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In his book, Introducing Cultural Studies , Ziauddin Sardar lists the following five main characteristics of cultural studies: [6]. As Dennis Dworkin writes, [7] "a critical moment" in the beginning of cultural studies as a field was when Richard Hoggart used the term in in founding the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies CCCS at the University of Birmingham in the UK, which was to become home for the development of the intellectual orientation that has become known internationally as the "Birmingham School" of cultural studies.

Then, in , the University of Birmingham's senior administration abruptly announced the disestablishment of CSS, provoking a substantial international outcry.


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There are numerous published accounts of the history of cultural studies. Many cultural studies scholars employed Marxist methods of analysis, exploring the relationships between cultural forms the superstructure and that of the political economy the base. By the s, the work of Louis Althusser radically rethought the Marxist account of "base" and "superstructure" in ways that had a significant influence on the "Birmingham School. Also during the 70s, the politically formidable British working classes were in decline. Britain's manufacturing industries were fading and union rolls were shrinking.


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Yet millions of working class Britons backed the rise of Margaret Thatcher. For Stuart Hall and his colleagues, this shift in loyalty from the Labour Party to the Conservative Party had to be explained in terms of cultural politics, which they had been tracking even before Thatcher's victory. By the late s, scholars associated with The Birmingham School had firmly placed questions of gender and race on the cultural studies agenda, where they have remained ever since.

Also by the late s, cultural studies had begun to attract a great deal of international attention.

americana readings in popular culture revised edition Manual

It spread globally throughout the s and 90s. As it did so, it both encountered new conditions of knowledge production, and engaged with other major international intellectual currents such as poststructuralism, postmodernism and postcolonialism. In the US, prior to the emergence of British Cultural Studies, several versions of cultural analysis had emerged largely from pragmatic and liberal-pluralist philosophical traditions.

A thriving cultural studies scene has existed in Australia since the late s, when several key CS practitioners emigrated there from the UK, taking British Cultural Studies with them, after Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of the UK in A school of cultural studies known as "cultural policy studies" is one of the distinctive Australian contributions to the field, though it is not the only one.

Australia also gave birth to the world's first professional cultural studies association now known as the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia in In Canada , cultural studies has sometimes focused on issues of technology and society , continuing the emphasis in the work of Marshall McLuhan , Harold Innis , and others. In Africa, human rights and Third World issues are among the central topics treated. Even though cultural studies developed much more rapidly in the UK than in continental Europe, there is a significant cultural studies presence in countries such as France, Spain and Portugal.

The field is relatively undeveloped in Germany, probably due to the continued influence of the Frankfurt School , which is now often said to be in its third generation, which includes notable figures such as Axel Honneth. In Germany, the term cultural studies specifically refers to the field in the Anglo-sphere especially British Cultural Studies [32] to differentiate it from the German Kulturwissenschaft which developed along different lines and is characterized by its distance from political science.

However, Kulturwissenschaft and cultural studies are often used interchangeably, particularly by lay persons. Throughout Asia, cultural studies has boomed and thrived since at least the beginning of the s. As noted above, Marxism has been an important influence upon cultural studies. Those associated with CCCS initially engaged deeply with the structuralism of Louis Althusser , and later in the s turned decisively toward Antonio Gramsci. Cultural studies has also embraced the examination of race, gender, and other aspects of identity, as is illustrated, for example, by a number of key books published collectively under the name of CCCS in the late s and early 80s, including Women Take Issue: Aspects of Women's Subordination , and The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70s Britain To understand the changing political circumstances of class, politics and culture in the United Kingdom, scholars at The Birmingham School turned to the work of Antonio Gramsci , an Italian thinker, writer and communist party leader of the s, 20s and '30s.

Gramsci had been concerned with similar issues: why would Italian laborers and peasants vote for fascists? What strategic approach is necessary to mobilize popular support in more progressive directions? Gramsci modified classical Marxism , and argued that culture must be understood as a key site of political and social struggle.

Daily Life and Popular Culture in the 1990s

In his view, capitalists used not only brute force police, prisons, repression, military to maintain control, but also penetrated the everyday culture of working people in a variety of ways in their efforts to win popular "consent. Hegemony was always, for Gramsci, an interminable, unstable and contested process. In the work of Hall, Hebdige and McRobbie, popular culture came to the fore What Gramsci gave to this was the importance of consent and culture.

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If the fundamental Marxists saw power in terms of class-versus-class, then Gramsci gave to us a question of class alliance. The rise of cultural studies itself was based on the decline of the prominence of fundamental class-versus-class politics. The theory of hegemony was of central importance to the development of British cultural studies [particularly The Birmingham School.

It facilitated analysis of the ways subordinate groups actively resist and respond to political and economic domination. The subordinate groups needed not to be seen merely as the passive dupes of the dominant class and its ideology. The development of hegemony theory in cultural studies was in some ways consonant with work in other fields exploring agency , a theoretical concept that insists on the active, critical capacities of subordinated peoples e. Some analysts have however been critical of some work in cultural studies that they feel overstates the significance of or even romanticizes some forms of popular cultural agency.

Cultural studies often concerns itself with agency at the level of the practices of everyday life, and approaches such research from a standpoint of radical contextualism. Judith Butler, an American feminist theorist whose work is often associated with cultural studies, wrote that. It has marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

In recent decades, as capitalist culture has spread throughout the world via contemporary forms of globalization , cultural studies has generated important analyses of local sites and practices of negotiation with and resistance to Western hegemony. Cultural Studies criticizes the traditional view of the passive consumer, particularly by underlining the different ways people read, receive and interpret cultural texts, or appropriate other kinds of cultural products, or otherwise participate in the production and circulation of meanings.

