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M. Madhava Prasad
At the core of what we know as popular culture studies today is the work of scholars associated with or influenced by the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Popular culture itself and intellectual interest in its risks and possibilities, however, long predate this moment. Earlier in the 20th century, members of the Frankfurt School took an active interest in what was then referred to as “mass culture” or the culture industry. Semiotics, emerging in the latter half of the 20th century as an exciting new methodology of cultural analysis, turned to popular culture for many of its objects as it redefined textuality, reading, and meaning. The works of Roland Barthes and Umberto Eco are exemplary in this regard. The work of the Birmingham school, also known as British cultural studies, drew from both of these intellectual traditions but went on to forge its own unique methods drawing on Marxist and poststructuralist theoretical legacies. Quickly spreading across the Anglophone world, Cultural Studies is now widely recognized, if not as a discipline proper, as a distinctive branch of the humanities. Other methodologies contemporaneous with this trend are also now clubbed together as part of this generalized practice of cultural studies. Important among these are feminist approaches to popular culture exemplified by work on Hollywood cinema and women’s melodrama in particular, the study of images and representations through a mass communications approach, and ethnographic studies of readers of popular romances and television audiences. A minor, theoretically weak tradition of popular culture studies initiated by Ray Browne parallelly in the Unites States may also be mentioned. More recently, Slavoj Zizek has introduced startlingly new ways of drawing popular cultural texts into philosophical debates. If all of these can be taken together as constituting what is generally referred to as popular culture studies today, it is still limited to the 20th century. Apart from the Frankfurt School and semiotics, British cultural studies also counts among the precursors it had to settle scores with, the tradition of cultural criticism in Britain that Matthew Arnold and in his wake F. R. Leavis undertook as they sought to insulate “the best of what was thought and said” from the debasing influence of the commercial press and mass culture in general. But the history of popular culture as an object of investigation and social concern goes further back still to the 18th and 19th centuries, the period of the rise and spread of mass literature, boosted by the rise of a working-class readership.
Kristy Hess and Lisa Waller
There are more local news outlets operating around the world at any given moment than larger-scale metropolitan newsrooms, and yet it is the latter that have dominated journalism scholarship. As a specific area of inquiry, local journalism—often branded “community journalism” or “hyperlocal journalism”—is a relatively new but rapidly growing field of research in this period of digital disruption. Scholars argue that studying news at the local level can offer rich insights into the role and place of journalism more broadly and reveal much about why people engage with news. Local journalism has been highlighted for its distinct role in reinforcing notions of and building community and the importance of social and public connection among audiences. More recently, attention has shifted to business models sustaining local news given the turbulence facing traditional media and the rapid closure of long-serving local newspapers, especially in the United Kingdom. Scholars have also emphasized the importance of re-conceptualizing local news in a globalized and digital world, highlighting the continued relevance and importance of place to journalists and audiences. Sociology and political science have been the dominant lenses used to examine this sector; however, increasingly scholars are turning to cultural studies to understand the relationship between local news and audiences. Most recent research also indicates there is renewed optimism within the sector, especially among news providers who remain embedded and committed entirely to the local areas they serve.
Richard Lance Keeble
“Literary journalism” is a highly contested term, its essential elements being a constant source of debate. A range of alternative concepts are promoted: the “New Journalism,” “literary non-fiction,” “creative non-fiction,” “narrative non-fiction,” “the literature of fact,” “lyrics in prose,” “gonzo journalism” and, more recently, “long-form journalism,” “slow journalism,” and “multi-platform immersive journalism.” At root, the addition of “literary” to “journalism” might be seen to be dignifying the latter and giving it a modicum of cultural class. Moreover, while the media exert substantial political, ideological, and cultural power in societies, journalism occupies a precarious position within literary culture and the academy. Journalism and literature are often seen as two separate spheres: the first one “low,” the other “high.” And this attitude is reflected among men and women of letters (who often look down on their journalism) and inside the academy (where the study of the journalism has long been marginalized). The seminal moment for the launching of literary journalism as a subject in higher education was the publication in 1973 of The New Journalism, edited by Tom Wolfe and E. W. Johnson. Bringing together the work of 22 literary journalists, Wolfe pronounced the birth of a distinctly new kind of “powerful” reportage in 1960s America that drew its main techniques from the realist novels of Fielding, Smollett, Balzac, Dickens, and Gogol. By the 1980s and 1990s, the study of literary journalism was growing (mainly in the United States and United Kingdom), with some courses opening at universities. In recent years, literary journalism studies have internationalized revealing their historic roots in many societies while another emphasis has been on the work of women writers. Immersive journalism, in which the reporter is embedded with a particular individual, group, community, military unit (or similar) has long been a feature of literary journalism. In recent years it has been redefined as “slow journalism”: the “slowness” allowing for extra attention to the aesthetic, writerly, and experimental aspects of reportage for the journalist and media consumer. And perhaps paradoxically in this age of Twitter and soundbite trivia, long-form/long-read formats (in print and online) have emerged alongside the slow journalism trend. The future for literary journalism is, then, full of challenges: some critics argue that one solution to the definitional wrangles would be to consider all journalism as worthy of critical attention as literature. Most analysis of literary journalism is keen to stress the quality of the techniques deployed, yet greater stress could be placed on the political economy of the media and a consideration of ideological bias. Indeed, while most of the study of literary journalism to date has focused on the corporate media, the future could see more studies of partisan, progressive, alternative media.
