This article traces various trajectories of development in the field of Cultural Studies, identifying five in particular: theoreticism, methodism, pragmatism, subjectivism, and consumerism. The article concentrates on the consumerist trajectory as it emerged in Britain. While “the Birmingham School” and “British Cultural Studies” have been used to label this trajectory, it is more accurately named “Hallian Cultural Studies” since Stuart Hall was its leading exponent and inspiration. Hall himself, however, is not necessarily responsible for the problems associated with the consumerist trajectory in the work of his followers. There is a discernible homology and, indeed, to an extent, a convergence between consumerist Cultural Studies and the neoliberal ideology of consumer sovereignty, named here as “cool capitalism.” The genealogy of “cool” is traced and its incorporation into capitalism examined. In effect, this strand of academic work, consumerist and one-dimensional Cultural Studies, which started out as critical of prevailing forms of cultural, economic, and political power, has ceased, in many respects, to be so. In conclusion, it is argued that Cultural Studies should renew its commitment to critique in the public interest and in a multi dimensional framework of analysis.
Research Article|July 01 2006
The Politics of Cultural Studies and Cool Capitalism
JIM MCGUIGAN IS PROFESSOR OF CULTURAL ANALYSIS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SCIENCES AT LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY, UK. HE IS THE AUTHOR OF SEVERAL BOOKS, INCLUDING CULTURAL POPULISM (1992). HIS LATEST BOOK IS RETHINKING CULTURALPOLICY (2004).
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Cultural Politics (2006) 2 (2): 137-158.