"Popular Culture" and the Academy

Igor Johannsen


The term “popular culture” is mostly used to describe either cultural practices or products that are widespread and available for mass consumption or those practices that belong to the cultural sphere of “ordinary” people. The use of this concept in scholarly research and debate, however, is far from concise and often lacks the analytical clarity needed for sound and convincing knowledge production. Lacking a precise and viable definition for this concept, this essay argues for abolishing it in favor of the concept of “culture,” which in itself can be operationalized so as to accommodate all forms and practices that can be perceived as cultural. The central argument consists of a critique of the inherent classifications of culture through respective adjectives that inevitably lead to normative assumptions and presuppose specific research questions or methods.


Popular Culture; Ordinary People; Academia and Culture; Hip Hop

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17192/meta.2017.7.6379