"Popular Culture" and the Academy

Igor Johannsen

Abstract


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.


Keywords


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

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

Igor Johannsen is a research fellow in the research network "Re-Configurations: History, Remembrance and Transformation Processes in the Middle East and North Africa" at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS) at the University of Marburg, Germany. He received his Magister Artium in Islamic Studies, History and Political Science from the University of Hamburg in 2011, and he is a doctoral candidate at the Department for Arabic Language and Culture at the CNMS. His main fields of interest are hip hop-culture, cultural theory, Arabic history and philosophy, and the political geography of the Middle East and Islam.

email: igor.johannsen@staff.uni-marburg.de