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By Douglas Kellner

First released in 1995. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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Thus, in Latin America and elsewhere, “popular forces” describe groups struggling against domination and oppression, while “popular culture” describes culture of, by, and for the people, in which they 34 Theory/context/methods produce and participate in cultural practices that articulate their experience and aspirations. Calling mass-mediated commercial products of the culture industries “popular culture” thus collapses a distinction between two very different sorts of culture. S. with individuals and groups that often eschew critical, theoretically informed, and political approaches to culture, it is risky to use the term “popular culture,” though Fiske has tried to provide it with an inflection consistent with the left-populist and socially critical approach of cultural studies.

Theory, as the following studies hope to demonstrate, can be useful, but it is a grave mistake to believe that there is a supertheory or master narrative that will provide the interpretive or explanatory keys to all of our intellectual and political problems. 13 Contemporary societies require constant mappings and remappings because of the intensity of change and speed of current social transformations. We are living through an epoch of intense change, and many of the current theories of society describe aspects of this change, and are thus relevant in various specific contexts.

As I indicate below, the Frankfurt School inaugurated critical studies of mass communication and culture and developed an early model of cultural studies. There are indeed many traditions and models of cultural studies, ranging from neo-Marxist models developed by Lukàcs, Gramsci, Bloch, and the Frankfurt School in the 1930s to feminist and psychoanalytic cultural studies. 16 The major traditions of cultural studies combine—at their best—social theory, cultural analysis, history, philosophy, and specific political interventions, thus overcoming the standard academic division of labor by surmounting specialization which bifurcates the field of study of the media, culture, and communications.

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