An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture

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An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture
Second Edition

An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture is a clear and comprehensive guide to the major theories of popular culture, from the Frankfurt School to postmodernism. Dominic Strinati provides a critical assessment of the ways in which theorists have tried to understand and evaluate popular culture in modern society. Among the theories and ideas the book introduces are mass culture, the Frankfurt School and the culture industry, structuralism and semiology, Marxism, political economy and ideology, feminism, postmodernism and cultural populism. Strinati explains how theorists such as Adorno, Barthes, McRobbie and Hebdige have engaged with the many forms of popular culture, from jazz to popular television, and from teen magazines to the spy novel. The second edition has been revised and updated, with new material on Marxism and feminism, as well as an expanded discussion of recent theoretical developments, including the emergence of the idea of ‘cultural populism’. Each chapter includes a guide to key texts for further reading, and there is also a comprehensive bibliography. Dominic Strinati is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Leicester. His previous work has been in the areas of political and industrial sociology, and he is at present researching into contemporary forums of popular culture. He is the author of An Introduction to Studying Popular Culture (2000) and coeditor, with Stephen Wagg, of Come on Down? Popular Media Culture in Post-war Britain (1992).

To the memory of my mother, Francesca Aloyisia Maria Strinati (1916–1984), my father, Giovanni (John) Strinati (1913–1990), and my brother, John Edward Strinati (1950–1957).

An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture
Second Edition

Dominic Strinati

LONDON AND NEW YORK

First published 1995 by Routledge Second edition published 2004 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 29 West 35th Street, New York NY 10001 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.” © 1995, 2004 Dominic Strinati All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Strinati, Dominic. An introduction to theories of popular culture/ Dominic Strinati— 2nd ed. p. cm Includes bibliographical references and index 1. Popular culture. I. Title HM621.S834 2004 306–dc22 2003026815 ISBN 0-203-64516-2 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN 0-203-67292-5 (Adobe eReader Format) ISBN 0-415-23499-9 (hbk) ISBN 0-415-23500-6 (pbk)

Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction 1 Mass culture and popular culture Mass culture and mass society The mass culture debate Mass culture and Americanisation Americanisation and the critique of mass culture theory A critique of mass culture theory 2 The Frankfurt School and the culture industry The origins of the Frankfurt School The theory of commodity fetishism The Frankfurt School’s theory of modern capitalism The culture industry The culture industry and popular music Adorno’s theory of popular music, Cadillacs and doowop The Frankfurt School: a critical assessment Benjamin and the critique of the Frankfurt School 3 Structuralism, semiology and popular culture Structural linguistics and the ideas of Saussure Structuralism, culture and myth Structuralism and James Bond...
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