 or#anic co""unity$ The Fran'furt School! as we shall see in Chapter B! locate the lost #olden a#e! not in the past! ut in the future$ For so"e cultural critics wor'in# within the "ass culture paradi#"! "ass culture is not .#olden a#e0 when cultural "atters were very different$ This usually ta'es one of two for"s3 a lost or#anic co""unity or a lost fol' culture$ But as Fis'e ()*+*a.ri#ht or left! dependin# on who is doin# the analysis-$ It is a culture that is consu"ed with rainnu" ed and rain%nu" in# passivity$ But as John Fis'e ()*+*a.points out! .s (one of the 'ey periods of A"ericani=ation-! for "any youn# people in Britain! A"erican culture represented a force of li eration a#ainst the #rey certainties of British everyday life$ What is also clear is that the fear of A"ericani=ation is closely related to a distrust (re#ardless of national ori#in. etween +.te"pted0 wor'in# class$ There is what we "i#ht call a eni#n version of the "ass culture perspective$ The te2ts and practices of popular culture are seen as .In capitalist societies there is no so%called authentic fol' culture a#ainst which to "easure the FinauthenticityG of "ass culture! so e"oanin# the loss of the authentic is a fruitless e2ercise in ro"antic nostal#ia0 (59-$ This also holds true for the .also points out that a out +.A"ericani=ation0$ Its central the"e is that British culture has declined under the ho"o#eni=in# influence of A"erican culture$ There are two thin#s we can say with so"e confidence a out the United States and popular culture$ First! as Andrew 6oss ()*+*. per cent of sin#les and al u"s lose "oney$ Such statistics should clearly call into /uestion the notion of consu"ption as an auto"atic and passive activity (see Chapters 9 and ). and *.If popular culture in its "odern for" was invented in any one place! it was $ $ $ in the #reat cities of the United States! and a ove all in Iew Kor'0 (4alt y! )*+*3 ))C "y italics-$ The clai" that popular culture is A"erican culture has a lon# history within the theoretical "appin# of popular culture$ It operates under the ter" .
3 59-$ Hne pro le" with this approach is the /uestion of who /ualifies for inclusion in the cate#ory .readin# positions0$ There is little space for reader activity or te2tual contradiction$ Part of post%structuralis"0s criti/ue of structuralis" is the openin# up of a critical space in which such /uestions can e addressed$ Chapter < will consider these issues in so"e detail$ A fourth definition contends that popular culture is the culture that ori#inates fro" .or source of sy" olic protest within conte"porary capitalis"0 (Bennett! )*+.co""ercial0 nature of "uch of the resources fro" which popular culture is "ade$ Io "atter how "uch we "i#ht insist on this definition! the fact re"ains that people do not spontaneously produce culture fro" raw "aterials of their own "a'in#$ Whatever popular culture is! what is certain is that its raw "aterials are those which are co""ercially provided$ This approach tends to avoid the full i"plications of this fact$ Critical analysis of pop and roc' "usic is particularly replete with this 'ind of analysis of popular culture$ At a conference I once attended! a contri ution fro" the floor su##ested that @evi .eans are "ass culture! the "usic of The Ja" is popular culture defined as an oppositional culture of .often e/uated with a hi#hly ro"anticised concept of wor'in#%class culture construed as the "a.authentic0 culture of .the people0$ It ta'es issue with any approach that su##ests that it is so"ethin# i"posed on .clai"s! popular culture provides .wishes and desires$ This is a eni#n version of the "ass culture criti/ue ecause! as 4alt y points out! .for"s of pu lic fantasy$ Popular culture is understood as a collective drea" world$ As 6ichard 4alt y ()*+*.sellin# out0$ As this was not #oin# to .the people0$ Another pro le" with it is that it evades the .If it is the cri"e of popular culture that it has ta'en our drea"s and pac'a#ed the" and sold the" ac' to us! it is also the achieve"ent of popular culture that it has rou#ht us "ore and "ore varied drea"s than we could otherwise ever have 'nown0 (i id$-$ Structuralis"! althou#h not usually placed within the "ass culture perspective! and certainly not sharin# its "oralistic approach! nevertheless sees popular culture as a sort of ideolo#ical "achine which "ore or less effortlessly reproduces the prevailin# structures of power$ 6eaders are seen as loc'ed into specific .the people0 fro" a ove$ Accordin# to this definition! the ter" should only e used to indicate an .escapis" that is not an escape fro" or to anywhere! ut an escape of our utopian selves0 ()B-$ In this sense! cultural practices such as Christ"as and the seaside holiday! it could e ar#ued! function in "uch the sa"e way as drea"s3 they articulate! in a dis#uised for"! collective ( ut repressed.the people0$ This is popular culture as fol' culture3 a culture of the people for the people$ As a definition of popular culture! it is .the people0$ The only way the two could "eet would e throu#h The Ja" .eans would never e a le to use a son# fro" The Ja" to sell its products$ The fact that they had already used a son# y The Clash would not sha'e this conviction$ What underpinned this conviction was a clear sense of cultural difference : television co""ercials for @evi .
