Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility

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9780415886796: Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility

"... a good book to add to an introduction to sociology course if you want to give your students a good sense of how sociology analyzes culture and media....There is a lot in the book and Sternheimer does a good job of weaving together hard sociological data on stratification, inequalities, wage and labor trends to the narrative promoted by the celebrity culture along with changes in the structure and power relations in the industry itself. The book is an easy read with a lot of illustrations from celebrity magazines and so is very appropriate for undergraduate audiences."―Global Sociology

Using examples from the first celebrity fan magazines of 1911 to the present, Celebrity Culture and the American Dream considers how major economic and historical factors shaped the nature of celebrity culture as we know it today. Equally important, the book explains how and why the story of Hollywood celebrities matters, sociologically speaking, to an understanding of American society, to the changing nature of the American Dream, and to the relation between class and culture. This book:

  • Explores the relationship between celebrity culture, consumption, class, and social mobility
  • Discusses social changes pertaining to class, gender, marriage and divorce, and race
  • Includes numerous pictures from fan magazine articles and ads
  • Examines the connections between celebrity culture and economic, political, and social changes
  • Considers the importance of the structure of the entertainment industry to understand how celebrity culture is manufactured

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About the Author:

Karen Sternheimer is a sociologist at the University of Southern California, where she is a faculty fellow at the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching. She is also the author of Connecting Popular Culture and Social Problems: Why Media is not the Answer (2009), Kids These Days: Facts and Fictions About Today’s Youth (2006), It’s Not the Media: The Truth About Pop Culture’s Influence on Children (2003), and is the editor and lead writer for everydaysociologyblog.com. She has provided commentary for CNN, MSNBC, The History Channel, and Fox News.

Review:

"Celebrity Culture and the American Dream is an engaging study of the development of celebrity culture during the past century and a great application of sociological concepts like social mobility and exploration of the also always-interesting idea of the "American Dream." The author provides a very effective and innovative means of conveying what can often be "dry" and "academic" sociological concepts (i.e., social mobility) through something students are inherently interested in, i.e., popular culture and celebrity. What strikes me especially about the book is the author's ability to make sociology personal. The author’s consistent focus on gender and women throughout the work is also a great plus. Highly recommended for sociology courses focussing on media and or culture."―Steve Sherwood, Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles

 "... a good book to add to an introduction to sociology course if you want to give your students a good sense of how sociology analyzes culture and media....There is a lot in the book and Sternheimer does a good job of weaving together hard sociological data on stratification, inequalities, wage and labor trends to the narrative promoted by the celebrity culture along with changes in the structure and power relations in the industry itself. The book is an easy read with a lot of illustrations from celebrity magazines and so is very appropriate for undergraduate audiences."―Global Sociology

"Karen Sternheimer’s readable and well-written book is an interpretation of some 600 popular American film magazines from the early 1900s to the present day. Sterinheimer argues that the study of these magazines is far from trivial because of what they reveal abou the shared fantasies of the American Dream and more precisely ideas about class mobility and the good society." ―Nick Stevenson, University of Nottingham, U.K.

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