This book is a collection of essays dealing with the ways in which specific popular entertainment media, mass consumer products, and popular movements affect politics and political culture in the United States. It seeks to present a range of possibilities that reflect the dimensions of the current debate and practice in the field. Some of the contributions to this volume place popular culture media such as films, music, and books in a broad social context, and several articles deal with the historical roots of twentieth-century American popular culture. Popular culture is treated as categorically neither good nor bad, in either political or aesthetic terms. Instead, the essays reflect the editors' convictions that popular culture is simply too important to be ignored by those academics who treat politics and its history seriously. The collection also shows that studying popular or mass culture in a historical way illuminates a variety of possible relationships between popular culture and politics.
Ronald Edsforth is Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Class Conflict and Cultural Consensus: The Making of a Mass Consumer Society in Flint, Michigan. Larry Bennettt directs the Urban Studies Program and is Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at DePaul University. He is the author of Fragments of Cities: The New American Downtowns and Neighborhoods and co-author of Chicago: Race, Class, and the Response to Urban Decline.
"I am most impressed with the utility of this collection, the quality of the scholarship, the clarity of the writing, the breadth of coverage, and most important, the kinds of questions that each essay raises. " — Bruce C. Nelson, Central Michigan University