The study of popular culture
Related: Cultural Studies - popular culture - cultural history culture - culture theory - social history
Popular culture studiesPopular culture studies is the academic discipline studying popular culture. It is generally considered as a combination of communication studies and cultural studies. Academic discussions on popular culture started as soon as contemporary mass society formed itself, and the views on popular culture that were developed then, still influence contemporary popular culture studies. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies [Apr 2005]
Following the social upheavals of the 1960s, popular culture has come to be taken more seriously as a terrain of academic enquiry and has also helped to change the outlooks of more established disciplines. Conceptual barriers between so-called high and low culture have broken down, accompanying an explosion in scholarly interest in popular culture, which encompasses such diverse mediums as comic books, television and the Internet. Reevaluation of mass culture in the 1970s and 1980s has revealed significant problems with the traditional view of mass culture as degraded and elite culture as uplifting. Divisions between high and low culture have been increasingly seen as political distinctions rather than defensible aesthetic or intellectual ones (Mukerji & Schudson 1991:1-2). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies [Oct 2005]
Traditional theories of popular culture
The theory of mass society [...]Mass society formed itself during the 19th century industrialisation process, through the division of labour, the large-scale industrial organisation, the concentration of urban populations, the growing centralisation of decision-making, the development of a complex and international communication system, and the growth of mass political movements. The term "mass society" therefore was introduced by anti-capitalist aristocratic ideologists and used against the values and practices of industrialized society.
As Alan Swingewood points out in The Myth of Mass Culture (1977:5-8), the aristocratic theory of mass society is to be linked to the moral crisis caused by the weakening of traditional centers of authority such as family and religion. The society predicted by Ortega Y Gasset, T.S. Eliot and others would be dominated by philistine masses, without centers or hierarchies of moral or cultural authority. In such a society, art can only survive by cutting its links with the masses, by withdrawing as an asylum for threatened values. Throughout the 20th century, this type of theory has modulated on the opposition between disinterested, pure, autonomous art and commercialized mass culture. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies#The_theory_of_mass_society [Nov 2004]
The theory of culture industry [...]At first sight diametrically opposed to the aristocratic view would be the theory of culture industry developed by Frankfurt School theoreticians such as Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse. In their view, the masses are precisely dominated by an all-encompassing culture industry obeying only to the logic of consumer capitalism. Gramsci's concept of hegemony (see: cultural hegemony), that is, the domination of society by a specific group which stays in power by partially taking care of, and partially repressing the claims of other groups, doesn't work here anymore. The principle of hegemony as a goal to achieve for an oppressed social class loses its meaning. The system has taken over, only the state apparatus dominates . --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies#The_theory_of_culture_industry [Nov 2004]
The theory of progressive evolutionA third view on popular culture, which fits in the liberal-pluralist ideology, and is often called "progressive evolutionism", is overtly optimistic. It sees capitalist economy as creating opportunities for every individual to participate in a culture which is fully democratized through mass education, expansion of leisure time and cheap records and paperbacks. As Swingewood points out (1977:22), there is no question of domination here anymore. In this view, popular culture doesn't threaten high culture, but is an authentic expression of the needs of the people. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies#The_theory_of_progressive_evolution [Nov 2004]
Contemporary popular culture studies
If we forget precursors such as Umberto Eco for a moment, popular culture studies as we know them today were developed in the late seventies and the eighties. The first influential works were generally politically left-wing and rejected the "aristocratic" view. However they also criticized the pessimism of the Frankfurt School: contemporary studies on mass culture accept that, apparently, popular culture forms do respond to widespread needs of the public. They also emphasized the capacity of the consumers to resist indoctrination and passive reception. Finally, they avoided any monolithic concept of mass culture. Instead they tried to describe culture as a whole as a complex formation of discourses which indeed correspond to particular interests, and which indeed can be dominated by specific groups, but which also always are dialectically related to their producers and consumers.
