Pop culture

From production to socio-technical moments

Authored by: Marshall Battani

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:


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A narrow focus on culture-producing institutions is problematic if we understand popular culture as the creation of users and not simply consumers (active audiences) or producers. Despite a tendency to focus on institutional constraints, the production of culture perspective is still useful to the extent that researchers avoid reifying boundaries between institutions and their environments. This chapter examines the production of culture perspective in relation to other contemporaneous approaches to popular culture, such as those associated with Birmingham School in the UK and with the work of French anthropologist Michel de Certeau. Illustrations are drawn from studies of television, music, cinema, photography, smartphones, news production, fashion, social media, and online gaming. Although the distinction between institutionally defined producers on the one hand and active consumers on the other is theoretically clumsy, the production of culture perspective remains viable to the extent that it can put users center stage and appreciate how user activity produces content and meaning across and within multiple institutional contexts.

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