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Cultural studies


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.
  • 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 (2007). The Cultural Studies Reader (3rd ed.). London: Routledge. ISBN . 
  • 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; Nelson, Cary; Treichler, Paula A., eds. (1992). Cultural Studies. New York: Routledge. ISBN . 
  • Hall, Stuart, ed. (1980). Culture, Media, Language: Working Papers in Cultural Studies, 1972-1979. London: Routledge in association with the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham. ISBN . 
  • 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).
  • 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 (May 2007). "Power After Hegemony: Cultural Studies in Mutation?". Theory, Culture & Society. 24 (3): 55–78. doi:10.1177/0263276407075956. 
  • Lewis, Jeff (2008). Cultural Studies: The Basics (2nd ed.). London: Sage. ISBN . 
  • Lindlof, T. R., & Taylor, B. C. (2002). Qualitative Communication Research Methods, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Longhurst,Brian, Smith,Greg, Bagnall, Gaynor, Crawford, Garry and Michael Ogborn, Introducing Cultural Studies, Second Edition, Pearson, London, 2008,
  • Miller, Toby, ed. (2006). A Companion to Cultural Studies. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers. ISBN . 
  • 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. "A Course In "Cultural Studies"." The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association 24.1, Cultural Studies and New Historicism (1991): 39-49.
  • Smith, Paul (2006). . In Miller, Toby. A Companion to Cultural Studies. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers. pp. 331–40. ISBN . 
  • Theory, Culture and Society, 21(1), 2004.
  • Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Revised edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
  • Williams, Raymond. Culture and Society, 1780-1950. New York,: Harper & Row, 1966.
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