race0! #ender! ..calls a ..resistance0 of su ordinate #roups and the forces of ."i2ed0 in different per"utations (*<-$ The co"pro"ise e/uili riu" of he#e"ony can also e e"ployed to analyse different types of conflict within and across popular culture$ Bennett hi#hli#hts class conflict! ut he#e"ony theory can also e used to e2plore and e2plain conflicts involvin# ethnicity! .intellectual and "oral leadership0 (9?-! see' to win the consent of su ordinate #roups in society$ This will e discussed in so"e detail in Chapter B$ What I want to do here is to offer a #eneral outline of how cultural theorists have ta'en >ra"sci0s political concept and used it to e2plain the nature and politics of popular culture$ Those usin# this approach see popular culture as a site of stru##le etween the .the people0 : it is a terrain of e2chan#e and ne#otiation etween the two3 a terrain! as already stated! "ar'ed y resistance and incorporation$ The te2ts and practices of popular culture "ove within what >ra"sci ()*9).co"pro"ise e/uili riu"0 ()<)-$ The process is historical (la elled popular culture one "o"ent! and another 'ind of culture the ne2t-! ut it is also synchronic ("ovin# etween resistance and incorporation at any #iven historical "o"ent-$ For instance! the seaside holiday e#an as an aristocratic event and within a hundred years it had eco"e an e2a"ple of popular culture$ &ilm noir started as despised popular cine"a and within thirty years had eco"e art cine"a$ In #eneral ter"s! those loo'in# at popular culture fro" the perspective of he#e"ony theory tend to see it as a terrain of ideolo#ical stru##le etween do"inant and su ordinate classes! do"inant and su ordinate cultures$ As Bennett (5.uses the ter" .he#e"ony0 to refer to the way in which do"inant #roups in society! throu#h a process of .happen! @evi .eans would never use a son# y The Ja" to sell its products$ But this had already happened to The Clash! a and with e/ually sound political credentials$ This circular e2chan#e stalled to a stop$ The cultural studies use of the concept of he#e"ony would have! at the very least! fuelled further discussion (see Chapter B-$ A fifth definition of popular culture! then! is one that draws on the political analysis of the Italian 4ar2ist Antonio >ra"sci! particularly on his develop"ent of the concept of he#e"ony$ >ra"sci (5.incorporation0 operatin# in the interests of do"inant #roups$ Popular culture in this usa#e is not the i"posed culture of the "ass culture theorists! nor is it an e"er#in# fro" elow! spontaneously oppositional culture of .*e2plains! The field of popular culture is structured y the atte"pt of the rulin# class to win he#e"ony and y for"s of opposition to this endeavour$ As such! it consists not si"ply of an i"posed "ass culture that is coincident with do"inant ideolo#y! nor si"ply of spontaneously oppositional cultures! ut is rather an area of ne#otiation etween the two within which : in different particular types of popular culture : do"inant! su ordinate and oppositional cultural and ideolo#ical values and ele"ents are .*.
