No. 1(54) 2024: Рopular culture
Guest Editor of the issue:
Andrey Yu. Chukurov, Doctor of Science (Cultural Studies), Associate Professor of Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia
A discussion about the phenomenon of popular culture should begin not with the history of study or morphology, but with terminology. One of the central methodological problems in the context of this conversation is the relationship between the concepts of “mass culture” and “popular culture”. The “mass culture” concept firmly entered scientific circulation in the 40s of the twentieth century and was then extremely relevant. Its use in academic discourse in that period was absolutely due to both the mass character, replicability of the product, and the presence of a specific recipient – the “mass consumer”. Since then, we have entered the era of not just post-industrial culture, but information culture, which has cast doubt on the legitimacy of using this term. For some, “mass” and “popular” culture are still synonymous; for others, “popular culture” has become a kind of intermediate element of the morphology of culture between “mass” and “elite” culture. Most often we are faced with an approach according to which “mass culture” disappears along with the “Fordist masses” and in the 21st century we need to talk about a popular product that has a rather “niche” purpose. In a situation of society fragmentation and atomization, there is no longer a “mass consumer” left, and therefore there can be no “mass culture”. Based on this position, in our discussion we will use the term “popular culture.”
The of studying popular culture tradition goes back to the 1860s–1870s. It was then that one could observe the first cautious approach to the subject that interests us, in particular, in the pessimistic work of Matthew Arnold “Culture and Anarchy”. The negativism that he laid at the basis of the discourse about popular culture (even without using this concept) subsequently makes itself felt throughout the XX century. A critical attitude in assessing this phenomenon was firmly established at the turn of the century by Gustave Le Bon and Gabriel Tarde. Later, already in the thirties of the twentieth century, it was deeply understood in the works of Dwight Magdonald, who introduced the term “masscult” into scientific circulation, although only after Max Horkheimer introduced the term “mass culture” in his essay “Art and Mass Culture.”
A long trail of negative connotations will follow this cultural concept while it itself drifts from the methodology of the theory of mass society (Ortega y Gasset, Eliot), to the Frankfurt School (Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse) and the theory of progressive evolution (А. Swingewood).
By the 1970s the main theoretical and methodological “battles” are left behind and the era of systematic study of the phenomenon of popular culture and the institutionalization of this process itself is coming. Thus, in 1973, Ray Brown founded the Department of Popular Culture (Bowling Green University, Ohio, USA) awarding bachelor’s and master’s degrees – the only case in this period (Department of Popular Culture). Today training courses, master’s programs, departments, and research centers related to the study of popular culture have become commonplace in academic life. The space of popular culture these days seems to be hardly limitless, covering many areas from traditional television to sports and fashion, which undoubtedly creates certain methodological difficulties in assessing the phenomenon itself. Thus, one of the most relevant areas of popular culture consideration today is the media space and media convergence – the integration of various media forms within the framework of one project, as a result of which we get enrichment of content, partly its duplication, transformation of reception and the very status of the consumer.
Thus, popular culture is a current and instant reflection of sociocultural trends. It’s a basic element of culture, requiring constant updating of the methodological approaches. A systematic approach to its study will make it possible not only to understand the current state of society, but also to carry out prognosis, that’s the purpose of scientific knowledge.
The following topics are offered for the discussion:
- Theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of popular culture in the 21st century.
- Popular culture and identity formation.
- Popular culture in the context of creative industries.
- Popular culture in the context of media convergence.
- Ethnic manifestations of popular culture.
- Consumerism and popular culture.
- Virtual Reality: Changing the dynamics of the entertainment and gaming industry.
- The influence of K-pop on world popular culture.
The list of topics serves as a kind of scientific guideline, outlines the approximate direction of the discussion, but does not exhaust the variety of subjects that can be proposed by the authors.
Deadline: January 31.