A nice example of this tendency is Andrew Ross's No Respect. Intellectuals and Popular Culture (1989). His chapter on the history of jazz, blues and rock, does not present a linear narrative opposing the authentic popular music to the commercial record industry, but shows how popular music in the US, from the twenties until today, evolved out of complex interactions between popular, avant-garde and commercial circuits, between lower and middle class kids, between blacks and whites. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies#Contemporary_popular_culture_studies [Nov 2004]
Traces of the theory of culture industry
Still the traditional views have a long life (overview based on Clem Robyns, 1991). The theory which has been abandoned most massively is the monolithic, pessimistic view on the culture industry of the Frankfurt School. However, it is still hotly debated. The criticism raised can be summarized in three main arguments. First of all, the culture industry theory has completely abandoned the Marxist dialectic conception of society. Every impulse, according to this view, comes from above. Resistance and contradiction are impossible, and the audience is manipulated into passivity. Alan Swingewood and others emphasize that the Frankfurt theory has to be seen in the light of left-wing frustrations about the failure of proletarian revolutions early this century, and the easy submission of the European nations to fascism.
A second reproach is that this view may be as elitist as its aristocratic counterpart. Both establish the lonely, autonomous, avant-garde intellectual as the only light in a zombie society. Thus the former Marxists arrive at an uncritical praise of the elitist and anti-revolutionary upper class culture. This brings us to a third argument, already made in the sixties by Umberto Eco (1988). In a state-dominated mass society, the lonely, lucid, intellectual Übermensch can only retreat in his ivory tower. The historicity of the contemporary situation is not taken into account, so its internal contradictions are ignored, and thus revolution can only be seen as purely utopian. The culture industry theory, therefore, would lead to passivity and thereby becomes an objective ally of the system it pretends to criticize.
It is of course mainly the influence exercized by the Frankfurt School which matters here: not all of their texts present the same rigid view. In "Das Schema der Massenkultur" (1973-86:331), for instance, Adorno discusses a "nucleus of individuality" that the culture industry cannot manipulate, and which forces her to continuously repeat her manipulation.
However questioned this view on popular culture may be, it still leaves some traces. For instance, in theories depicting narrative as necessarily ideologically conservative, like Charles Grivel's Production de l'intérêt romanesque (1973). Such theories see dominant ideology as purely a matter of messages, propagated in this case through the forms of narrative fiction. Thus they easily arrive at an exaltation of experimental literature as necessarily revolutionary. However, they may neglect the fact that the ideology is never simply in the message, but in the position of the message in the general social discourse, and in the position of its producers in the social formation.
Other theories easily yielding to monolithical thought stem from the emancipation movements of oppressed groups. Early feminist scholarship, for instance, often described society as universally and transhistorically dominated by patriarchy in every aspect of life, thereby presenting a pejorative view of the women they claim to defend. As Andrew Ross (1989) convincingly shows, the same remark goes for the widely accepted account of rock history as a continuous appropriation of black music by a white music industry. Only studies analyzing the cultural oppression of homosexuality seem to take a less deterministic position. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies [Nov 2004]
Contemporary liberal pluralism
In liberal-pluralist accounts of popular culture, the theorizing on its supposedly liberating, democratizing function is nowadays most often pushed to the background. This type of criticism, often produced by people who are also active in popular-literary writing themselves, often amounts to paraphrase and suffers from an uncritical identification with the study object. One of the main aims of this type of criticism is the establishment of ahistorical canons of and within popular genres, in the image of legitimized culture. This approach however has been accused of elitism as well.
To put it simply: the intellectual, in this view, can fully enjoy junk culture because of his or her high culture background, but the average reader can never raise to the learned intellectual discourse of which he or she is the object. An example of this form of appropriation is Thomas Roberts's An Aesthetics of Junk Fiction (1990). Though Roberts claims to take a distance from studies of canonical fiction, he justifies his (implicit) decision to impose canonical models on popular fiction as follows: "If people who read Goethe and Manzoni and Pushkin with pleasure are also reading detective stories with pleasure, there is more in the detective story than its critics have recognized, perhaps more than even its writers and readers have recognized" (1989:5). This illustrates a frequent strategy: the legitimation of popular fiction on the basis of its use of canonized literary features, and of the legitimized public's response to it. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies [Nov 2004]
Contemporary apocalyptic thought
Equally alive is the aristocratic apocalyptic view on mass culture as the destruction of genuine art. As Andrew Ross (1989:5) writes, a history of popular culture is also a history of intellectuals, of cultural experts whose self-assigned task it is to define the borders between the popular and the legitimate. But in contemporary society the dispersed authority is ever more exercized by "technical" intellectuals working for specific purposes and not for mankind. And in the academic world growing attention for popular and marginal cultures threatens the absolute values on which intellectuals have built their autonomy.