a process of disarticulation:articulation0 (57)-$ The Conservative Party political roadcast! discussed earlier! reveals this process in action$ What was ein# atte"pted was the disarticulation of socialis" as a political "ove"ent concerned with econo"ic! social and political e"ancipation! in favour of its articulation as a political "ove"ent concerned to i"pose restraints on individual freedo"$ Also! as we shall see in Chapter 9! fe"inis" has always reco#ni=ed the i"portance of cultural stru##le within the contested landscape of popular culture$ Fe"inist presses have pu lished science fiction! detective fiction and ro"ance fiction$ Such cultural interventions represent an atte"pt to articulate popular #enres for fe"inist politics$ It is also possi le! usin# he#e"ony theory! to locate the stru##le etween resistance and incorporation as ta'in# place within and across individual popular te2ts and practices$ 6ay"ond Willia"s ()*+.#eneration! se2uality! disa ility! etc$ : all are at different "o"ents en#a#ed in for"s of cultural stru##le a#ainst the ho"o#eni=in# forces of incorporation of the official or do"inant culture$ The 'ey concept in this use of he#e"ony theory! especially in post%4ar2ist cultural studies (see Chapter B-! is the concept of .has "odified the "odel to ta'e into account discourse and su .e"er#ent0 and .do"inant0! and .* -! for instance! ar#ues that popular culture is a contested site for political constructions of .the power loc0 (see Chapter B-3 .the people0 and their relation to .do"inant0! ..-$ .a.residual0 : each pullin# the te2t in a different direction$ Thus a te2t is "ade up of a contradictory "i2 of different cultural forces$ &ow these ele"ents are articulated will depend in part on the social circu"stances and historical conditions of production and consu"ption$ &all ()*+.calls .su##ests that we can identify different "o"ents within a popular te2t or practice : what he calls .ne#otiated0$ David 4orley ()*+.articulation0 (the word ein# e"ployed in its dou le sense to "ean oth to e2press and to "a'e a te"porary connection-$ Popular culture is "ar'ed y what Chantal 4ouffe ()*+).the people0 refers neither to everyone nor to a sin#le #roup within society ut to a variety of social #roups which! althou#h differin# fro" one another in other respects (their class position or the particular stru##les in which they are "ost i""ediately en#a#ed-! are distin#uished fro" the econo"ically! politically and culturally powerful #roups within society and are hence potentially capa le of ein# united : of ein# or#anised into .uses Willia"s0s insi#ht to construct a theory of readin# positions3 .the people0$ &all (5.the people versus the power loc0 : if their separate stru##les are connected (Bennett! )*+<3 5..su ordinate0! .ectivity3 seein# readin# as always an interaction etween the discourses of the te2t and the discourses of the reader$ There is another aspect of popular culture that is su##ested y he#e"ony theory$ This is the clai" that theories of popular culture are really theories a out the constitution of .
