This article explores the relation between popular music and creative cities through the example of Manchester between 1976 and 1997. The formation of a local music scene is analysed through the notion of urban creative milieu stating its historical debt to the city industrial heritage; place-images produced by the local popular music scene are analysed as visual, aural and lyrical productions. The article examines the consolidation of the considered local popular music scene through bottom-up and autonomous projects and the regeneration of some areas of Manchester. It looks at the role of the 'New Left' municipality, its difficulties in recognizing the city's creative capital and its attitude towards the production and consumption of popular music. The conclusions present some general reflections on the Manchester legacy and its significance for a definition of creativity at the urban level.
This article analyses German press coverage of the 1998 football World Cup as a site for discursive constructions of German national identity. It proposes that references to National Socialism and right-wing thought in 1998 were made through reports which presented Germany today as the antithesis of the country pre-1945. Considering discourses on German hooligans and the theme of nationalism, it is argued that liberalism and democracy have represented political cornerstones of German national identity. This image is shown to be challenged, however, by discourses which seek to legitimize nationalism and propose the concept of a national identity based on political integration to be impracticable or even wrong.
This article explores the contemporary conditions of national self-presentation, inviting students of national identity to reconsider the nature of national self-narration through new conceptual tools. It is argued that contemporary nations have two `voices': one is addressed to their members, another speaks to the nation's external interlocutors. Both voices contribute to the performance of identity: for nations which are the product of colonial and `crypto-colonial' encounters, narration is characterized by a negotiation of the boundaries between private and public voices and slippage in utterance. The article introduces a new concept in the study of culture, `diforia', which accounts for both this split meaning of utterance and national performativity in public. The concept is mobilized to examine and deconstruct a recent case of Greek diforia enacted in the context of the opening and closing ceremonies of Athens 2004.
The 60th anniversary celebration of the end of the Second World War became an important political, social and media event. Memory rituals, speeches and official announcements, celebrations, movies and reports created an ensemble of social activities that re-dramatized the historic event. In these kinds of memorial rituals the re-dramatization of history becomes part of collective memory, in which a shared image of historic incidents is created. Media and especially television play an important role in this making of history. Today, television is one of the most important agents for communicating historical events. At the same time the tendency of historical television documentary is to adopt increasingly popular forms and elements of feature films. This has led to a popular form of historical event television. One of its main genres is the docudrama. The article reviews contemporary docudramas about Nazism and Second World War on German television.
This article examines the discourses of forced prostitution that circulated in the US and European media and government publications in the context of the soccer World Cup in 2006. This analysis of the public discourse around prostitution reveals two themes: concerns about immigration and border security, and representations of gender binaries that serve to relegate migrant women to the status of victim. The fears of increased sex trafficking and the condemnation of so-called ‘sex shacks’ and ‘mega-brothels’ for the World Cup 2006 served as foils for other perceived crises produced by globalisation. The debates struggle with a marked ‘other’ that reveals new forms of racialised ‘othering’: dangerously white, understood as both of Europe and a threat to it. The 2006 World Cup historical moment has implications for how international sports, consumer culture and feminist activism inform and conceal human agency.
Each year the European Union designates one or more cities with the competed-for city brand of European Capital of Culture (ECOC). In several recent ECOCs, such as in Turku, Finland, the management and organisation of the events have caused tension among the citizens regarding decision-making, financing and power over use of the urban space. The focus of the article is on analysis of the discursive dynamics of local activists and their project ‘Turku – European Capital of Subculture 2011’. By emphasising the cultural analysis of activism, the article indicates how the counter-discourse of the activists was produced through cultural production. The project produced a strong movement culture with common practices, anti-neoliberal values and world views. Through cultural production and movement culture, the project participated in the creation of subculture as a fluid and flexible cultural category expressed through stylistic and lifestyle choices.
