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Culture and Popular Culture: A Case for
Sociology
 Examines the sociological analysis of popular culture, largely
influenced by the sociology of culture but not confined t...
 Schudson and Mukerji: Beliefs and practices widely
shared within a given population, and the objects
that embody those b...
 Production of culture: empirical study of culture-producing
organizations within specific institutional contexts. This p...
 Significant work on popular culture comes from outside of
sociology, and much is interdisciplinary.
 Importance of cult...
 Consolidation of the media. On the one hand, more power for
corporations than ever before, on the other, more agency for...
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Laura Grindstaff: Culture and Popular Culture

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Laura Grindstaff: Culture and Popular Culture

  1. 1. Culture and Popular Culture: A Case for Sociology
  2. 2.  Examines the sociological analysis of popular culture, largely influenced by the sociology of culture but not confined to it.  2 major issues: extreme interdisciplinarity and bias towards a mass media conceptualization.  LG argues for the unique contributions that sociology can make to the study of popular culture.  Raymond Williams four uses of ‘popular’: ◦ 1) liked by many people, ◦ 2) inferior culture, ◦ 3) work that seeks to be popular, ◦ 4) people's culture: made by and for 'the people'.  Associating popular culture with 'mass culture' gives it a negative value.
  3. 3.  Schudson and Mukerji: Beliefs and practices widely shared within a given population, and the objects that embody those beliefs and organize those practices. Inclusive definition.  Levine: folklore of industrial society.  Key sociological questions about popular culture: "How is it produced and consumed? How is it read and understood? How does it intersect with other aspects of cultural, political, and economic life? What are its sociological “effects” and implications, broadly speaking?”
  4. 4.  Production of culture: empirical study of culture-producing organizations within specific institutional contexts. This perspective developed partly in response to political denunciations of popular culture as mere consequence of market demands and capitalist processes. This perspective looks at the unique role played by specific industries and their politics, structure and norms.  Shortcoming of the production of culture perspective: inattention to the issue of meaning and the role that consumers play in producing meaning.  Consumption and interpretation perspectives. Focus on how audiences consume media. Often, audiences read cultural texts in surprising ways.  Textual analysis/media studies: focus on 'politics of representation'  Fandom (Harrington and Bielby)  Ethnographic and historical research
  5. 5.  Significant work on popular culture comes from outside of sociology, and much is interdisciplinary.  Importance of cultural studies, especially Birmingham School. Focus on youth culture, sub-cultures and working-class cultures. Heavily influenced by Gramsci's concept of hegemony.  Also influenced by the Frankfurt School.  Tendency in American versions of cultural studies to be less interdisciplinary. ◦ Regarding the relationship between cultural sociology and cultural studies: "while cultural studies scholars often see sociologists as apolitical and inattentive to power relations, sociologists lament cultural studies’ lack of methodological rigor.”  Tendency to treat popular culture as mass media, rendering it the domain of media studies and communications rather than sociology. ◦ Need to understand media changes as social changes, not just institutional shifts.
  6. 6.  Consolidation of the media. On the one hand, more power for corporations than ever before, on the other, more agency for individuals. Those with money and education benefit more in this situation.  New relationship between popular culture and populism, which is not restricted now to the left. Suggests contrasting production of right-wing populism with its reception.

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