If we discuss about popular culture, what is pop-culture that we think about? Are hobbies, shows, music and television popular culture? What about local festival, events, gossips, or even the topic that researcher discuss, about the youth preferred reading devices, by e-book or traditional book? Is it also popular culture? What about internet? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all media social that we use? What about hasthag that we use to indicate something in photo or status in our Instagram such as #kidsjamannow #savepalestine #saynotodrugs, are they parts or popular culture? Are there differences and requirements to be made within popular culture? What isn’t popular culture?
As these questions demonstrate, defining popular culture is at best difficult. Other researcher has noted that trying to define popular culture “is like nailing gelatin to a wall” (Alvermann, Xu, & Carpenter, 2003, p. 146). Even though it may be, and perhaps undesirable, to arrive at a singular definition of popular culture, it is worthwhile to overview some general understandings of popular culture. In general, popular culture is conceptualized as part of a larger project of Cultural Studies, especially as developed through the work of the Centre for Contemporary Culture Studies CCCS hereafter at the University of Birmingham, England beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The CCCS reshaped the study of popular culture by re conceptualizing the concepts of culture and popular.
The CCCS conceptualized popular as a contested space in which competing interests get negotiated and reworked. They resisted—and in many ways were functioning in response to—the idea that popular culture was simply a mass culture developed and imposed by the culture industry to manipulate undiscriminating recipients with texts. Similarly, they acknowledged that popular culture was not entirely a folk or authentic culture emerging from the ground up or from “the people” without mediation from the culture industry. Neither entirely oppressive nor liberating, CCCS scholars understood popular culture as a complicated terrain of exchange between people and the culture industry, one in which the commodities produced by the culture industry are in dynamic interplay with those who consume them, or “a shifting balance of forces between resistance and incorporation” (Storey, 2009, p. 106). In other words, popular culture gets produced through the interactions between texts and people. As Moje and van Helden (2004) explain, Popular culture is simultaneously a product of people’s imaginations, curiosities, and expressions and an institution with goals of shaping desires and needs, selling products, and manipulating imaginations and expressions. Popular culture is made as people live in the everyday world, and it is made by both people living out their lives and industries trying to sell people goods. (p. 219)
Like all people, young people use popular cultural texts and experiences in unpredictable ways to make sense of and take power in their worlds. What is more, close-up studies of youth often show youth to be making productive uses of literacy, to be sophisticated users of print and other forms, and even to be kind and generous people who are concerned about making a difference in the world. (Moje, 2002, p. 116)