In the last few years the so-called ‘360 deal’, in which record labels receive a portion of income from revenue streams such as merchandising and publishing, have become increasingly common in the recording industry. However, the most publicised 360 deals have been made not by labels but by Live Nation, the world’s largest live music promoter, and some have argued that the emergence of the 360 deal reflects a shift in the balance of power within the music industry. This article provides an overview of 360 deals, discussing their emergence and overall structure as well as arguments for and against the 360 approach. It examines the broader implications of the 360 deal, concluding that the current situation of the major labels may not be quite as bad as is commonly perceived, and that the 360 approach may help them manage the challenges that they have faced in the last decade.
The image of the trafficked woman from a former state socialist country has come to symbolize the global crisis in sex trafficking. The ‘Natasha’ image is also a referent for the failure of state socialism. This article provides an analysis of the film Lilya 4-Ever (dir. Lukas Moodyson, 2002) to show how both sex trafficking and postsocialism are framed in representations of sex trafficking. The film presents the problem of sex trafficking in two covertly problematic ways, narrowing the issue to prostitution and illegal migration. While the film avoids voyeurism of sexual violence, this is replaced by voyeurism of postsocialist abjection. Postsocialist abjection is aesthetically captured as an eternal state of collapse. Thus, the tragedy of sex trafficking is the result of and a symbol for the failure (post-)state socialism.
This article examines the narrative and discursive strategies that have been mobilised over the past five years in the British community soap EastEnders to construct high-profile child (sex) abuse narratives. It focuses primarily on the long-running retrospective paternal rape and incest storyline that is reconfigured as a maternal melodrama to manage tensions over power, sexuality and the family. The mother–daughter dynamic as a privileged site of trauma and potential resistance to patriarchal control is analysed in both the EastEnders source text and Ronnie and Danielle fan fiction produced by and for female adolescents.
Matt Hills argues that cultural theorists have been unable or unwilling to transcend a dichotomy that places academic discourse and identities in the realm of the rational or passionless, and fan identities in the realm of the immersed or open. As a result, the scholar-fan and the fan-scholar have become liminal and transgressive persona. This article draws on the author’s own experience, and that of 13 other delegates who participated in the Slayage Conference on Buffy the Vampire Slayer held in Tennessee in May 2004, as a basis for exploring the way in which the issues of the fan-scholar identity are lived out. Questions addressed include the way in which tensions between fan and academic identities were manifested, and the ways in which individuals managed their fan and academic identities.
This article addresses the representational conventions and gendered forms of address in online pornography through analysis of 366 unsolicited email (spam) messages advertising porn websites. Combining content description with close reading, it considers the terminology, imagery, narrative elements and points of view employed in advertising commercial heterosexual pornography. The spam advertisements create excessive displays of gender difference. It seems that limited female agency is central, especially in messages advertising reality sites structured by gendered relations of control. Arguing that such displays of control should not be automatically translated as displays of power, this article investigates the representational logic of mainstream pornography as one based on binary differences, juxtapositions and easily recognizable types.
Although there has been growing academic interest in the tendency among transnational adoptive parents in the West to incorporate aspects of the child’s so-called ‘birth culture’ into their lives, much less attention is paid to the role that this culture work plays in families’ quest for full and good citizenship. By drawing on fieldwork among Flemish-Ethiopian adoptive families in a range of different settings, this article frames this practice as conscious and political citizenship work. Although the parenting work can open up possibilities to provide a more dynamic view on identity and citizenship, essentialist views on culture and the tendency to downplay racism and global inequalities create considerable constraints.
Although much work on the long-running Charmed series focuses on the popular appeal of the programme for the teen or 'tween' audience, this article examines the ways in which the show can be seen to appeal to the young adult audience. It argues that those themes, characters and intertextual reference points that appeal to the adolescent viewer also can be seen to speak to the twenty to thirtysomething generation who have turned their back on marriage, mortgages and secure employment in favour of a less rigid definition of adult maturity.