In the sixties, Marshal McLuhan caused wide irritation with his statement that the traditional, book-oriented intellectuals had become irrelevant for the formulation of cultural rules in the electronic age. This is not to say that they lost any real political power, which humanist intellectuals as such hardly ever had. It does mean, however, that they are loosing control of their own field, the field of art, of restricted symbolical production (Pierre Bourdieu). While in the 19th century, intellectuals managed to construct art as a proper, closed domain in which only the incrowd was allowed to judge, they have seen this autonomy become ever more threatened by 20th century mass society. The main factor here was not the quantitative expansion of consumption culture, nor the intrusion of commerce into the field of art through the appearance of paperbacks and book clubs. After all, protecting art from simplicity and commerce was precisely the task intellectuals set for themselves.
More important is the disappearance of what has been called the "grand narratives" during this century, the questioning of all-encompassing world views offering coherent interpretations of the world and unequivocal guides for action. As Jim Collins argues in Uncommon Cultures (1989:2), there is no master's voice anymore, but only a decentered assemblage of conflicting voices and institutions. The growing awareness of the historical and cultural variability of moral categories had to be a problem for an intellectual class which had based its position on the defense of secular but transhistorical values.
This brings us to a second problem humanist intellectuals face, that is, the fragmentation of the public. 19th century intellectuals could still tell themselves that they were either writing for their colleagues, or teaching the undifferentiated masses. 20th century intellectuals face a heterogeneous whole of groups and mediums producing their own discourses according to their own logic and interests. Thus they can't control the reception of their own messages anymore, and thereby see their influence on the structuring of culture threatened. Many neo-apocalyptic intellectuals, such as Alain Finkielkraut and George Steiner, emphasize their concern about the growing "illiteracy" of the masses. In practice they seem to be mainly concerned with high culture illiteracy, the inability to appreciate difficult art and literary classics.
The neo-aristocratic defense of so-called transhistorical and universal human values may also often be linked to a conservative political project. A return to universal values implies the de-legitimation of any group which does not conform to those values. It is no coincidence, therefore, that attempts in the United States to define a common "American cultural legacy" tend to neglect the cultures of ethnic minority groups. Or that the fight against franglais (French "contaminted" by American English) in France was mainly fought by intellectuals seeing their traditional position in French society threatened by the import of American cultural products, as Clem Robyns (1995) describes. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies [Nov 2004]
Recurring issues in popular culture studies
The interactions between popular and legitimized culture
The blurring of the boundaries between high and low culture is one of the main complaints made by traditional intellectuals about contemporary mass society. It's hardly surprising then that a lot of studies deal with this topic. There are for instance a number of sociological studies on literary institutions which are held responsible for this mix. Among the first were the commercial book clubs, such as the Book-of-the-Month-Club, appearing from the twenties on. The aggressive reactions they provoked are described by Janice Radway (1989) in "The Scandal of the Middlebrow". According to Radway, the book clubs were perceived as scandalous because they blurred some basic distinctions of cultural discourse. In a society haunted by the spectre of cultural standardization and leveling towards below, they dared to put "serious" fiction on the same level as detective, adventure stories, biographies and popular non-fiction. Book clubs were scandalous because they created a space were high and low could meet.
Soon, the term "middlebrow" was introduced to qualify this phenomenon, and to dismiss it as threatening the authenticity of both high and popular culture. A bit after the book clubs came the paperbacks, and their influence was even more wide-ranging. More about this can be found in Thomas Bonn's book (1989) on New American Library. It shows through what elaborate strategies the respectable hardcover editors had to go, in order to hide the fact that, from the sixties on, paperback publishers had taken over the control on the production of serious literature. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies [Nov 2004]
The possibility of a "subversive" popular culture
The question whether popular culture or mass culture is inherently conservative, or whether it can be used in a subversive strategy as well, is equally hotly debated. It seems widely accepted that popular culture forms can function at any moment as anti-cultures. "Bad taste" products such as pornography and horror fiction, says for instance Andrew Ross (1989:231), draw their popular appeal precisely from their expressions of disrespect for the imposed lessons of educated taste. They are expressions of social resentment on the part of groups which have been subordinated and excluded by todays "civilized society".
