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43 review for Popular Culture: A User's Guide

  1. 4 out of 5

    Grace (BURTSBOOKS)

    i read this entire textbook for school so there's literally no way I'm not including it in my reading challenge i read this entire textbook for school so there's literally no way I'm not including it in my reading challenge

  2. 4 out of 5


    objectively this textbook was informative but i was bored so idk how to rate it

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Sark

    Chapter 1 – Introducing Popular Culture p.9 – Discussion Questions: • What is culture? • What is popular culture? • What / Who defines the popular? • Does commercialism destroy the authenticity of a cultural product or practice? • Or does the authenticity of an object or practice increase its commercial value and potential? • How do values like authenticity and commercialism apply to cultural expression on social media? p.10 – Capitalism – an economic system based on private ownership of the means Chapter 1 – Introducing Popular Culture p.9 – Discussion Questions: • What is culture? • What is popular culture? • What / Who defines the popular? • Does commercialism destroy the authenticity of a cultural product or practice? • Or does the authenticity of an object or practice increase its commercial value and potential? • How do values like authenticity and commercialism apply to cultural expression on social media? p.10 – Capitalism – an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and distribution and geared toward the generation of profit. It is the dominant economic system in the world today. p.11 – These brutal elements of capitalism were particularly evident during the heyday of European colonialism form the 17th to the 19th centuries. During this period, the exploitation of resources and enslavement of people from the non-European world helped make possible the massive accumulation of wealth enjoyed by a relatively small percentage of Europeans. Postmodern – also referred to as post-industrial or late – capitalism is distinguished by the fact that by comparison to earlier eras of capitalism there is now a far greater emphasis on the exchange of information and services (software and banking) as opposed to hard goods (steel and cars) in an economy that has become globally integrated. Chapter 2 – The History of Popular Culture p.44 – Ideology – refers to the process by which the set of values and beliefs that bind individuals together in a society become “naturalized.” The belief and value systems of any given society are the outcomes of history, that is, of collective human activity that gives shape to the characteristic features of a society. Discussion questions: • Is class consciousness a significant force in the world today? • Where and how is it manifested? • How, if at all, is politics shaped by class concerns? • How are hopes for radical social transformation expressed today? • What role does popular culture play in promoting or subduing these hopes? p.48 – Discussion Questions: • Are cultural activities still segregated today? • If so, how is participation formally (or informally) restricted? • To whom do restrictive conditions apply? p.52 – Hegemony – Developed by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) in the 1930s, the concept refers to the ability of dominant groups in society to exercise control over weaker groups, not by means of domination but by gaining their consent, so that the unequal distribution of power appears to be both legitimate and natural. In other words, hegemony operates not by forcing people, against their better judgment, to submit to more powerful interests but rather by actively seeking the spontaneous cooperation of subordinate classes in maintaining social relationships that continue their subordination. Hegemony, significantly, is never total, but operates in constant struggle with newly emerging forms of oppositional consciousness. It works not by crushing those forces but by a constant process of negotiation. p.53 – According to Marshall McLuhan, innovation in media technology – photography, radio, film, television – have all influenced culture and consciousness in profound ways, some, paradoxically, taking us back to preliterate tribal ways of conceiving the world, enabling the creation of the so-called global village. Based on your own and others’ uses of contemporary media, how do you think that technology enhances or limits different forms of perception and mental or social engagement? Chapter 3 – Representation and the Construction of Social Reality p.71 – What is Semiotics? p.79 – Discussion Questions: • Consider some of the ways in which meaning is encoded in clothing today • How do items of clothing or combinations of items come to signify a threat or affront to the dominant social order? • How do other aspects of the wearer’s physical appearance – for example, gender or race – shape the way these items of clothing get interpreted? • How do other aspects of context, such as location, activities, the presence of other people, shape interpretation? • Can you think of instances of resignification, whereby closing shifts from a negative to a neutral or positive connotation? • How do such shifts occur? • How much agency do individuals have in determining how others read what hey are wearing? p.82 – Consensus – The process of assuming and building consensus is, according to Hall et al., a key aspect of traditional news production. “Consensual views of society represent society as if there are no major cultural or economic breaks, no major conflicts or interests between classes and groups. Whatever disagreements exist, there are legitimate and institutionalized means for expressing and reconciling them.” In the mid- 1990s and early 2000s, satirical programs such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report came to dominate the news media landscape, serving as the principle view on current events for many people. Even as they mocked traditional ways of creating consensus (by offering a tongue-in-cheek defence of “conservative values”), these shows clearly cultivated different models of belonging. More recently, “aggregator” sites such as Buzzfeed, Gawker, and Mic filter the content of other news sites, offering readers and viewers a selective range of stories targeted to specific interests (news apps further personalize news feeds, based on viewers’ browsing histories).  