Cultures populaires, identités et politique
Bennetta Jules-Rosette, Denis-Constant Martin
Popular culture is a terrain on which social identity and collective representations are forged. Recently, scholars in the areas of anthropology, cultural studies, political science, and literature have approached the social and political implications of popular culture from contrasting perspectives. These approaches have opened up a number of important questions and debates. Is popular culture a product of resistance or a source of escape? Are the mixtures, fusions, and combinations that characterize popular culture today emblems of identity, signs of an inevitable process of globalization, or by-products of complex processes drawing upon the dialectics of universalization and discourses of contestation ? This paper addresses these questions by examining theories of the production, reception, and consumption of popular culture in comparative perspective. It explores the structures of signification that arise in the transmission of popular culture and the complexities and ambivalences involved in the cycle of communication. Popular culture is analyzed as a permeable system of significations based on memory, and providing material for the construction and expression of collective identity, and contrasting attitudes towards power. An overview of recent theoretical and methodological developments is followed by a comparative analysis of data drawn from popular art and music in Africa, the Antilles, Europe, India, Latin America, and the Unites States. In conclusion, new theoretical directions are suggested in order to reassess the implications of empirical studies in the field.
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