Fiske’s Idea of “Popular Culture”

Popular culture is deeply contradictory in societies where power is unequally distributed along axes of class, gender, race, and the other categories that we use to make sense of our social differences (4).

In “Understanding Popular Culture” John Fiske mentions that “popular culture” involves making do with what is available (15). Popular culture, as mentioned by Fiske, is always part of power relations. There is always a struggle between subordination and domination–between power and the forces that try to resist it (19).

In “Understanding Popular Culture” Fiske discusses that torn jeans can be an example of popular culture because they “signify both a set of dominant American values and a degree of resistance to them” (5). In this case, the subordinate groups can make their own culture out of the materials that are given by the dominant groups. 

Different styles and washes of ripped jeans.

As well, jeans provide both warmth, this is a material function, and a cultural function which is has to do with a person’s social identity and social relations (11).

Popular culture has to do with excorporation, or the “process by which the subordinate make their own culture out of the resources and commodities provided by the dominant system” (15).

Other example of popular culture can be the popularity of hip hop, or certain social media trends like “Black Twitter” which is the community of Black Twitter members and their cultural identity (wikipedia). Similarly to the idea of jeans, denim jackets have become a piece of popular culture. Now the denim jacket is a staple in most girls closets and can be purchased for a lot of money, or thrifted at a cheap piece. There are also hundreds of different styles for denim jackets–they can be ripped, acid washed, dyed in any color a person wants it. The denim jacket gained popularity in in the 80s and 90s and several celebrities like Hailey Baldwin and Kendall Jenner love to wear theirs. The denim jacket also is not just for women, it can be worn on men too! It has both material and cultural function–it keeps you warm and it can be personalized anyway you want.

Model, Hailey Baldwin, sporting her version of the denim jacket.



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