Social Text's engagement with mass culture, and particularly film, began as a way of rethinking the binaries structuring Marxist cultural criticism. The terms shifted over the years, partly in response to political developments such as the culture wars of the 1990s and partly in response to changing editorial commitments, which included a turn toward understanding culture as a domain of labor. The launch of the Social Text Web site represents another stage in the journal's ongoing interest in media as a site of leftist critique.

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