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Research Center "Popular Cultures"

Anyone looking for answers to the question of how our society describes itself cannot ignore the popular. What we know about our society, a prominent finding by Niklas Luhmann could be varied, we know thanks to our participation in popular communication. We know the CIA or women's prisons from TV series, life in Roman camps or medieval villages from novels and their re-enactments, the situation in the Middle East and the Maghreb from social media, classical music from advertising and general education from the quiz show. What has a high response, what is popular in the sense that it not only reaches elites, specialists, subcultures, but also includes large parts of society, determined in a decisive way by the self-images we create of ourselves and our culture. More precise determinations of the popular, its functions and forms, media and processes are therefore an important contribution to the exploration of our present.

The research center “Popular Cultures” aims to describe and analyze central phenomena, processes and functions of our contemporary culture and the self-designs it has produced since the 1960s. Since then, forms of the popular have occupied a central place in Western culture and, in some cases, beyond it, both in terms of the subject matter and in terms of both academic and columnist appreciation. This not only applies to all art branches and media, but also applies to important areas of everyday culture, politics and economics. Our joint research pursues the goal of working out important overarching observational distinctions, categories and research guidelines for the contouring and analysis of this area, which should make it possible to conduct investigations beyond a single discipline. This is also necessary because 'pop modernism', in whose gravitational field many highly resonant and connectable self-descriptions of our society and its staff are produced, shows an epoch signature and the recent past and current present in all its sectors, functional areas and discourses concerns.

At the University of Siegen there are many researchers who are dedicated to the phenomena of popular culture in different disciplines and who deal with the theoretical conceptualization of contemporary and popular culture. The research centerPopular Cultures “as the main topic would therefore like to pursue the question of whether there are theoretical approaches with a view to the popular that are better suited to it than others - or whether there should be a theory that would have been conceived only from the point of view of the popular, that would would, so to speak, 'hug' him. In addition, she wants to promote individual studies and relate them to one another. For these studies, the scope of the concept of popular culture should not be severely limited. Questions of historical folk and class culture should be discussed here as well as those of modern mass communication and (partly avant-garde) pop culture.

The systematic reason for this openness is that in this way the historically very different forms can be examined and conclusions and observation categories of a differential nature can be drawn from their differences. In America and England, for example, there has only been talk of “pop” and “pop culture” since the mid-1950s - so the question of what this pop culture has to do with romantically conceived folk culture is already being asked from a conceptual point of view.

Not only to answer such questions, the research centerPopular cultures “encourage cooperative approaches that would overwhelm any individual discipline. Since popular culture - according to all the available definitions (of which there are many) - always exceeds an art genre and has never been the technical term of a scientific direction or university faculty, it makes sense to address the phenomenon as an interdisciplinary network of different researchers.