Despite recent burgeoning interest in the body as a culturally constructed project, little research attention is paid to bodily excretions (sweat, urine, faeces, menstrual blood, saliva, mucus, skin oil) and their social implications. The present study addresses this lacuna. Since advertising for hygiene products reflects prevailing ideas regarding the body and the regulation of its excretions, this research focused on two questions: what messages are conveyed by advertisements for products that regulate excretions, and how is shame constituted? The study analysed 159 adverts published in Israeli newspapers. The results indicate that shame or regulation of the body’s orifices and waste do not constitute a frame for promoting hygiene products: cleaning one’s body for hygienic purposes is covert, and adverts reflect a hedonistic cult of the self. This apotheosis of the body implies that pampering oneself requires constant investment, including the purchase of products that serve a hygienic purpose only incidentally.
This article offers a critical textual analysis of hundreds of advertisements that appeared in Polish magazines at a pivotal historical juncture: following the collapse of communism and at the rise of a capitalist market economy in the early 1990s. It draws out from the visual and rhetorical data emblematic themes and sociocultural undercurrents concerning entrepreneurial opportunism and financial reassurance, status envy and post-rationing excess and interconnected solidarity with the West through brands and the English language itself. By studying the anxieties and aspirations represented in this symbolic material, we might better understand how new consumers were ideologically shepherded through a moment of profound political transition. The study represents a starting point for future investigation into how advertising produces its subjects in the aftermath of communism.
This article analyses the representation and consumption of infant formula advertising on Chinese television, following the food scare of 2008 when milk supplies were contaminated with the poisonous chemical melamine. Drawing on the concepts of encoding/decoding and ‘circuit of culture’, the article investigates how the Chinese dairy industry encodes the messages of food safety and quality in their advertisements, and how parents decode these messages as part of their daily risk management strategies. Combining a critical analysis of advertising imagery with focus group and interview evidence regarding its consumption, the article suggests that the dairy industry juxtaposed images of science and nature to mediate messages about the quality and safety of infant formula. The study’s evidence confirms that Chinese consumers decode these messages based on their previous experience and knowledge, exhibiting considerable ambivalence about the advertising of infant formula and reflecting significant anxiety about the product’s quality and safety.
The first part of this article outlines a dilemma in cultural studies and sociology of culture regarding the politics of aesthetics. This concerns whether discourse about the evaluation of symbolic forms serves to reinforce power relations and maintain divisions between people and communities, or whether evaluation can serve as a basis for greater commonality. One way of at least beginning to address this issue is to attend to the 'everyday aesthetics' of media audiences, exemplified here in the ordinary evaluative discourse of music users. The second part of the article reports on interview research about musical tastes and values. It analyses these interviews for evidence of the ways in which evaluative statements might involve making connections with others, or alternatively how they may act as barriers to social connectivity or community. How and to what extent might ordinary musical evaluation be thought of as part of potential aesthetic public spheres?
Study of the politics of popular culture has tended to focus on the familiar territory of censorship, propaganda and protest. Without wishing to deny the importance of these aspects of popular culture's politics, this article argues for a broader perspective, one that encompasses policy and aesthetics. It suggests not only that the recent interest in both aesthetics and policy is important to the politics of culture, but that the two need to be linked: that political values and arrangements shape aesthetic judgements and that aesthetic values inform policy decisions. This argument is developed through an analysis of recent debates about aesthetic judgement, focusing in particular on the work of Simon Frith.
Focusing on examples from Guinea-Bissau, this article examines recent attention to birthplace as constitutive of national identity in West African postcolonial politics. The author explores the logic of native birth as a marker of authenticity and legitimacy, particularly in light of scholarship on modernity and postcolonialism. Several explanations from various disciplinary perspectives are offered to examine why the ideological trope of identity as birthplace has potential popular purchase.
Since its foundation in 1998 the ‘Red Hat Society’ (RHS) has become a popular international movement of women aged over 50 that is known for its distinct group performances. Red Hatters show up in public spaces wearing red hats, purple clothing and sometimes red gloves, and engage in various fun and frivolous activities. Previous studies about the RHS have found that its main appeal is that it creates an escape from women’s day-to-day life experiences. However, such outcomes ignore the fact that the RHS’s appeal is motivated also by the particular life histories of its members. To explore the relevance of these life histories, interviews were conducted with RHS members in The Netherlands. The findings show that to understand the cultural meaning of the RHS it is necessary to include a diachronic dimension in the research, articulating members’ current negotiations of femininity and ageing with those of their past.