The question whether popular culture can actually resist dominant ideology, or even contribute to social change, is much more difficult to answer. Many critics easily read popular fiction and film as "attacks against the system", neglecting both the exact ways in which the so-called revolutionary message is enacted, and the capacities of dominant doctrines to recuperate critical messages. Tania Modleski in "The Terror of Pleasure" (1986:159), for instance, presents exploitation horror films as attacks on the basic aspects of bourgeois culture. Thus a loving father cannibalizes his child, and priests turn into servants of the devil. Other scholars (e.g. Clem Robyns, 1991)claim that, by presenting their perversion as supernatural, or at least pathological, horror films precisely contribute to perpetuating those institutions.
Similarly, many critics exalt stories which feature a lone hero fighting for his ideals against an inert and amoral system. Thus Jim Collins in Uncommon Cultures (1989:30-31) sees crime fiction opposing a smart private detective and an inefficient police force as a critique of state justice. On the other hand, Thomas Roberts demonstrates in An Aesthetics of Junk Fiction (1990:173-174), a study of the historical background of the private detective model, how the detective story came into existence in the middle of the 19th century, at the time the institution of state police was developed. This force consisted mainly of lower class people, but nevertheless disposed of a certain authority over the upper class. The fears among the upper classes for this uncontrolled force were eased by domesticating the police in stories explicitly devoted to them. Their inability to pass on correct judgment was amply demonstrated, and forced them to bow for the individual intellect of the detective, who always belonged to the threatened upper class.
Finally, Umberto Eco's studies on Superman and James Bond (1988:211-256, 315-362) as myths of a static good-and-evil world view, should be mentioned as very early and lucid examples of a combination of semiotic and political analysis.
Still, there may be ways to wage revolt in an age of mass media. One way could be to introduce small gradual changes in products otherwise conforming to the requirements of a dominant ideology. The problem here, of course, is that isolated messages get drowned in the discourse as a whole, and that they can be used to avoid real changes. Some scholars however describe how opposition forces use the logic of the media to subvert them. In No Respect (1989: 123), Andrew Ross mentions the late sixties Yippie movement. Yippies would stage media events, such as the public burning of dollar bills in Wall Street, thereby drawing heavy media coverage. This politics of the spectacle brought the counterculture right into the conservative media and filled their forms with subversive content.
Whether this strategy is effective or not, it points to an important fact: the mass media are not above, but dependent on the public. As Alan Swingewood states in The Myth of Mass Culture (1977:84), the ideological messages the mass media receive are already mediated by a complex network of institutions and discourses. The media, themselves divided over innumerable specific discourses, transform them again. And finally the public meaningfully relates those messages to individual existences through the mediation of social groups, family networks, etc., which they belong to. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies [Nov 2004]
The Discipline of Popular CultureAlthough the study of popular culture -- expressive forms widely disseminated in society -- has a long history, scholars disagree about the origins of the study of popular culture. This disagreement reflects a more fundamental debate over the essential nature of popular materials themselves. Some scholars, such as Russell Nye (1970) and Herbert Gans (1974), equate the materials of popular culture to the mass media, and therefore maintain that popular culture did not exist prior to the Industrial Revolution, the rise of a large middle-class segment of society, and the concomitant rise of rapid printing. Gans accepts the tripartite model of culture as folk, popular, and elite, describing pre-industrial Europe as largely a folk culture ruled by a small elite group. Other scholars, most notably social historians such as Emmanuel Leroy Ladurie (1979), Natalie Z. Davis (1983), and Peter Burke (1978) use the term "popular culture" to refer to the expressive materials of any group, large or small, pre-industrial or post-industrial. By this definition, popular culture scholarship includes work that focuses on pre-industrial expressive forms. Indeed, one might argue that the study of popular culture as a scholarly discipline can be traced back at least as far as the writings of Giambattista Vico, who anticipated today's cultural studies programs as he attempted to discover the "principles of humanity" in his New Science of 1775 (Feldman and Richardson, 1972: 50-61). Whatever their position on these issues, however, scholars agree that the last fifteen to twenty years has seen a significant movement among scholars of all backgrounds toward an awareness of a large body of cultural expression that has fallen outside of most research prior to that time.
