Sunday, March 27, 2011

Storey - Cultural Studies and the Study of Popular Culture

Storey, John. Cultural Studies and the Study of Popular Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010.

Storey synthesizes the trends and conclusions of a vast array of cultural theory, organized by type of medium: TV, fiction, film, newspapers and magazines, music, everyday consumption, and globalization. His overall argument can best be described through the "circuit of culture" he borrows from Paul du Gay and explains in the conclusion: "...there are five interrelated contexts we must consider if we are to fully understand a text or practice: representation, identity, production, consumption, and regulation."

Storey describes (and agrees with) the trend in cultural studies away from the "pessimistic elitism" of the theories of analysis of Leavisism, the Frankfurt School (ie Adorno), most structuralism, economistic versions of Marxism, and political economy. Pessimistic elitism tends to view people as cultural dupes. Cultural studies have sought to re-emphasize the power of the consumer in making his/her own meaning.

Chapter 1 - Cultural Studies and the Study of Popular Culture -
British Cultural Studies have been influenced by Antonio Gramsci's concept of "hegemony" and Michel Foucoult's argument that power relations are not fixed but ever changing as people, in certain contexts and contingencies, formulate their own meanings from culture.

Chapter 2 - Television
Stuart Hall - Television programs pass through three distinctive moments: encoding, the production of meaning by the industry based on their own frameworks of knowledge and relations of production; the programme itself presented on the TV in a moment where it is open to polysemy; and the moment the audience decodes the program and makes their own meaning - dominant, negotiated, oppositional.
John Fiske - cultural commodities like television circulate simultaneously in financial economy and cultural economy (meanings, pleasures, and social identities).
Marshall McLuhan - The content of a medium is a distraction to the true meaning of the medium, found by taking the technological materiality of a media very seriously.
Raymond Williams - The use and significance of any new technology, including all forms of media, is always determined by the social situation in which it emerges, ie its power relations.
Burgess and Green - YouTube has shifted over the question of what kind of community it will be, and remains in flux: from an archive to an imagined, participatory community.

Chapter 3 - Fiction
Louis Althusser - Deconstruct the text by reading it symptomatically to reveal its prolematic - its theoretical and ideological structure which both frames and produces the discourses and historical context out of which it is created.

Chapter 4 - Film
Ferdinand de Saussure - meaning is produced through a process of linguistic combination and selection.
Laura Mulvey - Perceives to contradictory forms of visual pleasure: scopophilia (sexual objectification) and sexual difference/threat of castration. Film allows two escapes for the male selfconscious 1. investigate the original moment of trauma and punish the guilty object, such as film noir 2. Make the figure itself into a reassuring fetish (female film star) or substitute a fetish object.

Chapter 5 - Newspapers and Magazines
John Fiske - popular culture is potentially, and often actually, progressive though not radical
Angela McRobbie - Analysis of magazines for teenage girls (mainly Jackie) shows how girls are explicitly subjected to an attempt to win them to dominant order in terms of femininity, leisure and consumption. New magazines have gotten better.
Roland Barthes - Myth is produced at the level of secondary signification (connotation, as opposed to denotation).

Chapter 6 - Music
Theodor Adorno - Music produced for the masses is 1.) Standardized, 2.) created for passive listening, and 3.) operates as social cement. Thus, popular music is bad.
Simon Frith - As it turns out, popular music is extremely reliant on and at the mercy of the tastes of the audience. We must distinguish between the economic power of the culture industries and the power of their symbolic influence.

Chapter 7 - Consumption in Everyday Life
Subcultures, such as youth, appropriate for their own purposes and meaning the commodities commercially provided.
Angela McRobbie - Introduced gender into youth subcultures.
Henry Jenkins - Examines fan culture for the ways fans participate in their favorite television shows. Fan reading is characterized by 1.) intensity of intellectual and emotional involvement, 2.)fans read and continually reread texts, 3.) fans consumer texts as part of a community.

Chapter 8 - Globalization and Popular Culture
Globalization is much more complex than merely a process by which American culture is spreading throughout the world. There is hybridity. Still, one must keep in mind the power relations inherent in globalization.

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