‘Choice’, ‘freedom’ and ‘agency’ are terms liberally appropriated in recent years by popular women’s cultural genres to advance an image of the new, empowered woman confidently embracing patriarchal heterosexuality and commodity culture. Critics such as Rosalind Gill have linked this image to the influence of contemporary neoliberalism. This article extends these claims in order to argue that with the rise of this new female subject that reflects the workings of the neoliberal process of subjectification as immanent within and responsive to normative power, a more detailed examination is necessary of the changed meanings of choice and freedom. In the light of this changed form of governance and subjectification, feminist critique of popular women’s culture needs to readjust its terms of engagement.
This article argues that researchers involved in cultural heritage preservation need to adopt an inclusive ethnographic research methodology that pays attention to how power, class and status shape communities. Based on field research in Ghimeş-Fǎget, Romania, it discusses the factors that influenced residents’ choice of ethnic identity and focuses on why the Hungarian identity was chosen as the most visible public representation of the town, when residents could have chosen from a variety of other identities. Local efforts to preserve culture, history and self ‘in one direction’ were shaped by the current socio-economic reality in Ghimeş. The article suggests that identity is informed by shifting power relations between ethnic groups and not simply by the more powerful ethnic group in the community. Finally, the article discusses why one recently proposed ‘culturally responsive research methodology’ could not support any kind of legitimate preservation agenda in Ghimeş-Fǎget or any other community.
The article explores how the concept of authenticity is deployed in contemporary Switzerland to delimit not only the representational boundaries of the Muslim (foreign) ‘other’, but also of the dominant cultural self. The authors analyse the act of constituting the authentic other in relation to the stability, comfort and safeness of the dialogically constituted authentic self, as illustrated in a Swiss advertising campaign in summer 2009. To investigate how those power relations unfold in the Ali Kebab advertising campaign, the article draws on a framework of visual analysis that studies the field of significations carried by specific images in relation to the particular context in which they are deployed, then facilitates their recontextualisation within wider social discourses. This sheds light on how the categories of authenticity displayed by the Ali Kebab adverts draw on a deep and powerful colonial imaginary that goes well beyond the borders of Switzerland.
Recent studies of cultural intermediaries demonstrate that economic activity in even the most rationalized organizations and industries is thoroughly cultural. However, they may not do justice to contexts where production and mediation are embedded in communities with distinctive traditions and aesthetic standards. This article offers an ethnographically informed account of intermediaries working within one such context: namely, the organizations and stores composing the ‘nerd-culture scene’ in a Canadian city. Retailers and group organizers enable geeky cultural practices by providing spaces where individuals can develop their interests and hobbies. Their labour is analysed in terms of their subcultural careers, gatekeeping functions within the scene and dispositions towards the ‘mainstream’. They are not simply economic agents but also culturally and socially situated actors motivated to do this work for its intrinsic rewards. Subcultural scenes cut across industrial sectors and cultural industries, making them a special context for the work of cultural intermediaries.
This article examines the first major British television series about the First World War, The Great War (BBC, 1964), in terms of its cultural, historical and aesthetic significance. As a central component of the BBC`s 50th anniversary commemorative programme to mark the outbreak of war, the series was a major media event -a small-screen memorial cast in sounds and images instead of stone and bronze. This article looks at how the British television audience responded to this form of on-screen commemoration. Material for this article was derived from the series' extensive production records housed in the BBC Written Archives Centre at Caversham, Berkshire. This was supplemented by, among other sources, material from interviews and correspondence with several surviving members of the production team. This allows a broader understanding of the motivations of those involved in the production of a groundbreaking historical series, while acknowledging the wide-ranging nature of its audience.
