In the recent past, cultural studies have become increasingly difficult to define owing to the fact that is adherents have constantly transcended the confines of communication scholarship and political activism. This disciplinary and institutional resistance has resulted in this issue being aptly described by renowned scholars such as James Carey in their intellectual biographies and the geographical locations such as by the University of Illinois cultural studies department. Reconfigurations and multiple spin-offs in disciplines such as social sciences and humanities ranging from postcolonial theory to queer theory have been advanced in this field. The challenge posed by cultural studies on established ideas in literature has been described here-in.
Baran and Davis note in a major mass communication theory defines cultural studies within the cultural changes as part of the final five theoretical bases thereby pointing to its marginality in relation to other media. British cultural studies depict cultural studies as one of the modern-day schools of neo-Marxist theory. It is further considered a sub-theory of critical cultural studies coupled with the Marxist theory, political economy theory, the Frankfurt School, textual analysis and criticisms in literature and the Canadians Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis theories on media among others.
However, in resisting categories, cultural studies are viewed as an open field that defies method and tradition. For instance, the 1992 study by Cary Nelson, Paula Treichler, and Lawrence Grossberg notes that cultural studies defy all methodologies and their associated research domains together with any intellectual legacy proposed in tradition and language. These studies not only suggest that cultural studies avert being a conventional discipline but are further anti-disciplinary.
It crosses disciplines from feminism and Marxism to such domains as psychoanalysis and postmodernism. They are further described as ‘bricolage’ in that they have no definite methodology of textual and content analysis, deconstruction, ethnography, semiotics and any other methodologies. Although these methods are diverse, each is applied contextually and self-reflexively.
Although such counter-views exist, a harmonized approach in the literature as to the definition of cultural studies has been attempted by Nelson, Treichler, and Grossberg in their general all-inclusive definition on domains and methods. Cultural domains are there-in defined as inter-, trans-, and counter-disciplinary thereby maintaining wide, anthropological views and constricted, humanistic concepts based on culture. This field is seen as studying industrial societies and insistent on the treatment of high and popular culture as defined by class as equivalent to cultural productivity which is then contrasted to other social and historical forms. Culture is viewed as a way of life with arrange of practices in place such as attitudes, language, ideas, power and institution structures. Its traditions entail political goals and cultural change studies that aim at its intervention. This forms a sound analytical base for culture in race, gender and class.
In an attempt to define cultural studies, Hartley outlines the genealogical and institutional levels of concern. He finds this discipline to be in the 1960s as an “intellectual enterprise of the left” that bordered on the worse in the 1980s and 90s due to transformation to an “academic subject increasingly of the center.” He further finds cultural studies as names of “prodigal parents” who initiated a field that avoids authority and orthodoxy while committing to interdisciplinary works without ‘a unified theory, textual canon, disciplinary truths, agreed methodology, common syllabus, and examinable content or professional body.”
Steven Best and Douglas Kellner however call for a multi-perspective and multidimensional critical view of cultural studies in the media and society in its relation to all dimensions in society such as cultural, political, social and economic in the dominant mode of social organization. For instance advertising not only influences capitalism and the economy but also cultural life and politics. Multiple perspectives such as Marxism and feminism, economics, postmodernism and the critical theory should be adopted. This should be treated as relatively autonomous so as to invite an analysis from other disciplines.
Given this diverse and controversial view, a historic approach must be conceptualized in communication research since the end of World War II. In reviewing North America, University of Iowa’s Hanno Hardt uses the critical theory by grouping it to cultural studies. Communication can hence be viewed as environments in which culture creates the social context so as to derive meaning. Critical theory and cultural studies are seen as radical through an approach on the research on longer history of U.S. mass communication.
Hegemony and Ideology
Hegemony aims at having false consciousness as its desired end product such as it was applied by U.S. cultural historian Williams and later Todd Gitlin as to mass media. Italian
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