What is popular culture? How does it differ from mass culture? And what do popular "texts" reveal about class, race, and gender dynamics in a society? John Fiske answers these and a host of other questions in Understanding Popular Culture.
When it was first written, Understanding Popular Culture took a groundbreaking approach to studying such cultural artifacts as jeans, shopping malls, tabloid newspapers, and TV game shows, which remains relevant today. Fiske differentiates between mass culture – the cultural "products" put out by an industrialized, capitalist society – and popular culture – the ways in which people use, abuse, and subvert these products to create their own meanings and messages. Rather than focusing on mass culture’s attempts to dominate and homogenize, he prefers to look at (and revel in) popular culture’s evasions and manipulations of these attempts.
Designed as a companion to Reading the Popular, Understanding Popular Culture presents a radically different theory of what it means for culture to be popular: that it is, literally, of the people. It is not imposed on them, it is created by them, and its pleasures and meanings reflect popular tastes and concerns – and a rejection of those fostered by mass culture. With wit, clarity, and insight, Professor Fiske debunks the myth of the mindless mass audience, and demonstrates that, in myriad ways, popular culture thrives because that audience is more aware than anyone guesses.
How can we study communication? What are the main theories and methods of approach?
This classic text provides a lucid, accessible introduction to the main authorities in the field of communication studies, aimed at students coming to the subject for the first time. It outlines a range of methods of analysing examples of communication, and describes the theories underpinning them. Thus armed, the reader will be able to tease out the latent cultural meanings in such apparently simple communications as news photos or popular TV programmes, and to see them with new eyes.
Media Matterstakes us to the heart of social inequality and the call for social justice by interrogating some of the most important issues of its time. Fiske offers a practical guide to learning how to interpret the ways that media events shape the social landscape, to contest official and taken-for-granted accounts of how events are presented/conveyed through media, and to affect social change by putting intellectual labor to public use.
A new introductory essay by former Fiske student Black Hawk Hancock entitled ‘Learning How to Fiske: Theorizing Cultural Literacy, Counter-History, and the Politics of Media Events in the 21st Century’ explains the theoretical and methodological tools with which Fiske approaches cultural analysis, highlighting the lessons today’s students can continue to draw upon in order to understand society today.