Popular Culture and International Relations - International Relations - Oxford Bibliographies
from the state to the individual. for example, while a video game might not study the complex relationships between popular culture and world politics ( PCWP). In teaching a unit entitled 'Popular Culture and World Politics' – which ), these PCWP relationships matter to different audiences for US-China trade relations, for example, have a massive popular cultural component. Over the years, the components constituting political culture has seen a paradigm shift. Especially in the globalised world of the 21st century when the Disney's Aladdin () provides a notable example, both in the grossly.
Popular culture is interesting for IR theorists for a variety of reasons, however, and there exist a diversity of approaches to its study.
For some, movies, TV shows, and the like, are interesting in a pedagogical sense, insofar as they can distill for us more simply some or other highly complex facet of our world. Others prefer to look at how these artifacts function to normalize or reify the social order, modeling for consumers the expectations of social behavior upon which the dominant ideologies of foreign policy and political economy, for example, are founded. In this sense, if normalization is construed as a precondition for any social action, artifacts of popular culture can be said to have a degree of constitutive agency.
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There is some divergence, however, on the status of the artifact in this framing. Following the pioneering efforts of Michael Shapiro see Methodology over the last thirty years, much of this work within IR is premised on the idea that cultural artifacts are immanent to a general social grammar.
For Shapiro, seeing as the artifact is an effect of the social, it is a worthy object of study in and of itself.
Here then, the study of a popular cultural artifact is understood already as the study of a facet of the reality of our own world. There is no need to separate the world presented within the artifact from the world in which we live, for they are both part of the same general text. This latter group includes a diversity of scholars, from Marxist, feminist, and other critical persuasions, who insist that while the myths and unconscious ideologies of fictional universes often serve as silent, sub-textual pillars of the real, gestures of naturalization can also be accompanied by gestures of disruption see Crawfordcited under Bodies, Genders, and Posthumans.
Scholars of the latter group are also especially interested in assessing whether and how cultural artifacts and social life are linked, arguing that empirical work is needed to demonstrate that such linkages actually exist, and that the social habits and passionate subjective investments that make them possible in the first place need to be proven.
General Overviews For some, like Dysonthe purpose of turning to pop culture to explain International Relations IR is primarily pedagogical. Others prefer a more constitutive approach, however, focusing on issues like nationalism and the formation of identity through official discourse.
Indeed, cultural practices have been a focus of IR theory since the earliest published poststructural work in IR see Shapirocited under Methodology. Importantly, however, as Neumann and Nexon argues, such research has recently become more focused on quotidian or day-to-day sites of popular cultural production. For example, Americanisation might be experienced through the pervasiveness of the US TV show Dallas, while modernisation might be experienced through the ubiquity of television in general.
A second dimension of these flows and their consequences is their supposed uniformity, which raises questions of homogenisation and hybridisation.
The spread of English, facilitated by British colonialism and US imperialism, was shaped not only through official political documents and processes but also through popular cultural artefacts, such as the canon of English literature taught in missionary schools.
- Popular culture
At the same time, English colonialism led to the development of heterogeneous forms of Pidgin, Creole and other vernaculars e. Ebonics  around the world.
As these examples indicate, things — capital, technology, development, democracy, popular culture — are assumed to flow from the metropole to the periphery. Relatedly, immigrants bring their foodways with them, ultimately leading to cultural hybrids like chicken tikka masala. Immigrant foodways are often the basis for entrepreneurial activities, such as restaurants and grocery stores — initially supporting the diaspora communities, but, over time, also being frequented by the broader population.
The wider acceptance of the incoming foodways is then linked to the integration of the immigrants, and their cultural practices more broadly, into a more multicultural society Hackett A fourth dimension — the temporality of these flows — can also be problematised through the lens es of popular culture. As Amitav Ghosh wonderfully illustrates, extensive transnational trade relations existed between India and Egypt more than a millennium ago. Trading routes for popular cultural items e. ArtzyLiu Representations, Texts and Intertexts Another form of relations concerns popular cultural representations of world politics.
This matters because media and cultural representations have political effects. Herman and Chomskypp. However, the relationship is much more complex than this correspondence theory of truth allows. Popular cultural texts discursively construct the objects about which they speak Foucault,p.
Anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughodp. While popular cultural constructions are not the only sites in which identities, practices, institutions and objectives are discursively constituted, they are some of the most important. Popular culture is especially significant because we are all immersed in these discourses in our daily lives; they constitute our everyday common sense. Popular cultural representations, moreover, are constructed intertextually. That is, the meanings of any one text depend on their being read in relation to other texts.
And world politics and popular culture are very often read in relation to one another.
So, How Does Popular Culture Relate to World Politics?
While children can watch and enjoy the film Chicken Run without any knowledge of World War Two films, other viewers may make more complicated sense of the narrative and visual representations if they have seen The Great Escapewhich, in turn, itself represents, and can be intertextually interpreted in terms of, the Second World War in diverse ways. Globalisation is constituted in the frontier masculinity of adverts in The Economist Hooper Star Trek represents both the light and the dark sides of US foreign policy Weldes We have written about these and other intertextual relationships extensively elsewhere WeldesRowley a.
It is important to note that this argument is not just about the construction, deployment and effects of stereotypes simplistically understood. Textual meanings are made through much more complex processes, which include the diverse ways in which visual and narrative elements of texts interact Rowley b. One viewer of Rambo: The politics of consumption extends beyond merely acknowledging that popular cultural artefacts are consumed in diverse ways. Consumption is inextricably linked to the production and re-production of meanings — the maintenance of some, the transformation of others whether through subversion, overt challenge or gradual change.
In some cases, these processes of production, challenge and transformation are overtly highlighted. For example, the satirical response  response to an Australia. However, these processes of discursive re-production, maintenance and transformation are always already at work, whether we explicitly reflect on participating in them or not. The music and those who produce and consume it are entangled in complex and transformative processes of meaning- and identity-making.
This discussion of consumption has thus far focused on the consumption of texts. However, consumption as a practice highlights the more general importance of cultural practices. Grocery shopping — a ubiquitous popular cultural practice — is interconnected with all sorts of political discourses and choices, around fair trade, organic produce, luxury, food miles, nutrition, development, value for money and animal welfare to name just a few. Indeed, the involvement of all of us in these relationships has been a tacit theme of all the preceding sections: The Many Facets of the Diamond  The diamond engagement ring links popular culture and world politics in a surprising number of ways.
In this final section, we deploy that ring — an ostensibly frivolous, and highly gendered, symbol of tradition and romance — as a springboard to highlight the intimate and complex interconnections between and among the six PCWP relationships outlined above.
Through this slogan, and massive advertising campaigns built upon it — notably involving radio, television and print media reports about royalty and other celebrities sporting diamond jewellery — De Beers created a popular cultural myth on the basis of which it successfully revitalised US diamond sales, which had been falling dramatically since the Great Depression SullivanEpstein Because of the location of its raw material — the uncut diamond — this cartel, and the trade more generally, is implicated not only in global marketing but also in African politics and particularly in specific forms of African civil and international conflicts.
The Kimberley Process  Certification Scheme — a joint initiative of governments, industry and civil society — established inattempts to regulate uncut diamond production and trade. In particular, the film reproduces the colonialist representation of Africa as relentlessly chaotic, dangerous, backward, etc. In contrast, and while simultaneously encouraging licit diamond consumption, West deliberately draws attention to the complicity of US blood diamond consumers himself includedlinking their purchases with conflict in Africa.
Interestingly, in a striking example of intertextuality, films such as Blood Diamond now provide the interpretive frame used by Western news media to discuss these issues Sharma Intertextuality similarly defines Diamonds are Forever, the film, part of the globally successful Cold War franchise, in which British spy James Bond simultaneously combats South African diamond smuggling and an interconnected global nuclear threat.
On the one hand they represent the diamond ring as a quintessential symbol of heterosexual romantic love and eternal attachment.
On the other, however, women gain financial security from their expensive jewellery and sometimes have a more reliable relationship with the trustworthy jewel lery Capon Finally, the diamond and jewellery more generally regularly appears in state diplomacy, perhaps most notably in the UK.
However, as we have already noted, problematising world politics by highlighting popular culture, while challenging world politics, also continues to privilege it, to reinforce its status.
We hope for the day when we no longer need to explain or justify how and why popular culture is relevant to world politics and can just get on with studying it. The massive analytical cost that comes with simplifying reducing the complexity of the world, of people, of processes and practices, has all too frequently been understated, ignored or denied in the pursuit of abstract models, laws and patterns.
This distinction, while problematic, is useful for our argument. BeaversRuane and JamesDaviesWeber but these are sadly beyond the scope of this article.