Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Cover Image

Culture Works: The Political Economy of Culture

Richard Maxwell editor
Volume: 18
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 270
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Culture Works
    Book Description:

    This book offers readers a number of ways to link cultural experience to political economy-to become aware of the ways in which political and economic realities and decisions determine the outlines of spaces and activities in everyday life. Unsettling and provocative, Culture Works shows how particular economies and power relations work in familiar and central cultural experiences: art, beer, advertising, dance, sport, shopping, the Web, and media. Contributors: David L. Andrews, Michael Curtin, Susan G. Davis, Danielle Fox, Chad Raphael, Anna Beatrice Scott, Ben Scott, Inger L. Stole, Thomas Streeter. Cultural Politics Series, volume 18

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9169-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Chapter One Why Culture Works
    (pp. 1-21)
    Richard Maxwell

    When we read best-selling books, go to movies, drink a beer, visit art museums, surf the Web, head out to the mall, flip through cable channels, go dancing, check a baseball score, or see an advertisement, we customarily ignore the political economy that hammers these features of culture into shape. For the most part, while we are out on the town or lounging with our feet up at the end of the day to watch TV we don’t think about corporate boardroom votes, lobbyists, public funding of the arts, the end of the Cold War, post-Fordist restructuring, mergers and acquisitions,...

  4. Chapter Two Art
    (pp. 22-59)
    Danielle Fox

    Art and political economy are usually regarded as separate subjects, pursued and practiced by people with very different interests. Yet, they are not as disparate as they seem. Indeed, art that appears to have no visible political content—even that which has been created by an artist without political intentions—can play a significant role in promoting political and economic interests. As this essay will demonstrate, in the post–World War II era, major U.S. institutions such as the government and multinational corporations have used art, and avant-garde art in particular, as a tool with which to shape public opinion...

  5. Chapter Three Beer
    (pp. 60-82)
    Ben Scott

    Mention beer to Americans and predictable images come to mind. Some will think of the baseball game last weekend. Some will picture couches, coolers, andMonday Night Football. Some will recall picnics, barbecues, and hot dogs with family and friends. Memories of fishing trips, nightclubs, corner bars, hockey games, racetracks, rock concerts, restaurants, and fraternity parties might also include a requisite six-pack or pint glass. Other folks will just smile. Undeniably, beer holds an intimate place in American culture. Most Americans, from college kids to senior citizens, enjoy a beer or two now and then. After all, beer aims to...

  6. Chapter Four Advertising
    (pp. 83-106)
    Inger L. Stole

    Throughout the 1990s, advertising expenditures grew faster than the rest of the U.S. economy.¹ In 2000 alone, businesses spent more than $230 billion to advertise goods and services to the American public, and estimates for 2001 place the figure at around $250 billion.² By the end of the 1990s, the average American adult was exposed to an estimated three thousand advertisements per day. The social, cultural, and political implications of this commercial saturation are enormous. As James B. Twitchell puts it, the entire contemporary U.S. cultural experience has become an “Adcult.”³

    What may seem ironic is that despite advertising’s central...

  7. Chapter Five Dance
    (pp. 107-130)
    Anna Beatrice Scott

    This essay will introduce the reader to popular dance as a reified object of cultural and monetary value as well as a marker of race and nation. Although dance is a dynamically unstable activity, changing from heartbeat to heartbeat, space to place, very often it is utilized as a fixed entity by broadcast and digital media to convey skill, emotion, time, location, forces of nature, social worthiness, and race.¹ In entertainment industries, dance appears as both a normalizing event and a marker of extraordinary skill of the performer/product. It is reduced to a lowest-common-denominator teaser, like the woman bent over...

  8. Chapter Six Sport
    (pp. 131-162)
    David L. Andrews

    Any journalist making such trite observations as “it’s no longer ‘only a game,’” “it’s all about the money these days” or, heaven forbid, the interminable, “sport has become big business” should have his or her salary docked and press pass revoked for stating the mind-numbingly obvious. During earlier phases in the evolution of the capitalist system, sport may have possessed a degree of autonomy from profit-driven rhythms and regimes. If misty-eyed nostalgia exaggerates the extent of this long lost independence, then the sport industry’s gross annual revenues of some $324 billion worldwide—nearly half of which is generated in the...

  9. Chapter Seven Shopping
    (pp. 163-196)
    Susan G. Davis

    The opportunity and imperative to shop are everywhere. As retail theorist Paco Underhill rhapsodizes:

    the economic party that has been the second half of the twentieth century has fostered more shopping than anyone could have predicted, more shopping than has ever taken place anywhere at any time. You almost have to make an effort to avoid shopping today. Stay out of stores and museums and theme restaurants and still you are face to face with Internet shopping twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, along with its low rent cousin, home shopping on TV. Have to steer clear of...

  10. Chapter Eight The Web
    (pp. 197-224)
    Chad Raphael

    In less than a decade, the advent of the World Wide Web has allowed millions to take full advantage of the Internet by offering a seamless way to browse linked documents, including text, graphics, audio, and video, and to send E-mail and transfer files. Yet, despite the Web’s apparent offer of cheap communication for all, it is a remarkably costly medium that is unlikely to reach the majority of the world in the near future. It is the Web’s affluent clientele and the new opportunities for marketing to them that have spurred corporations to transform the Web into a consumer...

  11. Chapter Nine Media
    (pp. 225-250)
    Michael Curtin and Thomas Streeter

    Here is a social fact: those of you with children now growing up in English-speaking countries (and in quite a few other countries as well) will almost certainly come to know the characters and plots of Episodes II and III ofStar Warswithin a decade. And this is in a time when there is no telling on what kind of screen or format your children will encounter the movies, or even if they will see them on a screen at all. Your children inevitably will come to know the creatures, heroes, and villains of these films, even if only...

  12. Contributors
    (pp. 251-252)
  13. Index
    (pp. 253-259)