What is pop culture

In the first chapter

(Danesi) presents an in-depth discussion of the origins of modern culture, focusing on its emergence and dissemination from the 1820s to the 2000s. He addresses its unique characteristics, such as spectacle and nostalgia, as well as its intimate association with broadcast technology. He goes into great detail on how the media and technologies play a role in the spread of pop culture by taking into account various points of view. Finally, he shines light on different methods that can be used in the study of culture. Though the author highlights a weakness in tracing the origin of pop culture as history showed that people had various recreation ways before pop culture became popular, he postulates that “pop culture would not have become so widespread without the partnership it has had with mass media” (p.7). Mass media has the capacity to reach wide audiences at the same time leading to rapid spread of ideas over a short period. Throughout the timeline that the author identifies, he cites how media during each period furthered the spread of culture. He affirms the role played by magazines and newspapers in “propelling the spread of popular culture” (p.11) in the 1820s – 1940s and further highlights the influence of music and television and movie theatres in having major influence on the spread of pop culture from the 1950s onwards. As the author points out, media significantly influences cultural expansion.

In relation to technology

The author acknowledges various technological advancements that were symbols of pop culture. He cites that the jukebox was seen as a “symbolic part of early rock culture in the 1950s” (p.23) as it was a major attraction among teenagers in the era. He notes that due to their popularity, jukeboxes became common in “soda shops, bowling alleys and other teenage hangouts” (p.23). An argument by Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian communications theorist, that culture, scientific innovation and social evolution are deeply interconnected is seen as the reason for perceiving various technological advancements as symbols of pop culture. The author as well cites a similar role played by the automobile as a symbol of pop culture citing its occurrence in movies and other types of media.


Danesi, Marcel. Popular Culture. Lanham, Maryland, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.

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