The Study of Culture and the Twenty-first Century

The book we decided to study is “Cultural Studies, The Basics, Second Edition,” by Jeff Lewis. The book examines assorted ways in which culture is “formed, theorised and studied. ” Lewis achieved this by breaking up subjects that are culturally related into numerous categories, making it simpler to understand. The book ranges from what affected change in culture years ago when Marx was a “towering figure” in society to now in the twenty-first century.

“British culture eventually moves away from a Marxist based analysis of working class life towards a broader field of culture. A brief summary of what the book includes… popular figures such as Durkheim and Weber both who studied how cultural theory was developed by social action. And other scholars like Heidegger and Adorno, who both believed the moving image and consuming popular culture “transformed humans’ social experience. ” They were correct about the transformation but never lived to witness it fully. On the issues of feminism Lewis writes about The Suffragettes, Marxist group of middle class women who argued that women’s labour is exploited by capitalism.

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Kate Millet, a feminist during the 1960’s-70’s who said the media “exploited and oppressed women by sexualised images of women’s bodies’. ” This then became “central motif to television culture. ” One form of the media that Lewis writes about is the “introduction of writing,” to the ancient cultures of Sumer, Egypt and Greece. Writing changed the economy and lifestyle of these places. In comparison to this is how “televisual and globally networked media,” has shaped cultural over the years. Therefore media has been around a lot longer than many people think.

The title of the book “Cultural Studies, The Basics,” is an obvious answer of it being considered as a cultural studies book; however the book includes many aspects that class it as one. Everything included in Lewis’s book is connected and related in some way to the study of culture. Nothing in the book is irrelevant and pointless. Features in Lewis’s book that relate it as a cultural studies book include… media. It is audiences’ interactions and lifestyle that creates “new meanings of culture. ” This is provoked by the media i. e. radio, television, internet, iPods.

The Payne Fund Studies was one of the early audience theories. They looked into the “relationship between mass media and bad behaviour of children. ” The end result was that there was a significant link between culture and media,”Transmission model. ” Morley’s “Nationwide Project,” showed audience reading was even more complex than expected therefore he investigated into family television, focusing on the way individual family members interact. “Sex and sexuality” is related with contemporary culture… “management and expression of sex are formed around culture.

Foucault writes how the discourse of young women’s bodies has become contemporary culture’s primary sexuality. However nowadays images of young sportsmen, fit and masculine are shown everywhere, meaning it too is now part of contemporary culture. Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies is an important aspect of the development of cultural studies. Key contributors of the school were Stuart Hall and Richard Hoggart, through their work such as “Encoding/Decoding” essay they bring a different focus of media and media texts to the study of culture.

Semiology- the study of signs is significant towards contemporary culture. “Semiotics” is a form of cultural and textual analysis developed at the Birmingham Centre. Postmodernity and postmodernism evolve the development and understanding of contemporary culture. Lyotard a key figure on this subject believed postmodernism is a “gestant” form of modernism. Lewis also includes how the 1960’s was a complete turnaround in culture after many years of silence due to “McCarthyism”. The world exploded with things like the contraceptive pill and revival of women’s liberation movement, changes within fashion also occurred.

McRobbie writes in teen magazine “Jackie” how the magazine seeks to produce a social and cultural order in terms of femininity. The book gives the reader a good grasp of the study of culture as a whole. Many people would think cultural studies are work of the past; that it isn’t linked with news occurring today; therefore it is boring and out of date. However Lewis unlike other authors includes cultural texts that do have a connection with the twenty-first century and how these have shaped culture, e. g. Princess Diana’s funeral, September 11th attacks and Columbine High School killings.

By Lewis adding modern ways, (i. e. globalization, language wars) that have changed culture and not just using the predictable old scholars and theories has made his book wide-ranging and covering all traces of the subject. The chapter on globalization offers how some scholars thinks the processes are about “changes in the global, capitalist economy” while others think globalisation is “driven by communications media and cultural flows. ” Also the chapter on terror examines in which language wars have been forming around cultural conditions of post September 11th.

The book would be most helpful to students and lecturers, not only studying cultural studies but it would also be effective to sociology students as the book contains a large quantity about changes in society. Language is clear for lecturers to understand; however some students may find words difficult as many are complex. The glossary was helpful but there were plenty of words that were not in it. When we experienced this problem we had to check words using a dictionary. The references were very beneficial when searching for other cultural studies related books.

Reading a few cultural studies books will give you broader knowledge of the subject itself. Overall, this book is best suitable for students beginning to study culture. It provides readers with the ability to understand a range of methods and theories of cultural studies. We found that young readers would find modern texts and its relationship with cultural studies most interesting. Texts such as September 11th attacks they can relate to as they experienced and lived through it. We would encourage any student to read this book as they will come out it with a wider perspective that they wouldn’t have known otherwise.