Synopses & Reviews
Is violence on the streets caused by violence in video games? Does cyber-bullying lead to an increase in suicide rates? Are teens promiscuous because of Teen Mom
? As Karen Sternheimer clearly demonstrates, popular culture is an easy scapegoat for many of societys problems, but it is almost always the wrong answer.
Now in its second edition, Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture 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 a "media made them do it" explanation fails to illuminate the roots of social problems like poverty, violence, and environmental degradation. Sternheimers analysis 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 Facebook.
The fully-revised new edition features recent moral panics—think sexting and cyberbullying—and an entirely new chapter exploring social media. Expanded discussion of how we understand societys problems as social constructions without disregarding empirical evidence, as well as the cultural and structural issues underlying those ills, allows students to stretch their sociological imaginations.
"Karen Sternheimers new book is a treasure and should be compulsory reading for anyoneinterested in media research, sociology, social policy, and free expression. Her elegant, concise review of key scholarship proves beyond a doubt that popular culture does not cause destructive behavior and makes a passionate call for the need to address the real roots of social ills in our troubled times: poverty, inequality, and an ailing educational system. More than just an excellent read, Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture
is an important book."
Barna Donovan, Saint Peters University
"Dr. Sternheimers book is a fascinating and important work regarding the way in which society constructs panics about media and the collusion of the scientific community in these fears. This work presents up-to-date scholarship and thought in this area and should be considered required reading for those involved in media effects research."
Christopher J. Ferguson, Texas A&M International University
"With this second edition, Karen Sternheimer provides a set of thoughtful responses to the often thoughtless reflex of many who blame the media for all social ills. Presented in concise and compact arguments, the book promotes critical reflection on and discussion about social problems suitable for use within the classroom and beyond."
Daniel Thomas Cook, Rutgers University
"This book encourages students to question the way that social scientific data is reported in mainstream media and to see the limitations of this type of research."
Communication Research Trends
Praise from the First Edition:
"The author cautions against focusing on the media as predator and turns readers attention to themselves and the society they create around and conceivably for their children and families to better grasp how people create and perpetuate social problems. Well researched, with an attention to policy details, this book helps debunk the notion that media is the cause of societys ills. Highly recommended."
children and young adults, [Sternheimers] main argument is that the intersection of race, gender, and poverty makes social problems significantly complex, and as a result, we blame popular culture for societal quandaries because it is easier to convince ourselves that television and video games are the cause of social disparities
Sternheimer asks us to take another look. Her book is a well written rationale as to why we should."
American Sociological Association
"In Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture, Karen Sternheimer delivers a necessary synthesis, with a devastating media analysis, in response to the prevalent cottage industry of exaggeration, myth, and invention about popular cultures impacts on youth behavior. And in layering a critique of society, class, and race over actual evidence she produces a work of great value to those working with or teaching about youth."
Anthony Bernier, San Jose State University
"In this well researched book, Karen Sternheimer gives lie to a full spectrum of false fears about the effects of popular culture on young people. She provides valuable correctives to innumerable myths promulgated by opportunistic politicians, advocacy groups, and journalists."
Barry Glassner, University of Southern California; author of The Gospel of Food and The Culture of Fear
Dr. Sternheimers book is a fascinating and important work regarding the way in which society constructs panics about media and the collusion of the scientific community in these fears. This work presents up-to-date scholarship and thought in this area and should be considered required reading for those involved in media effects research.” Christopher J. Ferguson, Texas A&M International University With this second edition, Karen Sternheimer provides a set of thoughtful responses to the often thoughtless reflex of many who blame the media for all social ills. Presented in concise and compact arguments, the book promotes critical reflection on and discussion about social problems suitable for use within the classroom and beyond.” Daniel Thomas Cook, Rutgers University
This book encourages students to question the way that social scientific data is reported in mainstream media and to see the limitations of this type of research.” Communication Research Trends
Tackling the essential social problems in America through a popular culture lens, this original book debunks the notion that the media is to blame for society's ills.
"Popular culture" is more than just a broad term for entertainment and frivolous diversions; it is also highly relevant to our understanding of society. This exciting book is the first to offer insights into the important, but often overlooked, relationship between popular culture and social problems. Drawing on historical and topical examples, the authors apply an innovative theoretical framework to examine how facets of popular culturefrom movies and music to toys, games, billboards, bumper stickers, and braceletsshape how we think about, and respond to, social issues, such as problems of gender, sexuality, and race.
Including student features, evocative case studies, and access to online material, this book will help students explore and understand the essential connection between popular culture and social problems. Deftly combining the fun and irreverence of popular culture with critical scholarly inquiry, this timely book delivers an engaging account of how our interactions withand consumption ofpopular culture matter far more than we may think.
About the Author
is a sociologist at the University of Southern California where she is also a faculty fellow at the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching. Her research has focused on issues related to popular culture and youth, particularly moral panics relating to both. She editor and lead writer for the Everyday Sociology blog and has appeared as a commentator on numerous networks, such as CNN, The History Channel, MSNBC, and Fox News.
Table of Contents
1 Media Phobia: Why Blaming Pop Culture for Social Problems Is a Problem
2 Is Popular Culture Really Ruining Childhood?
3 Does Social Networking Kill? Cyberbullying, Homophobia, and Suicide
4 Whats Dumbing Down America: Media Zombies or Educational Disparities?
5 From Screen to Crime Scene: Media Violence and Real Violence
6 Pop Culture Promiscuity: Sexualized Images and Reality
7 Changing Families: As Seen on TV?
8 Media Health Hazards? Beauty Image, Obesity, and Eating Disorders
9 Does Pop Culture Promote Smoking, Toking, and Drinking?
10 Consumption and Materialism: A New Generation of Greed?
11 Beyond Popular Culture: Why Inequality Is the Problem