One of the most striking challenges encountered during the empirical stages of our audience research project, `Making Class and the Self through Televised Ethical Scenarios' (funded as part of the ESRC's Identities and Social Action programme), stemmed from how the different discursive resources held by our research participants impacted upon the kind of data collected. We argue that social class is reconfigured in each research encounter, not only through the adoption of moral positions in relation to `reality' television as we might expect, but also through the forms of authority available for participants. Different methods enabled the display of dissimilar relationships to television: reflexive telling, immanent positioning and affective responses all gave distinct variations of moral authority. Therefore, understanding the form as well as the content of our participants' responses is crucial to interpreting our data. These methodological observations underpin our earlier theoretical critique of the `turn' to subjectivity in social theory (Wood and Skeggs, 2004), where we suggest that the performance of the self is an activity that reproduces the social distinctions that theorists claim are in demise.
This article examines British television wildlife documentaries in order to outline the ways in which limited representations of animal behaviour recur. It focuses on representations of animal sexuality, monogamy and parenthood, and suggests that how such activities are repeatedly represented draw on normalised human notions of such behaviour. This is demonstrated through comparison of these representations with literature from zoology and ethology, which shows that a considerably wider variety of animal behaviour has been documented. The article suggests that the discourses of sexuality, monogamy and parenthood are interrelated and interdependent, with the validity of each supported by the existence of the others. It is argued that how animals are represented in such documentaries matters, partly because normalised discourses must be drawn on in order for programmes to make sense of the behaviour they present, but mainly because animal behaviour is commonly used as evidence for ‘natural’ forms of human behaviour.
This article examines the role of the media in the rise of nationalist populism in Finland. The interplay between social media and mainstream media has facilitated the emergence of anti-immigrant agendas into the public debate, which has strengthened nationalist populist politics, despite mainstream journalism following professional ethics of balanced reporting. The article concludes that the traditional journalistic framework of agenda setting is not morally adequate for the new fragmented media environment. It proposes the ethics of hospitality (Derrida, Silverstone) with an emphasis on transnationalism as a moral goal for a multi-ethnic public sphere where everyone has the right to voice concerns and to be heard. Therefore, journalism ethics should address how public debate can be organized in such a way that the principle of hospitality can be achieved. The framework of agenda setting can allow inhospitable discourses to flourish, as the Finnish example shows. Theorisation of hospitality is connected with the need for transnational and cosmopolitan agendas.
Drawing on current research about food-related anxieties, this article argues for an expanded understanding of the presence and location of anxiety in the social. It contends that anxiety is usefully conceptualised as collective and distributed, rather than solely as a property or experience of the individual. Focusing on anxiety as a social condition, the article explores how anxieties become embedded and embodied within routinised practices, technologies and institutions. It draws out and demonstrates the processes and practices through which anxieties are socially constituted and culturally mediated, and through which they travel across spaces and scales. This is exemplified through the case of Jamie’s Ministry of Food (a 2008 television series and media campaign featuring the British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver). The article shows how food serves as a vehicle for the circulation of a variety of related concerns, including anxieties about class and gender relations, notions of place identity and regional stereotyping.
This article presents the ways in which Muslims and Arabs are represented and represent themselves in video games. First, it analyses how various genres of European and American video games have constructed the Arab or Muslim Other. Within these games, it demonstrates how the diverse ethnic and religious identities of the Islamic world have been flattened out and reconstructed into a series of social typologies operating within a broader framework of terrorism and hostility. It then contrasts these broader trends in western digital representation with selected video games produced in the Arab world, whose authors have knowingly subverted and refashioned these stereotypes in two unique and quite different fashions. In conclusion, it considers the significance of western attempts to transcend simplified patterns of representation that have dominated the video game industry by offering what are known as 'serious' games.
