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An introduction to theories of popular culture by Dominic Strinati

By Dominic Strinati

An advent to Theories of pop culture is well known as an immensely beneficial textbook for college students taking classes within the significant theories of pop culture. Strinati presents a severe overview of the ways that those theories have attempted to appreciate and overview pop culture in smooth societies.

Among the theories and ideas the publication introduces are: mann tradition, the Frankfurt university and the tradition undefined, semiology and structuralism, Marxism, feminism, postmodernism and cultural populism.

This new version offers clean fabric on Marxism and feminism, whereas a brand new ultimate bankruptcy assesses the importance of the theories defined within the book.

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Mass culture, unlike a genuine and authentic popular or folk culture, cannot arise from, nor be relevant to, the lives and experiences of people. However the definitions used in this argument are questionable. What does ‘authentic’ mean, and how can we know that a culture is authentic? Is there such a thing as a ‘pure’ culture, rooted in authentic communal values, and untainted by outside influences and commercial considerations? Popular music is an area in which the roots and authenticity of particular styles are important issues, and are used to champion the superiority of certain genres such as folk, blues or country over the artificial and superficial character of commercial and mainstream popular music.

In this society ‘folk-songs, folk-dances, Cotswold cottages and handicraft products are signs and expressions of something more: an art of life, a way of living, ordered and patterned, involving social arts, codes of intercourse and a responsive adjustment, growing out of immemorial experience, to the natural environment and the rhythm of the year’ (cited in Johnson 1979:96). It may be the case that this view of the past is not fanciful but merely an attempt to show what has been lost, and the subsequent consequences of that loss.

The conclusions reached by mass culture theory are difficult to substantiate without knowledge of the social positions occupied by consumers of popular culture in the wider society. Second, can people’s consumption of popular culture be characterised in the way mass culture theory suggests? Can the view that the audience for popular culture is an undifferentiated mass of passive consumers be sustained? To answer these questions adequately we need to see audiences as socially and culturally differentiated, and to recognise that cultural taste is socially constructed.

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