With the ‘cultural turn’, the concept of culture has assumed enormous importance in our understanding of the interrelations between social, political, and economic structures, patterns of everyday interaction, and systems of meaning-making. In The SAGE Handbook of Cultural Analysis, the leading figures in their fields explore the implications of this paradigm shift. Addressed to academics and advanced students in all fields of the social sciences and humanities, this Handbook is at once a synthesis of advances in the field, with a comprehensive coverage of the scholarly literature, and a collection of original and provocative essays by some of the brightest intellectuals of our time.
Chapter 11: Cultural Studies
‘Cultural studies’ is a familiar presence in intellectual discourse today, but there is little agreement about what it stands for. As John Hartley recently observed, the field is riven by fundamental disagreements about what cultural studies is for, in whose interests it is done, what theories, methods and objects of study are proper to it, and where to set its limits (Hartley, 2003: p. 1). Such admissions of dissensus and uncertainty are typical of cultural studies. Indeed, boundary disputes (including disputes about its own boundaries) are intrinsic to cultural studies. One could pithily sum up the overarching cultural studies ‘method’ as the contestation of socially constructed boundaries: cultural studies analysis often begins with a thorough questioning of the apparent naturalness of categories ...