For the past two decades, the Korean Wave has been recognized in many parts of the world, and has articulated dynamic junctures of globalization, regionalization, and localization in the realms of media and popular culture. Due to online media platforms such as streaming services, television content has been diversifying and increasing its transnational circulation. More recently, the outbound scope of K-drama and K-pop has further reached dispersed global audiences, most of whom are not Korean media consumers or fans, thanks to active use of social media, such as YouTube, in transnational media consumption. The Korean Wave can be a meaningful contra-flow in transnational pop culture. Moreover, the Korean Wave is an evolutionary cultural flow, as traced in the history of its growth. The Wave has been experiencing continuities and discontinuities in its stream for years, along with its popularity cycle, and interestingly disjuncture has shaped it differently. A set of studies of the Korean Wave should map out the presence of the Wave in the big picture of cultural globalization, beyond the pre-existing geocultural divisions. The very recent Korean Wave drives not only the flow of various kinds of content and formats but also reciprocal interchanges of diverse levels of human, financial, technological, and cultural elements; this reconstructs implied meanings of the Korean Wave and its globalizing phenomena.
Jürgen Habermas is a primary figure in the Frankfurt School of critical theory that emerged in Germany after World War II. He wrote several important works addressing a variety of fields, including legal hermeneutics, to liberal political philosophy, to systems theory, and language analysis. Throughout his research, he has lauded intersubjective “communicative action” as a key paradigm for politics, law, and ethics.
Habermas’s theory of communicative action frames human beings as rational arguers. In his view, communication involves discussants disputing “validity claims” to gain mutual understanding and reach consensus. When he applies this communicative action perspective to culture and society, Habermas diagnoses the pathologies that occur when people coordinate their actions strategically through artificial systems rather than cooperatively through dialogue. When he applies it to ethical theory, he draws out the assumptions interlocutors must make when they argue—they are obliged to attempt to justify claims so that they could be universally accepted by those involved in the discourse.
In addition to theorizing communication, Habermas throughout his work analyzes the structures and systems that enable public communication in civil society. From this perspective, democratic society relies on spaces and institutions that allow for the public to debate matters of common concern, particularly when they involve the state. In his historical account, Habermas argues that the “public sphere” transformed during the Enlightenment to give communicative outlets to an emerging bourgeois class. From a legal and philosophical perspective, he outlines conditions for political and communicative agency in a modern constitutional state.
Communication scholars have had a mixed reaction to Habermas. He offers a vision of critical theory that allows for practical reason, but some assert that his theories are too idealistic and counterfactual to apply to real-life discourse. However, other scholars have nuanced his theory by putting him in dialogue with the rhetorical tradition. Publics and counterpublics especially have become common parlance and have helped explain protest, advocacy, and the constitution of communities in democratic culture.
The core of the journalistic style is the newswriting style. Writing news leans upon the objectivity paradigm that has triggered wide academic debate about the biases in defining journalism. The majority of the scholarship regarding the journalistic style and writing gathers around newspapers and news; however, many traditions of writing transgress the traditional newswriting tradition and are supported by literary and cultural production, and the boundaries are becoming increasingly porous. The history of journalistic styles is closely connected to different genres: genres of journalism, such as news journalism and literary journalism, and textual genres, such as feature, column, and essay. Furthermore, style is a contextual term that emerges as a result of a variety of different choices, can be examined at different levels ranging from words to structures of production, and has to be studied in connection with other factors influencing the communication process such as medium, content, form, genre, discourses, and audience. It may thus be hard to separate the way of knowing from the way of presenting knowledge, “the way of using language” as style typically is defined. Indeed, journalism research is characterized by very diverse conceptualizations and operationalizations of style with regard to journalism. Relevant research is typically located in the intersection of language and journalism, literature and journalism, and the socially constructed reality and journalism, drawing on the different subareas of linguistics, literary theory and criticism, sociology, and interdisciplinary approaches. During the history of journalism studies, the scholarly inquiry has made struggles for symbolic power and alternative ways of knowing and presenting visible. The notions of the journalistic style in newspapers, magazines, and online have become more diverse.
