Sociology Index

CULTURAL STUDIES

Cultural Studies was associated with the Frankfurt School in the early decades of the twentieth century. Cultural Studies was dealt with in the writings of the Birmingham Centre for Cultural Studies. Both of these groups began to look at culture as a force shaping lived human experience, rather than at the level of abstract generalization. There is no simple definition as to what is culture. We can only define culture by defining what the concept of culture includes. Cultural practices relate to everyday life, economy, politics, technology and the also environment. Capitalist societies are characterized by a Consumer Culture. Cultural studies in sociology of Fashion Culture relate the studies of fashion to two central sociological themes: social control and social change.

We see cyberculture in social interaction, in chatroom communication and in video-conferencing. Corporate culture guides how employees think, act and feel. Cross Culture interactions of people from varying backgrounds are vital in international business. Cultural Studies began to build on Antonio Gramsci's concept of hegemony to demonstrate how class or gender rule is pervasively dispersed in society, in institutional structures and cultural beliefs and values. Cultural Studies traces the relationships among aesthetic, anthropological, and political economic aspects of cultural production and reproduction.

Cultural studies also includes sociological work. We have tried to outline some of the broad-ranging debates which have been going on about the concept of culture, the diverse forms of culture and the cultural trends during the past and present times. We have tried to offer some insight into what the culture debate means in our own lives and to provide some examples of how cultural meanings are formed, maintained, and changed. A number of suggestions are made for the use of survey data within a Cultural Studies framework that allow us to explore contemporary ideologies.

Cultural studies is a discursive formation, that is, ‘a cluster of ideas, images and practices, which provide ways of talking about, forms of knowledge and conduct associated with, a particular topic, social activity or institutional site in society’ (Stuart Hall, 1997a: 6). Cultural studies has always been a multi- or post-disciplinary field of enquiry which blurs the boundaries between itself and other ‘subjects’. It is not physics, it is not sociology and it is not linguistics, though it draws upon these subject areas. Indeed, there must be, as Hall (1992a) argues, something at stake in cultural studies that differentiates it from other subject areas.