What are your primary sources of news? How do they create consensus among viewers? What values do these outlets reflect and / or try to instill? p.83 – Nowhere, perhaps, is the consensus-building function of news more evident than in stories about crime. Crime is a dominant feature in the news in part because it so nicely fits the general ideological criteria for what Hall et al. term “news value” – it is out of the ordinary; it is dramatic in a tragic way; it is easily personalized; and it can be incorporated into a broader pattern of stories. As with all events deemed newsworthy, the media make crime stories meaningful by identifying them and placing them in a context familiar to the audience – that is, locating them “within a range of known social and cultural identifications.” p.101 – Discussion Questions: Try to identify the patterns in your own responses to different forms of popular culture.  How, and to what extent, is pleasure moderated by critical consciousness and vice versa?  How do your responses to popular cultural texts change depending on the nature of the text, the circumstances in which you are watching / reading / listening to it, or the people you are with? p.102 – It is no accident that Horkheimer and Adorno formulated their culture industry thesis in the context of the buildup of fascism in 1930sand 1940s Germany. A large part of their horror at the potential for mass media to lull people into an acceptance of brutal social regimes stemmed from the fact that audiences of Nazi propaganda were being lulled into such aa state – to the point of accepting the slaughter of thousands of innocent people. What makes Horkheimer and Adorno’s thesis particularly provocative is their argument that this media power extended to the United States, where the ideologies of industrialism and progress helped to create a mass media machine and an audience particularly receptive to its products. p.105 – We argue for the necessity of paying critical attention to the words and images that mediate our social lives. Chapter 4 – The Production of Popular Culture p.114 – The Frankfurt School – The social theorists Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) and Theodor Adorno (1903-69) were the first people to use the term culture industry to describe the conditions in which contemporary culture was produced. In Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), Horkheimer and Adorno pushed culture and industry together in an effort to create a new consciousness about the changed conditions of cultural production in contemporary societies. It was, at the time, a revolutionary way of thinking about culture. Over the past 70 years, the cultural industry thesis has generated an enormous range of debates and discussions. p.115 – The Frankfurt School, established in 1923, was a group of innovative social theorists whose ideas remain important decades after the school itself – the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt – was formally dissolved. Members of the Frankfurt School included Horkheimer, Adorno, philosopher Herbert Marcuse, psychologist Erich Fromm, and sociologist Leo Lowenthal. The goal of the independent research centre was the elaboration of a “critical theory” of society. Critical theory has since become the name for a diverse set of practices in social and cultural theory, philosophy, and literary studies. It was meant to preserve critical reflection on the possibilities and problems of contemporary society as a way of continuing the political work of achieving human freedom. p.117 – The subtitle of the chapter on the culture industry in the Dialectic of Enlightenment says it all: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.” The culture industry produces culture that is designed to mislead those engaged in it. What the culture industry creates – what we now describe as mass or popular culture – has for Horkheimer and Adorno only one real function: to reproduce incessantly the values of capitalist culture. In the late 19th century, Karl Marx analyzed the exploitation of workers by capitalists in the factory system. The existence of the culture industry is one of the main reasons that, over the course of more than a century, little had been done about the exploitation of labour. The culture industry deceives by making it difficult, if not impossible, to see the social limits of a life that appears to be filled with an endless degree of consumer choice and in which one can at least engage in amusements of various kinds after the workday is done. For Horkheimer and Adorno, these choices and pleasures are false ones, and the function of amusement is little more than “the prolongation of work.” p.126 – Discussion Questions: • How does Horkheimer and Adorno’s cultural industry thesis relate to your own experience of popular culture and media? • What do they get right? • Where does their argument miss the boat? p.143 – Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class (2002) detailed the shift in developed countries from factory production to creative economies propelled by ideas and high-tech innovation. Creative economies flourish in “creative cities” – places like San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Boston, and Toronto in which well-educated engineers and designers want to live. Such cities are liberal, artsy, diverse, tolerant, and open to new ideas. Creative cities bring together lifestyle and production. Creative economies produce high-tech services as well as elements that make up a contemporary urban lifestyle; and in turn, whose who work in such industries want access to the experiences and atmosphere of the lifestyles they are producing. Work and life have come together as never before. Chapter 5 – The Consuming Life p.152 – Discussion Questions: • When do you shop? • Do you ever find yourself deciding to “go shopping” to reward yourself, to alleviate stress, to buy gifts for others, and so on? • What does it mean when consumption becomes an end in itself – that is, when the point of shopping is not necessarily to purchase any specific item or service but mostly to engage in the act of consumption? • What is ethical consumption? • What kinds of changes would have to take place to our everyday activities and practices to establish a new politics of consumption? Chapter 6 – Identity and the Body p.201 – Discussion Questions: Consider how different labels are used to define and describe your own identity – for example, race, class, gender, disability, etc.  