In recent years the study of popular culture has become an area of interest in many disciplines. Social and cultural historians, for instance, attempt to recover aspects of everyday life of the past that have frequently been left out of the historical record. In doing so, many historians have focused on popular festivals, carnivals, rituals, and celebrations, such as Emmanuel Leroy Ladurie's Carnival in Romans (1979); Natalie Zemon Davis's Culture and Society in Early Modern France; and Robert Darnton's The Great Cat Massacre (1984).
American studies scholars also are increasingly investigating popular culture. For instance, recent issues of American Quarterly, the journal of the American Studies Association, have featured articles such as George Lipsitz's, "Listening to Learn and Learning to Listen: Popular Culture, Cultural Theory, and American Studies" (42:4, 615-636). Broadly speaking, within the discipline of American studies, research has tended to view popular culture as being coterminous with the mass media.
Popular culture has become increasingly visible in the fields of anthropology, ethnomusicology and folklore as well. Anthropologists have been turning to the ethnographic study of contemporary culture for some time; this is especially apparent in the study of popular music (see for instance, Christopher A. Waterman, Juju: A Social History and Ethnography of an African Popular Music (1990), or Naomi Ware, "Popular Music and African Identity in Freetown, Sierra Leone" in Bruno Nettl, ed., Eight Urban Musical Cultures, 1978). It should be noted that both of these examples are African, which demonstrates that popular culture is not restricted to American materials.
Folklorists often study the popular use of mass culture, as in for instance Angus Gillespie's book Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike(1990), or in ethnographic studies of movie fans who view a particular film repeatedly (Bacon-Smith 1991). Also, many folklorists research traditional aspects of popular music (Ferris 1977, Titon 1978, Santino 1982).
Even more recently, the rise of cultural studies and contemporary culture theory perspectives is very much centered on popular cultural materials. The emerging field of cultural studies often places popular culture within the perspective of the economic production of culture as set forth in Raymond Williams's The Sociology of Culture (1982). Todd Gitlin's study of the television industry, Inside Prime Time (1983), is an example. (See also "Cultural Studies: Eclectic and Controversial Mix of Research Sparks Growing Movement," The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 31, 1990, p. A5) Much of this work is being done in Britain on popular music; an important early effort is sociologist Simon Frith's Sound Effects: Youth, Leisure, and the Politics of Rock 'n' Roll, (New York: Pantheon, 1981).
The Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University recognizes the historical and methodological importance of all of the above paradigms for the study of popular culture. The proposed Ph.D. program will provide students with the in-depth study of each of these, as well as provide the critical skills necessary for their scholarly critique, primarily in the two-sequence introductory courses, PCS 597: Methods and Materials and PCS 598: Contemporary Culture Theory. However, the proposed program espouses no single methodological or theoretical point of view. Indeed, the faculty as presently constituted, and as envisioned for the future, is representative of several different but complementary scholarly disciplines. These include literature, history, music, theology, American studies, folklore and folklife, and interpersonal communication. In addition, we intend to add a cultural anthropologist to the faculty to increase our strengths in the popular culture of other nations.
Nevertheless, despite the diversity of disciplinary backgrounds, members of the faculty approach the study of popular culture with certain shared points of view. These include the conviction that materials which are genuinely popular, whether we ourselves approve of or enjoy any particular item or genre, are socially and possibly aesthetically significant. Indeed, the ongoing controversies over censorship, rock music lyrics, and the content of music videos suggest the extent to which people in our society themselves recognize the impact and significance of these and other popular forms. --http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/popc/bkgrnd.html 
Popular culture studies: a background"Popular culture studies" is the scholarly investigation of expressive forms widely disseminated in society. These materials include but are not restricted to products of mass media such as television, film, print, and recording. Thus, popular culture studies may focus on media genres such as situation comedies, film noir, best-selling novels, or rap music. Other, non-mediated aspects of popular culture would include such things as clothing styles, fads, holidays and celebrations, amusement parks, both amateur and professional sports, and so forth. Ideally, the study of these or any other popular materials should be done holistically, viewing them both aesthetically and also within the social and cultural contexts in which the materials are created, disseminated, interpreted, and used. In this way the study of popular culture involves the use of methodologies from both the humanities and the social sciences in the effort to interpret expressive cultural forms, specifically those that are widely disseminated in a group (that is, that are popular) as part of dynamic social intercourse.
