This book represents a distinctive approach to cultural analysis, using multi-dimensional methods for addressing issues of public interest. The approach, which deploys Jim McGuigan's original concept of the cultural public sphere, is demonstrated in several case studies, including:

  • Celebrity death Festivals and urban regeneration
  • Race and multicultural controversy
  • Popular television (for instance, Little Britain and The Apprentice)
  • Social significance of the all-purpose mobile communication device in a privatized and individualized way of life
  • Riskiness and uncertainty at both the levels of environmental politics and working life in the creative and media industries

These various case studies are analyzed with regard to the dialectic of production and consumption in cultural circulation and situated in relation to major issues of social change. The book stresses the impact of neoliberalism throughout the world since the 1970s and the formation of a cool-capitalist culture that has colonized everyday life around much of the globe. In effect, this is a radical intervention in the research agendas and conceptual development of cultural policy studies, cultural sociology, and, more generally, in the broad field known as cultural studies. It offers challenging theoretical arguments that are substantiated with concrete evidence of cultural and social processes.

The Cultural Public Sphere

The cultural public sphere


The public sphere is both ideal and actual. The actuality is a good deal less perfect than the ideal of free and open debate that has policy consequences in a democratic polity.

Jürgen Habermas's The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, originally published in 1962, identified the formation of a bourgeois public sphere in eighteenth-century Europe, especially in Britain and France. Prototypically, the London coffee houses were sites of disputation where everyone present – middle-class males, for once on a par with aristocrats – had their say, in principle, on the issues of the day. Thus, the bourgeoisie found its voice in the transition from feudalism to capitalism; and this was represented in the press and other forms of ...

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