-! that popular culture is what people "a'e fro" the products of the culture industries : "ass culture is the repertoire! popular culture is what people actively "a'e fro" it! actually do with the co""odities and co""odified practices they consu"e$ A si2th definition of popular culture is one infor"ed y recent thin'in# around the de ate on post"odernis"$ This will e the su .se"iotic0 use of >ra"sci0s concept of he#e"ony$ Fis'e ar#ues! as does Paul Willis fro" a sli#htly different perspective (also discussed in Chapter ).co""ercial0 culture.What is ein# sold3 son# or product?0 I suppose the o vious answer is oth$ 4oreover! it is now possi le to uy CDs that consist of the son#s that have eco"e successful! or have eco"e successful a#ain! as a result of ein# used in advertise"ents$ There is a wonderful circularity to this3 son#s are used to sell products and the fact that they do this successfully is then used to sell the son#s$ For those with little sy"pathy for either post"odernis" or the cele ratory theori=in# of so"e post"odernists! the real /uestion is3 .What is such a relationship doin# to culture?0 Those on the political left "i#ht worry a out its effect on the oppositional possi ilities of popular culture$ Those on the political ri#ht "i#ht worry a out what it is doin# to the status of real culture$ This has resulted in a sustained de ate in cultural studies$ The si#nificance of popular culture is central to this de ate$ This! and other /uestions! will e e2plored in Chapter *$ The chapter .ect of Chapter *$ All I want to do now is to draw attention to so"e of the asic points in the de ate a out the relationship etween post"odernis" and popular culture$ The "ain point to insist on here is the clai" that post"odern culture is a culture that no lon#er reco#ni=es the distinction etween hi#h and popular culture$ As we shall see! for so"e this is a reason to cele rate an end to an elitis" constructed on ar itrary distinctions of cultureC for others it is a reason to despair at the final victory of co""erce over culture$ An e2a"ple of the supposed interpenetration of co""erce and culture (the post"odern lurrin# of the distinction etween .can e found in the relationship etween television co""ercials and pop "usic$ For e2a"ple! there is a #rowin# list of artists who have had hit records as a result of their son#s appearin# in television co""ercials$ Hne of the /uestions this relationship raises is3 .! I will consider John Fis'e0s .This is of course to "a'e popular culture a profoundly political concept$ Popular culture is a site where the construction of everyday life "ay e e2a"ined$ The point of doin# this is not only acade"ic : that is! as an atte"pt to understand a process or practice : it is also political! to e2a"ine the power relations that constitute this for" of everyday life and thus reveal the confi#urations of interests its construction serves (Turner! )**<3 <-$ In Chapter ).authentic0 and .
cash ne2us0 (/uoted in 4orris! )*9*3 55-$ Second! ur ani=ation produced a residential separation of classes$ For the first ti"e in British history there were whole sections of towns and cities inha ited only y wor'in# "en and wo"en$ Third! the panic en#endered y the French 6evolution : the fear that it "i#ht e i"ported into Britain : encoura#ed successive #overn"ents to enact a variety of repressive "easures ai"ed at defeatin# radicalis"$ Political radicalis" and trade unionis" were not destroyed! ut driven under#round to or#ani=e eyond the influence of "iddle%class interference and control$ These three factors co" ined to produce a cultural space outside of the paternalist considerations of the earlier co""on culture$ The result was the production of a cultural space for the #eneration of a popular culture "ore or less outside the controllin# influence of the do"inant classes$ &ow this space was filled was a su .ect of so"e controversy for the foundin# fathers of culturalis" (see Chapter 7-$ Whatever we decide was its content! the an2ieties en#endered y the new cultural space were directly responsi le for the e"er#ence of the .Foreword0 to 'ulture and Society! .ar#ues in the .7-$ As a result of industriali=ation and ur ani=ation! three thin#s happened! which to#ether had the effect of redrawin# the cultural "ap$ First of all! industriali=ation chan#ed the relations etween e"ployees and e"ployers$ This involved a shift fro" a relationship ased on "utual o li#ation to one ased solely on the de"ands of what Tho"as Carlyle calls the ..will also address! fro" the perspective of the student of popular culture! the /uestion3 .The or#anisin# principle of this oo' is the discovery that the idea of culture! and the word itself in its #eneral "odern uses! ca"e into 8n#lish thin'in# in the period which we co""only descri e as that of the Industrial 6evolution0 ())-$ It is a definition of culture and popular culture that depends on there ein# in place a capitalist "ar'et econo"y$ This of course "a'es Britain the first country to produce popular culture defined in this historically restricted way$ There are other ways to define popular culture! which do not depend on this particular history or these particular circu"stances! ut they are definitions that fall outside the ran#e of the cultural theorists and the cultural theory discussed in this oo'$ The ar#u"ent! which underpins this particular periodi=ation of popular culture! is that the e2perience of industriali=ation and ur ani=ation chan#ed funda"entally the cultural relations within the landscape of popular culture$ Before industriali=ation and ur ani=ation! Britain had two cultures3 a co""on culture which was shared! "ore or less! y all classes! and a separate elite culture produced and consu"ed y the do"inant classes in society (see Bur'e! )**BC Storey! 5.culture and civili=ation0 approach to popular culture (see Chapter 5-$ .What is post"odernis"?0 Finally! what all these definitions have in co""on is the insistence that whatever else popular culture is! it is definitely a culture that only e"er#ed followin# industriali=ation and ur ani=ation$ As Willia"s ()*<7.
