Cultural studies

Cultural studies is an academic field grounded in critical theory and literary criticism. Characteristically interdisciplinary, cultural studies provides a reflexive network of intellectuals attempting to situate the forces constructing our daily lives. It concerns the political dynamics of contemporary culture, as well as its historical foundations, conflicts and defining traits. It is distinguished from cultural anthropology and ethnic studies in both objective and methodology. Researchers concentrate on how a particular medium or message relates to ideology, social class, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality and/or gender, rather than investigating a particular culture or area of the world.

Cultural studies approaches subjects holistically, combining feminist theory, social theory, political theory, history, philosophy, literary theory, media theory, film/video studies, communication studies, political economy, translation studies, museum studies and art history/criticism to study cultural phenomena in various societies. Thus, cultural studies seeks to understand the ways in which meaning is generated, disseminated, and produced through various practices, beliefs and institutions. Also politically, economically and even social structures within a given culture.

Overview

In his book Introducing Cultural Studies, Ziauddin Sardar lists the following five main characteristics of cultural studies:

  • Cultural studies aims to examine its subject matter in terms of cultural practices and their relation to power. For example, a study of a subculture (such as white working class youth in London) would consider the social practices of the youth as they relate to the dominant classes.
  • It has the objective of understanding culture in all its complex forms and of analyzing the social and political context in which culture manifests itself.
  • It is both the object of study and the location of political criticism and action. For example, not only would a cultural studies scholar study an object, but she/he would connect this study to a larger, progressive political project.
  • It attempts to expose and reconcile the division of knowledge, to overcome the split between tacit cultural knowledge and objective (universal) forms of knowledge.
  • It has a commitment to an ethical evaluation of modern society and to a radical line of political action.

Founding works

Hall identifies some originating texts, or the original ‘curriculum’, of the field of cultural studies:

  • Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy
  • Raymond Williams’ Culture and Society and The Long Revolution
  • E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class

References

Notes
  1. In a loosely related but separate usage, the phrase cultural studies sometimes serves as a rough synonym for area studies, as a general term referring to the academic study of particular cultures in departments and programs such as Islamic studies, Asian studies, African American studies, et al.. However, strictly speaking, cultural studies programs are not concerned with specific areas of the world so much as specific cultural practices.
  2. Lash, pp 68-9
  3. Edgar & Sedgewick, 165.
  4. R. Longworth, personal communication, March 26, 2012.
  5. Griffin, E. (2012). A First Look at Communication Theory (8th ed.). New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
  6. Gilbert, J. (2008).” AGAINST THE COMMODIFICATION OF EVERYTHING. Cultural Studies, 22(5), 551-566. doi:10.1080/09502380802245811
  7. Gilbert, J. (2008). AGAINST THE COMMODIFICATION OF EVERYTHING. Cultural Studies, 22(5), 551-566. doi:10.1080/09502380802245811
  8. Bakhtin, Mikhail 1981. The Dialogic Imagination. Austin, TX: UT Press, p.4
  9. Lash, p. 55
  10. Lash, p. 56
  11. Booknotes.org
  12. see An Introduction to the Work of Pierre Bourdieu: The Theory of Practice, (Eds) Richard Harker, Cheleen Mahar, Chris Wilkes. Houndmills : Macmillan, 1990 pg68-71
  13. Physics.nyu.edu, A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies, Alan Sokal
  14. Google Books, Culture, media, language: working papers in cultural studies, 1972-79 By Stuart Hall, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe and Paul Willis, (1980) London: Hutchinson
Bibliography
  • Du Gay, Paul, et al. Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman. Culture, Media and Identities. London ; Thousand Oaks Calif.: Sage in association with The Open University, 1997.
  • During, Simon. The Cultural Studies Reader. 2nd ed. London ; New York: Routledge, 2003.
  • Edgar, Andrew and Peter Sedgwick. 2005. Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts. 2nd edition. NY: Routledge.
  • Engel, Manfred: “Cultural and Literary Studies”. Canadian Review of Comparative Literature 31 (2008): 460-467.
  • Grossberg, Lawrence, Cary Nelson, and Paula A. Treichler. Cultural Studies. New York: Routledge, 1992.
  • Theory, Culture and Society, 21(1), 2004.
  • Hall, Stuart. Culture, Media, Language: Working Papers in Cultural Studies, 1972-79. London Birmingham, West Midlands: Hutchinson Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies University of Birmingham, 1992.
  • Hall, Stuart. “Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms.” Media, Culture, and Society 2 (1980).
  • Hall, Stuart. “Race, Culture, and Communications: Looking Backward and Forward at Cultural Studies.” Rethinking Marxism 5.1 (1992): 10-18.
  • Hoggart, Richard. The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working Class Life (Chatto and Windus, 1957) ISBN 0-7011-0763-4
  • Johnson, Richard. “What Is Cultural Studies Anyway?” Social Text 16 (1986–87): 38-80.
  • Johnson, Richard. “Multiplying Methods: From Pluralism to Combination.” Practice of Cultural Studies. London; Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2004. 26-43.
  • Johnson, Richard. “Post-Hegemony? I Don’t Think So” Theory, Culture and Society. 24(3): 95-110.
  • Lash, Scott. 2007. “Power after Hegemony: Cultural Studies in Mutation?” Theory, Culture, and Society. 24(3): 55-78.
  • Lewis, Jeff, Cultural Studies, Second Edition, Sage, London, 2008.
  • Longhurst,Brian, Smith,Greg, Bagnall, Gaynor, Crawford, Garry and Michael Ogborn, Introducing Cultural Studies, Second Edition, Pearson, London, 2008, ISBN 978-1-4058-5843-4
  • Lindlof, T. R., & Taylor, B. C. (2002). Qualitative Communication Research Methods, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Pollock, Griselda (ed.), Generations and Geographies: Critical Theories and Critical Practices in Feminism and the Visual Arts. Routledge, 1996.
  • Pollock, Griselda. Psychoanalysis and the Image. Boston and Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.
  • Smith, Paul. Questioning Cultural Studies: An Interview with Paul Smith. 1994. MLG Institute for Culture and Society at Trinity College. OSF1.gmu.edu, 31 August 2005.
  • Smith, Paul. “Looking Backwards and Forwards at Cultural Studies.” Companion to Cultural Studies. Ed. Toby Miller. Oxford; Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2001. 331-40.
  • Smith, Paul. “A Course In “Cultural Studies”.” The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association 24.1, Cultural Studies and New Historicism (1991): 39-49.
  • Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
  • Williams, Raymond. Culture and Society, 1780-1950. New York,: Harper & Row, 1966.

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