This article uses an empirically grounded historical case study of The Salvation Army’s charity shops in Melbourne, Australia to review recent debates around the position and function of ‘cultural intermediaries’ beyond its traditional meaning and application to aesthetic sectors within cultural industries. Drawing on archival research, cultural observation and interviews with staff members, the article focuses on the stores’ specific cultural identity engendered by the organization’s history of remaking the value of discarded objects, alongside its development of individual human agency and context-based community links. Secondhand ‘Salvos Stores’ form a network of hybrid commercial and social enterprises that serves as a basis for developing a wider conceptualization of the notion ‘cultural intermediary’. Following Cronin, Howells and McFall, we argue for an understanding which emphasizes their embedded, contextually reliant qualities, informed by the discourses, practices and networks of sociality.
The role and number of intermediaries involved in the process of artistic mediation tend to be all the more important as the art world becomes more autonomous, ruled by specific values, words and actions. This is particularly obvious in the case of contemporary visual arts, as this article demonstrates. The example of a French member of the Nouveaux Réalistes movement helps mapping the various categories of persons, institutions, gestures, objects owing to which a piece of scrap may be offered the career of an authentic artwork. The article concludes by providing a historical explanation of the growing role of intermediaries in modern and contemporary art, and insight into current French cultural policy concerning intermediaries in the visual arts.
This article examines the strategies of two satellite operators working across post-communist territories of Central Asia: Eutelsat and Kazsat. To do so it develops a critical approach called footprint analysis, which involves investigating the variety of practices that occur within range of a given satellite's service. Satellites have been used in post-communist territories to circulate broadcast and telecommunication signals, facilitate flows of capital and reshape geographic imaginaries. In addition, satellites have become orbital platforms for the Caspian's booming oil industry. Satellites are used to support everything from surveying oil fields to monitoring drilling operations, from construction of oil rigs to the maintenance of pipelines. The article sets out to develop a model of analysis which can account for the more 'cultural' uses of satellites (i.e. for broadcasting) in relation to their more 'extractive' uses (i.e. for natural resource development).
This article uses the popular thought figure of the sleeper as a methodological tool to get a new angle on the cultural analysis of majority–minority relations in Europe. I do so on the basis of an autobiographical essay written by Nazneen Khan, who considers the theoretical possibility that she too might have become a terrorist. The analysis focuses on descent and religion, as specific sources of identification and belonging, and on how and where, in present-day identification, sleeper identities might be identified. The analysis reveals that the definition of the sleeper in the mass media is not the only one possible. This figure can be reconfigured more dynamically and processually as someone who has experienced repeated rejection within structured relations of power influenced by ideologies focusing on blood and religion. In addition, I argue that populist ideas in Europe can themselves be regarded as (racist) sleepers.
The joke cycle about bin Laden and the attack on the World Trade Center is the first cycle of Internet disaster jokes. This article argues that both traditional oral jokes and visual Internet jokes are best understood as a reaction to media coverage of disasters. For Internet jokes, this connection with media culture is even stronger than for oral jokes. Internet jokes are visual collages, assembled from phrases and pictures from popular media which derive their humorous effect from a combination of elements of innocuous genres from media, commercial or popular culture with references to disaster. It is argued that the need for this genre of play is mainly a reaction to the ambivalent feelings provoked by the media coverage of these events. In form and content, digital disaster jokes are a reflection of today's fragmented, visual media culture, as well as a comment on this culture.
The emergence of a relatively new genre, `reality television', has helped to break down the division between text and audience in significant ways, and this presents us with interesting questions for cultural studies. In this article we consider one such text, the enormously successful `reality gameshow' Big Brother, and explore the extent to which it challenges or helps to reconfigure current conceptualizations of the audience and the `television text'. We outline some of the issues involved in analyzing Big Brother and situate the program within the context of the complex history of cultural studies' attempts to `think the audience' for popular media.
The representation of social issues in entertainment television challenges the assumed and nominal function of such programming to simply entertain its audience. Drawing on focus groups with television viewers in the UK, this article explores the ways in which audiences engage with and use entertainment television in discussions of social issues that conventionally have been framed narrowly across news and entertainment media: crimes against children, immigration and disability. Entertainment television that includes alternative perspectives on these issues offers the possibility of broadening resources and encouraging deliberation, although assumptions about the role of entertainment television are reflected in audience scepticism about the appropriateness of using such programming as a basis for considering the social world.
