Introduction to Popular Culture and the Media

Course information


Introduction to Popular Culture and the Media


Barát Erzsébet

Course code






X terem


Friday 8-10 am

Course description

Short description

This is a survey lecture in the field of cultural studies. The lecture is designed to introduce students into a dynamic understanding of culture as objects-in-use. We will discuss the various dimensions the concept as the institutionalized mediation of things in modernity and late modernity. The focus is on the study of person-thing relationships in Euro-American societies from the first wave of industrial revolution to the end of the 20th century. We shall explore possible answers to the following questions: How do cultural products (including human relationships, identity, feelings, or knowledge) become commodities? How do art-culture products acquire meaning in contemporary social life as high cultural products of ‘art’ or ‘mass’, popular cultural products ‘only’? What are the (perceived) reasons for the formation of various sub-cultures? Why and how do goods and services keep moving between (collectives of) people and how do their meaning change in the course of these institutionalized cycles of movement? What is the role of the media in this circulation? In the first half of the semester we shall discuss the three major contemporary models regarding the particularities and changes of consumer culture. In the second half of the semester we shall continue to explore the differences that gender, class, race and age relations make in (the theorization of) the formation of consumer culture. By the end of the course successful students will have understood that (popular) culture operates in everyday life through people’s interactions to re/produce and so maintain their environment in the particular institutions of culture.



1. Introduction

2: Material Culture and Consumer Culture

3-4: The Stylization of Consumption

5-6: Habitat and Habitus

7-8: Making Up and Making Do

9-10: Changing Races, Changing Places

11-12: Back to the Future and Forward to the Past

13: Consumer Culture, identity and Politics

14: Consolidation




Requirements to get the grade

Written exam that consists of two topics to be developed in 300-350 words, each.

Reading list

Celia Lury: Consumer Culture. Polity Press, 1996.

Suggested reading list

Raymond F. Betts: A History of Popular Culture: More of Everything, Faster and Brighter.

Routledge (2004)

Rosaling Gill: Gender and the Media. Polity Press. (2007)

Katie Milestone and Anneke Mayer: Gender and Popular Culture. Polity Press. (2012)

Dominic Strinati: A Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture. 2nd ed. Routledge. (2004)