-$ This of course "a'es an understandin# of the ran#e of ways of theori=in# popular culture all the "ore i"portant$ This oo'! then! is a out the theori=in# that has rou#ht us to our present state of thin'in# on popular culture$ It is a out how the chan#in# terrain of popular culture has een e2plored and "apped y different cultural theorists and different theoretical approaches$ It is upon their shoulders that we stand when we thin' critically a out popular culture$ The ai" of this oo' is to introduce readers to the different ways in which popular culture has een analysed and the different popular cultures that have een articulated as a result of the process of analysis$ For it "ust e re"e" ered that popular culture is not a historically fi2ed set of popular te2ts and practices! nor is it a historically fi2ed conceptual cate#ory$ The o .Popular culture as other What should e clear y now is that the ter" .indicates! .clai" that! .no sin#le or FcorrectG way of resolvin# these pro le"sC only a series of different solutions which have different i"plications and effects0 (+<-$ The "ain purpose of this oo' is to chart the "any pro le"s encountered! and the "any solutions su##ested! in cultural theory0s co"ple2 en#a#e"ent with popular culture$ As we shall discover! there is a lot of #round etween Arnold0s view of popular culture as .popular culture0 is not as definitionally o vious as we "i#ht have first thou#ht$ A #reat deal of the difficulty arises fro" the absent other which always haunts any definition we "i#ht use$ It is never enou#h to spea' of popular cultureC we have always to ac'nowled#e that with which it is ein# contrasted$ And whichever of popular culture0s others we e"ploy! "ass culture! hi#h culture! wor'in#%class culture! fol' culture! etc$! it will carry into the definition of popular culture a specific theoretical and political inflection$ .ect under theoretical scrutiny is oth historically varia le! and always in part constructed y the very act of theoretical en#a#e"ent$ This is further co"plicated y the fact that different theoretical perspectives have tended to focus on particular areas of the popular cultural landscape$ The "ost co""on division is etween the study of te2ts (popular fiction! television! pop "usic! etc$.anarchy0 and Dic' &e di#e0s ()*++.There is0! as Bennett ()*+5a.and lived cultures or practices (seaside holidays! youth su cultures! the cele ration of Christ"as! etc$-$ The ai" of this oo'! therefore! is to provide readers with a "ap of the terrain to ena le the" to e#in their own e2plorations! to e#in their own "appin# of the "ain theoretical and political de ates that have characteri=ed the study of popular culture$ .In the West popular culture is no lon#er "ar#inal! still less su terranean$ 4ost of the ti"e and for "ost people it si"ply is culture$0 Hr! as >eoffrey Iowell%S"ith ()*+9.popular cultural for"s have "oved so far towards centre sta#e in British cultural life that the separate e2istence of a distinctive popular culture in an oppositional relation to hi#h culture is now in /uestion0 (+.notes! .
