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Related to popular culture: mass culture
popular cultureliterally, the practices, likes and wants of the people. Popular culture operates in the context of high or élite culture with which it negotiates, struggles and reacts and which it simulates. In some readings, it is seen as the expression of the people. For example, Fiske (Understanding Popular Culture, 1989; Reading the Popular, 1989) stresses the capacity of popular culture to articulate the people's values. However, Fiske is reacting against a strong tradition which identifies popular culture with manipulation by market forces and the dominant class. The classic statement of this position is ADORNO and HORKHEIMER's (1972) ‘culture industry’ thesis. This thesis proposes that popular culture is managed by the producers of advertising, television, cinema, pop music and other branches of the mass communications industry. These agencies are alleged to produce conformity in the people. However, within the CULTURAL STUDIES tradition, popular culture has been theorized as a contradictory space. For example, Hall and Jefferson (1976) and Hall et al. (1978) recognize that popular culture is shaped by hegemonic forces. At the same time they read popular culture as territory in which the people genuinely resist hegemonic power. See also LEISURE, TELEVISION.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000