Cultural studies is a field of theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged cultural analysis that concentrates upon the political dynamics of contemporary culture, its historical foundations, defining traits, and conflicts. Cultural studies researchers generally investigate how cultural practices relate to wider systems of power associated with or operating through social phenomena, such as ideology, class structures, national formations, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and generation. Cultural studies views cultures not as fixed, bounded, stable, and discrete entities, but rather as constantly interacting and changing sets of practices and processes. The field of cultural studies encompasses a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives and practices. Although distinct from the disciplines of cultural anthropology and ethnic studies, cultural studies draws upon and has contributed to each of these disciplines.
Cultural studies was initially developed by British academics in the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and has been subsequently taken up and transformed by scholars from many different disciplines around the world. Cultural studies is avowedly and even radically interdisciplinary and can sometimes be seen as antidisciplinary. A key concern for cultural studies practitioners is the examination of the forces within and through which socially organized people conduct and participate in the construction of their everyday lives.
Cultural studies combines a variety of politically engaged critical approaches drawn from and including semiotics, Marxism, feminist theory, ethnography, critical race theory, poststructuralism, postcolonialism, 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 and historical periods. Thus, cultural studies seeks to understand how meaning is generated, disseminated, contested, bound up with systems of power and control, and produced from the social, political and economic spheres within a particular social formation or conjuncture. Important theories of cultural hegemony and agency have both influenced and been developed by the cultural studies movement, as have many recent major communication theories and agendas, such as those that attempt to explain and analyze the cultural forces related to processes of globalization.
- The aim of cultural studies is to examine cultural practices and their relation to power. For example, a study of a subculture (such as white working class youth in London) would consider their social practices against those of the dominant culture (in this example, the middle and upper classes in London who control the political and financial sectors that create policies affecting the well-being of white working class youth in London).
- The objective of cultural studies includes understanding culture in all its complex forms and analyzing the social and political context in which culture manifests itself.
- Cultural studies is a site of both study/analysis and political criticism/action. (For example, not only would a cultural studies scholar study an object, but s/he would connect this study to a larger, progressive political project.)
- Cultural studies attempts to expose and reconcile constructed divisions of knowledge that purport to be grounded in nature.
- Cultural studies has a commitment to an ethical evaluation of modern society and to a radical line of political action.
- Association for Cultural Typhoon, Japan
- The Canadian Association for Cultural Studies
- Cultural Studies Association of Australasia
- Cultural Studies Association, Taiwan
- Cultural Studies Association, Turkey
Cultural Studies Association, US
ECREA – European Communication Research and Education Association, Norway
- IBACS, Iberian Association of Cultural Studies, Spain
- Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society, Taiwan
International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS), South Korea
- International Society for Cultural History, UK
- Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association, UK
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