The Production of Culture: Media and the Urban Arts

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Diana Crane

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  • Foundations of Popular Culture

    Series Editor: Garth S. Jowett

    University of Houston

    The study of popular culture has now become a widely accepted part of the modern academic curriculum. This increasing interest has spawned a great deal of important research in recent years, and the field of “cultural studies” in its many forms is now one of the most dynamic and exciting in modern academia. Each volume in the Foundations of Popular Culture Series will introduce a specific issue fundamental to the study of popular culture, and the authors have been given the charge to write with clarity and precision and to examine the subject systematically. The editorial objective is to provide an important series of “building block” volumes that can stand by themselves or be used in combination to provide a thorough and accessible grounding in the field of cultural studies.

    • The Production of Culture: Media and the Urban Arts

      by Diana Crane

    • Popular Culture Genres: Theories and Texts

      by Arthur Asa Berger

    • Rock Formation: Music, Technology, and Mass Communication

      by Steve Jones

    • Cultural Criticism: A Primer of Key Concepts

      by Arthur Asa Berger

    • Advertising and Popular Culture

      by Jib Fowles

    Copyright

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    Series Editor's Introduction

    The complexities of human cultural activities and the significant insights to be gained from understanding their role in modern society has spawned a variety of analytical approaches to the subject. One of the most formidable and yet necessary tasks in cultural analysis is to provide a description of the context within which modern popular culture is produced. In this book, Diana Crane uses clear, precise language and examples to describe and analyze the central issues which have framed the “production of culture” argument within cultural studies. Her main thesis is that we cannot understand such cultural forms apart from the contexts in which they are produced and consumed.

    Crane draws upon a wide range of sources and disciplines to examine the shift in the nature of the production of culture in the period since 1945. In this post World War II period there was an enormous growth in public participation in media culture, due in large part to the increasing use of television. But the other media forms—movies, radio, popular music, newspapers, and magazines—also underwent fundamental alterations in their industrial structure and demographic profiles. The author also traces the increasingly complex ways that types of social differentiation affect cultural consumption, and how these no longer correspond to the traditional notions of high culture and popular culture. The book also contains an overview of the major theories of the interpretation of “meaning” in media culture which are models of clarity, and therefore should be of great use to teachers and students alike.

    The concluding chapters of the book examine the specific urban nature of modern popular culture, and the different production styles of elite and non-elite cultural forms such as jazz, rock, and live theater. Crane concludes with an important chapter on the increasingly global nature of culture production, and why this will be an increasingly significant factor in the future of popular culture. The reader will be struck not only by the clarity of Diana Crane's presentation, but also by the seamless manner in which she has integrated her wide variety of source material to successfully lay out the central “production of culture” issues.

    Garth S.Jowett, Series Editor

    Preface

    This book is intended as a review and a synthesis of the literature on the social organization and interpretation of media culture and the arts. I argue that a major objective of a social science approach to cultural products should be to develop theories that use the characteristics of the media to explain the nature of the cultural products they disseminate. How do the media shape and frame culture? What are the effects of the contexts, broadly defined, in which these products are created and disseminated? By contrast, how do urban environments foster or inhibit urban arts cultures?

    Building on studies in the sociology of culture during the past decade that indicate that the distinctions between high culture and popular culture are socially constructed, this book discusses new and more meaningful ways of distinguishing between different types of recorded cultures and their audiences. Specifically, I will be concerned with cultural products, other than news and information, that exist either as artifacts (in the form of celluloid, tape, or type) or have been performed or exhibited for an audience or spectators, such as film, television, literature, drama, music, and the plastic arts. This book is based on the premise that recorded cultures cannot be understood apart from the contexts in which they are produced and consumed. Because of space limitations, I will restrict my attention to the role of the media and other types of recorded culture in American society during the postwar period (1945–1990).

    A sociology of cultural products must be eclectic, drawing on materials from a wide range of specialties and disciplines, largely outside rather than within the increasingly ill-defined boundaries of sociology. In addition to the sociology of popular culture and the arts, my sources include books and articles from the fields of communication, literary criticism, film studies, American civilization, economics, and art criticism.

    The chapters in this book are based on courses in the sociology of popular culture and the sociology of the arts that I have been teaching at the University of Pennsylvania for the past 10 years. I am grateful to my students for their reactions, both positive and negative, that have led me to new materials and stimulated me to refine and clarify my ideas.

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    Name Index

    About the Author

    Diana Crane is Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and has also taught at Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Poitiers. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fulbright Award and has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She has published numerous articles and several books, including Invisible Colleges: Diffusion of Knowledge in Scientific Communities and The Transformation of the Avant-Garde: The New York Art World, 1940–1985.


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