Do you find any of these labels to be restrictive?  If so, in what way?  How might these labels help you to find community and define yourself in a dominantly binary society? Chapter 7 – Identity, Community, Collectivity p.223 – Discussion Questions:  How is your identity shaped by belonging (or not belonging) to particular communities? With respect to one community that you are or have been connected to, consider the following questions:  How does membership in the community shape and / or restrict your identity, your agency, or your membership in other communities?  How – through what historical discourses, institutions, and practices – does the community acquire its meaning?  What are its borders, and how are they policed?  How has the shape or meaning of the community changed over time? Chapter 8 – Subcultures and Counter-Cultures p.262 – The concept of subcultures is a relatively recent one, developed first in the 1940s by a group of sociologists associated with the University of Chicago. p.263 – The concept of a counter-culture is equally recent, although, as with the concept of subcultures, the term has, since its invention, been used to refer to groups and activities prior to the second half of the 20th century. Counter-culture is a term still most commonly used in reference to the politics of the 1960s, especially with respect to the art, culture, and politics generated around the protests against the U.S. was in Vietnam. p.267 – Discussion Questions:  Is it possible to identify counter-culture(s) today?  Are the various political groups that oppose capitalist culture today linked by common goals and / or ideas about appropriate counter-lifestyles?  How does the idea of a counter-culture fit with the relatively new idea of “alternative” culture?  Make a list of subcultures and counter-cultures and try to think about how and why we refer to these groups with these different terms.  Are these categories still a productive way to think about contemporary cultural experience? p.272 – Culture Jamming – the practice of turning manifestations of consumer culture (advertising images) against themselves for political ends. By parodying targeted ad images, culture jamming re-contextualizes them and offers a different set of associations through which they can be read. Chapter 9 – Globalization and Environment p.303 – Discussion Questions:  In what contexts have you heard the concept of globalization discussed (news, television, books, articles)?  In these contexts, is globalization presented as an opportunity or a cost?  How do different groups and organizations view globalization?  Is globalization seen as just how things are or as a political-economic project that needs to be contested and challenged?  What do these difference between Fortune 500 companies and environmental groups suggest about the general public’s understanding of the meaning of globalization? p.308 – Globalization describes the increasing flow of ideas, goods, and cultural products around the world. But while borders may have become more porous to images, ideas, and products, the mobility of people has in many cases become more controlled than ever. Zygmunt Bauman suggests that globalization has divided the world into two new classes of people: “tourists,” for whom globalization has meant increased mobility and for whom the world is almost entirely open to exploration, and “vagabonds,” those who either can’t move outside of fixed boundaries (for a variety of reasons) or are forced to move by circumstances beyond their control (civil war, famines, etc.)  Make a list of groups and individuals that would fit into these two categories and consider the implications of a world divided by degree of mobility.  Do tourists exist only in the wealthy countries of the global North and vagabonds only in the global South?  What roles do race and gender play in the politics of mobility?  In what way are these categories shifting and changing? Chapter 10 – Popular Culture in the 21st Century p.333 – Discussion Questions:  In what ways has technology reshaped your interaction with popular culture and media?  Consider the ways you make use of the search tools on the Internet and the information they bring up. Do you question the search results? Why or why not?

  4. 4 out of 5


    Valuablish information but it drones on. Textbook would be a lot smaller if it just got straight to the point. Most of it is common knowledge. Extremely boring only read this for school.

  5. 5 out of 5


    what should be interesting subject matter is lost in bad writing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emily Donnelly

    This is the book for my cultural studies class!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joselyn Star

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell Gosse

  9. 5 out of 5


  10. 4 out of 5

    Max Haiven

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    Spencer Adams

  15. 5 out of 5

    Le Reve

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    Kayla Hillier

  18. 4 out of 5


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  20. 4 out of 5

    Katie Alexandra

  21. 5 out of 5

    Le Reve

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hue Nghi

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    Lance Eaton

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    Ashlee Colwell

  29. 5 out of 5


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    Melissa Agnew

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    Mark A.

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    Milind Singh

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    Tanner Lyons

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    Robin Haase

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    Adam Lawlor

  42. 4 out of 5

    Muneeb Zaman

  43. 5 out of 5


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