Mary E. Triece
The term ideology originated in 1796 and has been taken up in a variety of ways by scholars in disciplines including communication, sociology, anthropology, and economics. Generally understood as an organized set or system of belief, the term over the past 200 years has been variously situated vis à vis material relations and processes of production; has been assigned negative, positive, and neutral connotations; has been rejected as outmoded and replaced by the more sweeping term discourse; and has been revived as once again being relevant by contemporary scholars.
Ideology is closely associated with the economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who first used the concept in The German Ideology, published in 1845–1846. Marx and Engels discussed ideology specifically in terms of the economic means and relations of production and framed it largely in negative terms, as the ideas of the ruling class intended to distort or mystify processes of capitalist exploitation. Early 20th-century Marxist followers like Vladimir Lenin, Georg Lukács, and Antonio Gramsci expanded the understanding of the word to include the belief systems of either dominant or resistant groups.
Throughout the 20th century, the structuralist theories of Louis Althusser lent the word ideology a deterministic quality. Althusser and others explored how Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs), such as schools, churches, and media, constitute subject positions for individuals, leaving them little room for agency or struggle against oppressive thought systems. Structuralism’s emphasis on the primacy and force of ideology reached its apex in poststructuralist, postmodernist, and post-Marxist theories that discursified the material—that is, it made no distinction between belief systems and the real world of relations, processes, systems, etc. These theories invigorated discussions surrounding epistemology, ontology, and the role of communication in forming identities and shaping social struggles.
Critics of poststructuralist, postmodernist, and post-Marxist theories have attempted to resituate ideology within its original theoretical context of Marxist dialectical materialism. These efforts attempt to show the importance, for theory and for democratic struggle, of distinguishing between ideas and real-world experience.
Dialogue and its extension to polylogue are presented as an intersubjective basis of communication. The intersubjective aspect cannot be explained by any discipline without a contradiction, since any explanation would require intersubjective awareness. While necessary, dialogue requires a third aspect: dialogue about something, a theme, a subject matter, a problem, a point of disagreement, such that the topic sets a limit to the dialogical partners. This third aspect shifts the discussion away from subject-to-subject encounter as inadequate and moves to the subjects as partners who first are engaged in a dialogue about something. While speaking to someone about something, there is a mutual exchange of awareness and a broadening of horizons of both, with an addition of others who are co-present even if they are not empirically available. To speak to someone of physical laws is also to speak with Newton, Einstein, Planck, and others who form a polylogical field—forming an extension of the awareness of dialogical partners. The issue that arises is whether the individual can form her own position, or whether she is dominated by a historical tradition of interpretation. The dialectical debate between Habermas and Gadamer shows the problem, which is finally resolved by an extension of dialogue through education. The final and most concrete aspect of dialogical communication is present at the level of praxis as bodily activity which is equally intercorporeal. We build our world and thus our history and form a depth of intercorporeal communication of what we can do.
While the dialogical domain is the focus of this research, it also includes suggestions on critical evaluation of specific theories and mutual controversies among theorists, e.g., Habermas and Gadamer. Such controversies are necessary to show how dialogical procedures not only posit different theoretical positions but help such positions to become clearer and more articulated.
As a nascent form of screen culture, video games provide a challenging new lens to think about emerging media. Because video games do not abide by traditional narrative structure and because many different kinds of media objects fall under the purview of video games, they provide particular complications for researchers. In turn, within video game studies, which has been a growing field since the early 2000s, researchers often focus on a specific approach to understanding video games: studying the industry, studying audiences, or studying games as texts. Additionally, many researchers have found it useful to consider “assemblage”-type approaches that look holistically at several aspects of a video game object in order to understand the game from a broader context.
Diasporic news refers to information, entertainment, and education news that is politically, economically, and socioculturally relevant to diaspora audiences. This news content is produced by diasporic news media established for and by diasporic groups. According to scholars, diasporic media plays two broad roles: an orientation role relating to information and advice to help diasporic groups adjust to the host country and a connective role relating to information about events in the homeland.
The affordability of new media technology spurred the growth of diasporic media making countless platforms available to diaspora groups to disseminate their views via the legacy media of print, radio, and television; and via the new media of Internet and social media. However, their business model is still predominantly independent and small scale, and their printed edition is circulated mostly through alternative distribution outlets such as grocery shops, churches, restaurants, and airports.
Their practitioners subscribe broadly to the tenets of journalistic professionalism, but these are discursively reinterpreted, appropriated and contested in line with the cultural sensibilities of diaspora audiences. On their part, the diaspora audiences use them as a platform for political activism; to connect with their group members; to watch movies and listen to music. But in recent times, the home governments are using them to tap into the diaspora resources including remittances and skills transfer.