Popular culture scholars study these created, expressive and artistic materials as their primary data, much as literary scholars take the novel or the sonnet as their primary data. In this way, popular culture studies is within the tradition of the humanities. However, popular culture studies differs from traditional humanities studies in that it recognizes the existence of alternative systems of aesthetics which guide the creation of popular materials and the evaluation of those materials by an audience. Albert Lord, in his important work The Singer of Tales (1960), identified the ways singers of epics in Eastern Europe learn their art orally and how they compose as they perform. He suggests that these performances and the poems themselves be judged according to the specific goals of the artists and the audiences, and be judged according to an understanding of the problems unique to an oral poet. In other words, oral poetry is a different genre than written poetry. Each has its own aesthetic standards, and it is misguided to judge one by the standards of the other. Popular culture scholars recognize this principle and extend it to the popular arts such as television programs, popular films, popular music, best-selling novels, genre fiction such as mysteries or romances, and so on.
Each medium or genre has an audience that can and does make evaluations according to aesthetic criteria. These criteria are usually unarticulated, but they are no less real because of it. People regularly make choices as to which book to read or movie to see, and just as regularly evaluate the experience: this was a good thriller, this is a great party song. Because these aesthetic criteria are generally unarticulated, it is the task of the researcher to identify them through ethnographic methods such as interviews and participant observation, as well as humanities techniques such as textual analysis. The term ethnography refers to the cultural description of any event or artifact, usually as expressed and perceived by those people who are participants in the event, producers, consumers or users of the artifact, or members of the cultural group in question. After these insider (or native) perceptions and categories are documented, the researcher may undertake the scholarly analysis of the materials as components of a dynamic social and cultural field of behavior. These methods enable the popular culture scholar to situate the discussion of any aspect of popular culture within the larger context of the meanings and values of the society within which it exists; to determine, as Clifford Geertz has suggested, what we need to know in order to make sense of something (1984). In this way, the scholarly discipline of popular culture studies employs methodologies from both the humanities and the social sciences. Social science methodologies enable the popular culture scholar to root an expressive form in its social context and to uncover the aesthetic system upon which it is judged. Humanities approaches provide models for the appreciation of aesthetic forms and enable the scholar to apply theories of genre and make comparative analytical statements. As social science and humanities methodologies are combined in the study of artistic forms of expression that are broadly based in society, scholars can begin to provide an understanding of the social and cultural significance of these artistic forms, and begin to determine the aesthetic, social, commercial, and technological considerations that underlie their creation, distribution, and reception. --http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/popc/bkgrnd.html 
A Theory of Popular Culture (1944) - Dwight Macdonald
In 1944, meanwhile, Dwight Macdonald, an editor of Partisan Review, published his seminal essay “A Theory of Popular Culture” – to which T.S. Eliot paid the compliment in 1948 of saying that he believed Macdonald’s was the best alternative to Eliot’s own Notes Toward the Definition of Culture. Macdonald for his part refined his views in 1953 with the essay, “A Theory of Mass Culture,” later expanded in the long essay, “Masscult and Midcult.” Roger cites Eliot frequently in his book, but he does not cite the American Macdonald – though truth to tell, Roger seems to me rather closer to Macdonald than to Eliot. --Culture: High, Low, Middlebrow, and Popular by Mark C. Henrie via http://www.isi.org/lectures/text/pdf/henrie10-15-04.pdf [May 2006]
Dwight Macdonald (1906-1982) was an American writer, editor, social critic, philosopher, and political radical. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwight_MacDonald [May 2006]
See also: T. S. Eliot - mass culture - popular culture theory
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