This article will consider in detail the implications of a diffuse social imagination for existing paradigms of ethnographic audience research. The notion of a 'cultural field research model will be offered here as an alternative structure for locating media communities as sites of social practice. This is a theoretical framework that reformulates the conception of media audiences as 'imagined communities by replacing a demographically constituted ethnographic model with an emphasis on surveying the diverse inhabitants of a cultural field constructed around participation in particular instances of media practice.
The article discusses the relationship between broadcasters and their publics in light of the changes associated with competition, convergence arid digitalization. On the conceptual level, the article contrasts four ideal type perceptions of how television may serve its publics: 'citizens', 'audiences, 'custorners' arid players'. While publics, in the early days of broadcasting, wvere served more in their capacity as citizens, the view that the main purpose of broadcasting was to draw large audiences gradually became dominant. In recent years, new communication technologies have operied up further possibilities for serving the public as customers or players. The last category implies that opportunities are created for viewers to engage with television arid each other in a more playful fashion, acting out other aspects of their character than the previous three ideal types allowed for.
This article will examine some reasons why until recently cultural studies did not have much of an importance in the academia of both Germany and Austria. It will give a brief overview of the reception of cultural studies' work on youth culture in the early eighties which led to the wrong impression that cultural studies was basically about the study of youth. It will then be argued that the importance of the concept of 'high culture' (the fine arts, the refined etc.) as well as the traditional opposition of literature and the social sciences and the impact of the Frankfurt School proved to be major factors to hinder a broad reception of cultural studies.
Authenticity or `being true to the self' continues to be a culturally valued quality despite (or perhaps because of) the increasing fragmentation of identities in contemporary culture. Focusing on accounts of the lesbian and gay `scene' of bars and clubs in Birmingham, UK, we discuss how young people employ a discourse of authenticity when talking about leisure. In our interview material, the scene is privileged as a space to be authentic (somewhere to `be yourself'), particularly for lesbian and gay subjects, but also for heterosexual `visitors'. Through a discursive analysis, we elaborate on the contradictions inherent in these constructions of authentic spaces and identities, widening our discussion to consider how the articulation of authenticity in the local context of Birmingham can be seen as part of a broader discourse of authenticity circulated in an increasingly globalized consumer culture.
This article considers the construction of authenticity in documentary films dealing with repression in the former East Germany, focusing on Stefan Weinert’s Gesicht zur Wand (2009) and Christian Klemke and Jan N. Lorenzen’s Das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit: Alltag einer Behörde (2002). Taking as its starting point the observation of two modes of authenticity in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Oscar-winning feature film, Das Leben der Anderen (2006), the article analyses the interaction between referential and emotive elements in non-fictional representations of repression. The use of eyewitness testimony is central to both documentary films, and the grouping of personal accounts can create a self-authenticating ‘mediated remembering community’. However, the observation of complementary and competing authenticities in the medium highlights how the authenticity of the witness account can be both harnessed and undermined by its (re)mediation in cultural artefacts. This adds to our understanding of how versions of contested pasts circulate and become salient.
Many critics have linked the rise of heritage with a loss of primary manufacturing, an association particularly resonant for industrial living history museums such as Beamish. In the context of pastoral heritage representations, the museum develops competing modernizing and industrial strains in English identity. Through its incorporation of industry, Beamish cuts against the suggestion that people and culture organically spring from native soil. Framing itself as ethnographic, the museum supposes a gap between the culture presented and those of its visitors. Yet this presentation inscribes comforting accounts of class and modernity. Through living history museum techniques, Beamish appeals for its visitors to identify with the represented past so as to suggest more firmly a gulf between present and industrial past. As a result, Beamish is less concerned with presenting the past then shoring up a notion of the present as advanced stage of modernity.
