Geography and Popular Culture

Tristan Sturm

in Geography

ISBN: 9780199874002
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:
Geography and Popular Culture

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  • Human Geography



Though problematic, the term “popular culture” will here be defined as products (materiality) and practices (actions and performatives) that are widely available to and consumed by the general public, regardless of social class, in everyday life. Popular culture in this bibliography also includes “folk cultures” and “mass cultures” so as to be inclusive of geography’s wide-ranging theoretical, methodological, and topical commitments, and also to challenge the literature’s normative assumptions about what popular culture is and has been in geography. This interest in popular culture comes out of the “cultural turn” within geography, which sought to create cognitive maps of imaginary spaces. Geographers of popular culture are presently and largely concerned with how popular cultures constitute spaces and identities. Geography since the cultural turn has been concerned with how popular culture—ideas, perspectives, and attitudes toward television, fashion, print media, and other images and ideas—enables and disables identifications of one’s own position within society relative to other individuals, groups of people, and places. These questions concerning identity ask not simply what difference is being produced between cultures (or what social “class,” as Marxists historically have put it in geography; see Theories), but also how difference in identification is consumed. The critical argument concerning popular culture is that its interpretation is an act of power that seeks to discipline its “high” from its “low” iterations: gallery-presented paintings versus street graffiti, symphony versus hip hop, literature versus magazines, and so on. Geography’s theoretical engagement in recent decades with art, music, film, books, sports, and other topical categories has attempted to criticize the privileged assumption that “culture” is knowledge consumed by social elites or is geographically bounded by anthropological geo-packages of people. Popular culture is much more fluid than these definitions will allow in a globalized world where products and practices are available to various groups, communities, subscribers, masses, or nations, therefore, throwing the adjective “popular”—as a synonym for “low” or “mass” culture—into question along with “culture.” Popular culture here also includes what has been identified as marginal or fringe under the category “subculture.”

Article.  11690 words. 

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography ; Human Geography

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