Is violence on the streets caused by violence in video games? Do hip-hop lyrics increase misogynistic and homophobic behavior? Are teens promiscuous because of what they see in movies? Popular culture is an easy answer for many of society’s problems, but it is almost always the wrong answer. This innovative book goes beyond the news-grabbing headlines claiming that popular culture is public enemy number one to consider what really causes the social problems we are most concerned about. The sobering fact is that the roots of poverty, child abuse, and unequal public education are much more complicated than the media-made-them-do-it explanations. Karen Sternheimer deftly illustrates how welfare “reform,” a two-tiered health care system, and other difficult systemic issues have far more to do with our contemporary social problems than Grand Theft Auto or 50 Cent.
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Karen Sternheimer teaches in the sociology department at the University of Southern California and is the author of Kids These Days: Facts and Fictions About Today’s Youth (2006) and It’s Not the Media: The Truth About Pop Culture’s Influence on Children (2003). She is the lead writer and editor of everydaysociologyblog.com and has appeared as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, The History Channel, and Fox News. She also serves on the advisory board for YouthFacts.org.
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