Focusing on the differences between the devices and dispositions of cocktail and neighborhood bartenders, this article examines how service industry jobs become cultural intermediaries. Unlike other types of bartenders, cocktail bartenders engage in forms of professionalization to make legitimacy claims and use interactive service work to add value to their products. They possess autonomy and exclusivity over their work in the sense that they control the conditions of entry and legitimacy for a niche within the drinks industry. The conditions that construct this niche are the same that allow bartenders to emerge as cultural intermediaries. They simultaneously bridge and extend the divide between production and consumption. A comparison between the attitudes (dispositions) and practices (devices) that bartenders use to add value to their products and services illuminates the distinctions between positions in this service profession and reveals the selective manner in which cultural intermediaries emerge in contemporary service industries.
This article explores the key moments in Benjamin's and Barthes's analyses of the cultural significance of the photograph. For Benjamin these are: the optical unconscious, the transmission of aura, the representation of cultural and political decay and proto-surrealist political commentary. For Barthes they are: the techniques of the photographer, the studium, the punctum and the ecstasy of the image. These rather different approaches to photography reveal a common concern with history. Both authors have written about the nature of historical understanding, and photography has provided both with a powerful metaphor. What emerges from their analyses of photographs is that each evokes a double moment of historical awareness; of being both in the present and in the past. For Benjamin this is the `spark of contingency' with which the aura of past existence shines in the present. For Barthes it is the `ça-a-été', the emotional stab of awareness that what is present and visible in the photograph is irretrievably lost in the past.
The study of religion leads a curiously secluded life within intellectual circles. This article argues that this is to our loss, particularly on the part of students of popular culture, since a number of the most widely discussed artefacts depend on religious themes for their effect. Taking note of the largely non-religious reception of one TV show, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, the article offers a detailed reading of its constitutive religious narrative, aiming to demonstrate how this narrative owes very much indeed to Mormon theology. In conclusion, the article argues that intellectuals need to regain the skills needed to identify and analyse religious thinking, lest we miss the hermeneutic level on which religiously based artefacts are actually consumed by many viewers.
This article discusses the idea of a 'cultural public sphere' together with related notions of 'the' public sphere, 'counterpublics' and 'discourse publics'. It argues that the cultural public sphere emerges from cultural sources (e.g. ethnic identity) rather than political ones and is organized through private pursuits such as music, domestic life and leisure or entertainment venues. The article investigates the formation of a cultural public sphere by using the December 2005 'race riots' on Australian beaches as a case study. It argues that culture interacts with politics as 'new' media interact with mainstream news; and that counterpublic spheres interact with the cultural public sphere as 'internal' communication coexists with 'external'. The role of mainstream media in reporting and commenting on extreme displays is in part to stage conflict so that the general public can think through cultural-political issues via the theatrics.
Ulrich Beck’s formulation of the ‘risk society’ stresses the central importance of the media, yet is surprisingly reticent about analysing it. This article begins with Beck’s positioning of the media within risk modernity, and argues that in two major dimensions – the different media narrativizations of risk and expertise, and the mutability and mobility of people’s risk identities in their everyday experience – his analysis is significantly lacking. In the Australian research on which this article is based, the authors draw on long interviews as a methodological device, and the ‘border crossings’ contained in risk biographies as a central concept, in examining people’s construction and reconstruction of risk. Rather then Beck’s somewhat universalizing notion of ‘blind citoyens’ facing the catastrophic democracy of environmental risk, we find here a public which draws on a number of circuits of communication in facing a wide range of risks via very specific biographical and social histories. The article examines these situated logics and temporally articulated biographies of everyday life via case studies.
Perceptions and feelings of belonging and non-belonging, security and insecurity post-9/11 among multi-ethnic news audiences interviewed in Edinburgh are bound up with perceptions of nearness to and remoteness from places, people and threatening events. People's senses of physical, cultural and emotional closeness and distance oscillate as a consequence of different push-and-pull factors encountered in the course of their face-to-face and mediated interactions. National government policy and news media play major roles in constructing senses of closeness or separation. Also significant in the formation of relative senses of proximity are local authorities' responses to diversity, as well as lived experiences. News audience members actively attempt to assert some control over their senses of `belonging-security'.