Popular Communication After Globalization


concerning this article should be addressed to Joshua Gunn, Department of Communication Studies, Louisiana State University, 136 Coates Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803; email: jgunn@lsu.edu.


The study of popular communication is carried out in many disciplines and many sites. It is often haunted by anxieties over high culture versus low culture and authenticity versus commercialization. Rejecting those binaries in favor of the dominance of the latter term in each, this article initially defines popular communication as objects widely circulated by mass media, texts to which people are widely exposed. Such texts are themselves commodities, and the meanings the texts facilitate are key. Scholars of popular communication usually espouse a leftist political agenda. They focus on signs that reveal processes in social or psychological experience, although some studies focus more on forms of discourse. The article proposes that studies in popular communication may be distinguished by whether they focus on rhetor, text, or audience. It concludes by urging a stance of critical populism, more popular involvement by scholars, and a greater understanding of erotics, or desire, in our work.