On this view, a consumer can appropriate, actively rework or challenge the meanings circulated through cultural texts.


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  7. In some of its variants, then, cultural studies has thus shifted the analytical focus from traditional understandings of production to consumption, which is nevertheless understood as a form of production of meanings, of identities, etc. Stuart Hall , John Fiske , and others have been influential in these developments. A special issue of the field's flagship journal, Cultural Studies , examined "Anti-Consumerism" from a variety of cultural studies angles. Cultural studies, drawing upon and developing semiotics , uses the concept of text to designate not only written language, but also television programs , films , photographs , fashion , hairstyles , and so forth; the texts of cultural studies comprise all the meaningful artifacts of culture.

    This conception of textuality derives especially from the work of the pioneering and influential semiotician, Roland Barthes , but also owes debts to other sources, such as Juri Lotman and his colleagues from Tartu—Moscow School. Similarly, the field widens the concept of "culture. Cultural studies even approaches sites and spaces of everyday life, such as pubs, living rooms, gardens and beaches, as "texts. The task of the cultural analyst, for Lewis, is to engage with both knowledge systems and texts, and observe and analyse the ways the two interact with one another.

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    This engagement represents the critical dimensions of the analysis, its capacity to illuminate the hierarchies within and surrounding the given text and its discourses. Cultural studies has evolved through the confluence of various disciplines—anthropology, media and communication studies, literary studies, education, geography, philosophy, sociology, politics and others. While some have accused certain areas of cultural studies of meandering into political relativism and a kind of empty version of " postmodern " analysis, others hold that at its core, cultural studies provides a significant conceptual and methodological framework for cultural, social and economic critique.

    This critique is designed to " deconstruct " the meanings and assumptions that are inscribed in the institutions, texts and practices that work with and through, and produce and re-present, culture.

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    Cultural studies work on forms of social differentiation, control and inequality, identity, community-building, media, and knowledge production, for example, has had a substantial impact. Moreover, the influence of cultural studies has become increasingly evident in areas as diverse as translation studies , health studies, international relations, development studies, computer studies, economics, archaeology, and neurobiology, as well as across the range of disciplines that initially shaped the emergence of cultural studies, including literature, sociology, communication studies, and anthropology.

    Cultural studies has also diversified its own interests and methodologies, incorporating a range of studies on media policy , democracy, design, leisure, tourism, warfare and development.

    While certain key concepts such as ideology or discourse, class, hegemony, identity and gender remain significant, cultural studies has long engaged with and integrated new concepts and approaches such as deconstruction and postmodernism. The field thus continues to pursue political critique through its engagements with the forces of culture and politics.

    The Blackwell Companion to Cultural Studies , edited by leading cultural studies scholar Toby Miller, contains essays that analyze the development of cultural studies approaches within each of a wide range of disciplines across the contemporary social sciences and humanities. Many cultural studies practitioners work in departments of English or Comparative Literature.

    Nevertheless, some traditional literary scholars such as Yale professor Harold Bloom have been outspoken critics of cultural studies. On the level of methodology, these scholars dispute the theoretical underpinning of the movement's critical framework. One [is] the lunatic destruction of literary studies I mean, the Marxist literary critic Terry Eagleton is not wholly opposed to cultural studies, but has criticised aspects of it and highlighted what he sees as its strengths and weaknesses in books such as After Theory For Eagleton, literary and cultural theory have the potential to say important things about the "fundamental questions" in life, but theorists have rarely realized this potential.

    Cultural studies has also had a substantial impact on sociology. The subfield of cultural sociology, in particular, is disciplinary home to many cultural studies practitioners. Nevertheless, there are some differences between sociology as a discipline and the field of cultural studies as a whole.

    While sociology was founded upon various historic works purposefully distinguishing the subject from philosophy or psychology , cultural studies has explicitly interrogated and criticized traditional understandings and practices of disciplinarity. Most CS practitioners think it is best that cultural studies neither emulate disciplines nor aspire to disciplinarity for cultural studies. Rather, they promote a kind of radical interdisciplinarity as the basis for cultural studies.

    One sociologist whose work has had a major influence upon cultural studies is Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu's work makes innovative use of statistics and in-depth interviews. Two sociologists who have been critical of cultural studies, Chris Rojek and Bryan S. The French advertising poster of the late s marks the beginning of this crossover between advertising and art. Despite widespread use, the advertising poster did not always meet with universal acclaim.

    There were those who felt that filling the streets of Paris with advertising was a sure sign of cultural decay rather than progress. He drew inspiration for some of his later work from them. In , the Museum of Modern Art in New York mounted an exhibition entitled High and Low: Modern Art, Popular Culture that explored the relation in such areas as words, graffiti, caricature, comics, and advertising. It was in such moments, where art and life come together, that many great advertising ideas of the 20th century were born. Another example is the RCA dog inspired by a real pet and an actual incident.

    The influence between advertising and art moved the other way as well. Examples such as these abound in 20th-century art. A Nazi Poster from the s [ Source ]. Ironically, Andy Warhol was later commissioned by Absolut Vodka to produce an image of its famous bottle in the Warhol style as an actual advertisement.