Ordinary People and the Media: The Demotic Turn


Graeme Turner

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  • Theory, Culture & Society

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    Graeme Turner takes a balanced and exceptionally reasonable approach to assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the demotic turn in cultural studies.

    Jim McGuigan, Professor of Cultural Analysis and Sociology, Loughborough University

    Turner's book examines rigorously perhaps the most important debate within TV Studies; the relationships between the medium and the ordinary people who appear on it and consume it. Using a wealth of international examples, Turner explores diverse ideas such as new media, community radio and reality TV to show how all forms of media can be understood within the rubric of the ordinary. Smartly and engagingly written, this book draws on Turner's extensive work in this area to show how thinking about ordinary people and media offers valuable insights into areas such as globalisation, media industries, participation, representation, cultural politics and technology.

    Brett Mills, Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, University of East Anglia

    Graeme Turner provides an outstanding intervention in contemporary debates about the emancipatory potential of the new media landscape. While “power to the people” may be the rallying cry in an age of blogging, Web 2.0 interactivity, and reality TV, Turner cautions against confusing the “demotic” with democracy. His deft analysis of how the media industries profit from the promotion of individualism and the “ordinary” compels us to revisit fundamental questions of power, identity, and community. Ordinary People and the Media is required reading for students and scholars navigating the shifting terrain of media and cultural studies.

    Serra Tinic, Associate Professor of Theory and Culture, University of Alberta

    Graeme Turner is one of the most interesting and thoughtful writers in the field of media and cultural studies. Ordinary People and the Demotic Turn is a book full of perceptive ideas and critical insights. Starting from the recognition that there has never been a time when so many ordinary people have been so visible in the media, Turner explores what this means for ordinary people, the media, and media and cultural analysis. This is a wonderful book that should be read by all serious students of contemporary media and culture.

    John Storey, Director of the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies, University of Sunderland


    Here, I would like to acknowledge some of those who have played a part in helping to bring this book together. First and foremost is my editor at Sage, Chris Rojek, who has not only taken this on as a publishing project but has also contributed significantly to the thought which has gone into it, and whose conversations over the last five or six years have proved highly stimulating provocations to my thinking through these issues. I would also like to thank the editors of the Theory, Culture & Society series for their support for this project; it is indeed a privilege to be published within this distinguished set of books.

    Thanks, also, to a wonderful group of colleagues at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Queensland who have listened to the ideas in this book for some time now, in work-in-progress sessions and personal conversations; who have made helpful and informed suggestions about how best to prosecute them; and who, most importantly, have provided me with the most stimulating and collegia work environment an academic could desire.

    Two CCCS colleagues in particular, Mark Andrejevic and Melissa Gregg, with whom I had the pleasure of co-teaching a graduate class on media consumption in 2008, have generously given up their time to look at draft material and make helpful and thoughtful comments. Jean Burgess and Jason Wilson also looked at drafts of sections of the book and provided me with generous and useful comments and suggestions.

    John Hartley may disagree with much of what is written in this book and therefore may not really want my thanks, but he nevertheless remains, as both friend and colleague, a most valued and robust interlocutor on all things to do with the media and culture. Toby Miller, too, has been someone with whom conversations about the planning, structure and orientation of this project have been especially valuable over the last couple of years.

    I would also like to thank the editors of two journals for their permission to incorporate revised and expanded versions of published material in Chapters 1 and 4. The material concerned was originally published as ‘The mass production of celebrity: celetoids, reality TV and the “demotic turn”’ in 2006 in the International Journal of Cultural Studies (9(2)), and as ‘Politics, radio and journalism in Australia: the influence of “talkback”’, in 2009 in Journalism: Theory, Practice, and Criticism (10(4)).

    Finally, I wish to gratefully acknowledge the contribution made to this project by the funding provided through my Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship; being able to work solely on research as a result of this fellowship is truly a rare and wonderful opportunity.

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