the circuit of culture0$ Fis'e! John! *eadin.Further readin# Storey! John (ed$-! 'ultural Theory and Popular 'ulture( ) *eader ! Bth edition! &arlow3 Pearson 8ducation! 5.$ A "i2ed collection of essays! so"e interestin# and useful! others too unsure a out how seriously to ta'e popular culture$ Du >ay! Paul! Stuart &all! @inda Janes! &u#h 4ac'ay and Aeith Ie#us! Doin.the Popular! @ondon3 Unwin &y"an! )*+*$ A collection of essays analysin# different e2a"ples of popular culture$ Fis'e! John! /nderstandin.alkman ! @ondon3 Sa#e! )**9$ An e2cellent introduction to so"e of the 'ey issues in cultural studies$ Certainly worth readin# for the e2planation of .'ultural Studies( The Story of the Sony ..*$ This is the co"panion volu"e to this oo'$ It contains e2a"ples of "ost of the wor' discussed here$ This oo' and the co"panion 6eader are supported y an interactive we site (www$pearsoned$co$u'1storey-$ The we site has lin's to other useful sites and electronic resources$ A##er! Ben! 'ultural Studies as 'ultural Theory! @ondon3 Fal"er Press! )**5$ As the title i"plies! this is a oo' a out cultural studies written fro" a perspective sy"pathetic to the Fran'furt School$ It offers so"e useful co""entary on popular culture! especially Chapter 53 .Popular culture as serious usiness0$ Allen! 6o ert C$ (ed$-! 'hannels of Discourse+ *eassembled! @ondon3 6outled#e! )**5$ Althou#h this collection is specifically focused on television! it contains so"e e2cellent essays of #eneral interest to the student of popular culture$ Bennett! Tony! Colin 4ercer and Janet Woollacott (eds-! Popular 'ulture and Social *elations! 4ilton Aeynes3 Hpen University Press! )*+<$ An interestin# collection of essays! coverin# oth theory and analysis$ Broo'er! Peter! ) 'oncise .lossary of 'ultural Theory ! @ondon3 8dward Arnold! )***$ A rilliant #lossary of the 'ey ter"s in cultural theory$ Day! >ary (ed$-! *eadin-s in Popular 'ulture! @ondon3 4ac"illan! )**.Popular 'ulture! @ondon3 Unwin &y"an! )*+*$ A clear presentation of his particular approach to the study of popular culture$ .
i! Chandra and 4ichael Schudson (eds-! *ethinkin.Popular 'ulture! 4alden! 4A3 Blac'well! 5...Throu-h Practice ! @ondon3 Sa#e! 5.+$ Another e2cellent introduction to cultural studies3 useful! infor"ative and funny$ .>oodall! Peter! 0i-h 'ulture+ Popular 'ulture( The 1on.Popular 'ulture! Ber'eley3 University of California Press! )**)$ A collection of essays! with an infor"ed and interestin# introduction$ The oo' is helpfully divided into sections on different approaches to popular culture3 historical! anthropolo#ical! sociolo#ical and cultural$ Iare"ore! Ja"es and Patric' Brantlin#er! Modernity and Mass 'ulture! Bloo"in#ton and Indianapolis3 Indiana University Press! )**)$ A useful and interestin# collection of essays on cultural theory and popular culture$ Storey! John! 2nventin.'ultural Studies( 1earnin.7$ An historical account of the concept of popular culture$ Strinati! Do"inic! )n 2ntroduction to Theories of Popular 'ulture ! @ondon3 6outled#e! )**?$ A clear and co"prehensive introduction to theories of popular culture$ Tolson! Andrew! Mediations( Te%t and Discourse in Media Studies ! @ondon3 8dward Arnold! )**<$ An e2cellent introduction to the study of popular "edia culture$ Turner! >rae"e! 3ritish 'ultural Studies! 5nd edn! @ondon3 6outled#e! )**<$ Still the est introduction to British cultural studies$ Walton! David! 2ntroducin.Debate ! St @eonards3 Allen O Unwin! )**?$ The oo' traces the de ate etween hi#h and popular culture! with particular! ut not e2clusive! reference to the Australian e2perience! fro" the ei#hteenth century to the present day$ 4ilner! Andrew! 'ontemporary 'ultural Studies! 5nd edn! @ondon3 UC@ Press! )**B$ A useful introduction to conte"porary cultural theory$ 4u'er.
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