Popular culture and citizen media

Authored by: Randa Aboubakr

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138665569
eBook ISBN: 9781315619811
Adobe ISBN:


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Popular culture has been variously understood within the field of cultural studies. ‘Culture’, on the one hand, could be seen along a spectrum ranging from assigning it a reified status to thinking of it in terms of the ordinariness of daily practices. On the other hand, the ‘popular’ – posing the question of who the ‘people’ are – has also moved away from conceptualizations of the ‘people’ as the working classes to an understanding of the category in terms of its affiliation to shared values and consumerist behaviour. Moving from outlining and critiquing some of the most dominant conceptualizations of popular culture, this entry will focus on an understanding of the term derived from neo-Marxist (Gramscian) thought, setting it in relation to institutions of power in a society, whether that of capital mechanism or the state apparatus. Such views stress the relevance of the term to individuals and groups seeking to subvert the hegemony of mainstream dominant culture. In this sense, the concept of popular culture comes close to that of citizen media in that it is a means of expanding the range of representation and territoriality of agents seeking to introduce a discourse at variance with the dominant one through practices of everyday life that are not tied to capitalist sponsorship or state legitimation. These practices could range from material production in public space, such as graffiti and street performances which substitute state-sponsored (official) art and act as platforms for dissident views, to production in the digital realm such as blogging and comics which aim to be an alternative venue for commentary and news delivery.

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