In our daily life, Popular culture becomes the focus of the public sphere and it is hard to neglect or avoid. Popular culture mostly run by commercial interests, which concerned with profit. However, popular culture is a set where society has a voice and an interest. Popular culture is the chat or discussion starter at school and at social occasions except on rare occasions like presidential elections, and national tragedies. It often obliges as social “glue” and a social divider. It means about friendships solidify around a shared interest in a particular music, style of youth, activity and being outside of the currents of the popular can lead somebody to social isolation. Popular culture is also an essential to the public circle. For instances, it used by some politician to promoting himself on some talk shows, and other examples like nowadays television programs produce episodes that address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and themes related to LGBT. Thus, popular culture is not fluff that can dismiss as insignificant and irrelevant. It can intervene in the most critical civic issues and shape public opinion (Dolby, 2003).
If we discuss popular culture, what is Pop-culture that we think about? Are hobbies, shows, music and television popular culture? What about the local festival, events, gossips, or even the topic that researcher discusses, the youth preferred reading devices, by e-book or traditional book? Is it also popular culture? What about internet usage? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all media social that we use? What about hashtags that we used to show something in the photo or status of our Instagram such as #kidsjamannow #savepalestine #saynotodrugs, are they parts or popular culture? Are there differences and requirements to be made within popular culture? What isn’t popular culture?
As the question showed above, describing what is popular culture is actually difficult. Some researchers have explained that trying to define popular culture is like nailing gelatin to a wall (Alvermann, Xu, & Carpenter, 2003). Even though it may be, and perhaps unattractive, to arrive at a singular definition of popular culture, it is valuable to overview some general understandings of popular culture. Popular culture theorized as part of a larger project of Cultural Studies. It developed through the work of the Centre for Contemporary Culture Studies CCCS here after at the University of Birmingham, England beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The CCCS remodeled the study of popular culture by reconceptualizing the concepts of culture and popular.
The CCCS conceptualized popular as a contested space in which competing interests get negotiated and reworked. They resisted and were functioning in response to—the idea that popular culture was a mass culture developed and imposed by the culture industry to manipulate undiscriminating recipients with texts. Similarly, they acknowledged that popular culture was not a folk or authentic culture emerging from the ground up or from “the people” without mediation from the culture industry. Neither oppressive nor liberating, CCCS scholars understood popular culture as a complicated terrain of exchange between people and the culture industry. One in which the commodities produced by the culture industry are in dynamic interplay with those who consume them, or “a shifting balance of forces between resistance and incorporation” (Storey, 2009, p. 109). Popular culture gets produced through the interactions between texts and people. As Moje and van Helden (2004) explains, Popular culture is simultaneously a product of people’s imaginations, curiosities, expressions with goals of shaping desires and needs, selling products, and manipulating imaginations and expressions. Popular culture made as people live in the everyday world, and it made by both people living out their lives and industries trying to sell people goods (p. 219).
In general, the CCCS and those subsequent scholars influenced by them believe that popular culture represents important sites of meaning making, identity formation, and political activity. By no means, though, is this shared sense of significance meant to suggest a static, fixed view of what constitutes popular culture; to the contrary, popular culture remains a highly contested area of study, where a range of issues continue to be debated, including distinctions between low and high culture, popular culture’s potential for social transformation, aesthetics, and the viability and usefulness of traditional categories such as subculture and even popular culture itself. In addition, the continued proliferation of digital technologies and blurring of lines between media, popular culture, corporate influence, and even schooling continue to push the study of popular culture to new theoretical, epistemological, and methodological directions. Therefore, as popular culture continues to evolve as a complex field of study and site of identity formation in people’s lives, it provides a unique space for scholars and educators, especially those interested in youth, to understand how and why people make meaning in their everyday lives and the pedagogical possibilities these might make possible for transformative educational experiences.