The New Religion Pop Culture

The New Religion: Pop Culture

Aims and Objectives Summary

The dissertation will explore and demonstrate the transformation and recreation of pop culture, with emphasis on current pop music and pop video.

The way of life of society has transformed in time as a result of new beliefs, new ideas and new symbols. Any ‘religion’ stopped expanding and even existing as a direct consequence of its inability to recreate itself and give new meaning to old symbols and signs for the continually ‘converting’ society. The pop culture, by it’s nature, recreates popular archetypes that are deep inoculated in the psychology of humanity as sex, religion, death, war, politics, etc. Through it’s continual transformation and recreation of style the pop culture is becoming the perfect manipulative and dominating way of life. Is the pop culture transforming in an always present, contemporary way of life, the new religion that recreates it’s artistic expression in order to expand and grow? This is the research question around which this research is based.

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The main aim of this dissertation is to identify and explain the recreation of symbols and themes in today’s pop music and pop video and to show the influence of this transition from ‘occasional believer’ to ‘fanatic’ in today’s society. In order to accomplish this aim the following objectives need to be analysed and discussed:

Analysis of old and new symbols in pop music and pop videos (signs and symbols take place of reality – hyper reality )

The birth of pop culture and it’s evolution

The continuous recreation of style in pop culture (sexuality without gender, religious representations as show, death as artistic expression of freedom)

The impact of pop culture on society as the perfect religion

Artists (expression creators) in pop music culture : Madonna, Lady Gaga (the use of symbols as strategic components in the Fame experiment; symbols with no meaning as surface style)

The analysis of these objectives will also demonstrate that reinventions of universal archetypal subjects are essential for the consumerism mass-media. Pop music is an important part of mass-media which has a huge impact on population. Pop culture creates the future society; a society that religiously consume media just for it’s own personal satisfaction.

Culture is a way of life and culture exists everywhere because is created by our choices. The pop culture is defined by mass-production, mass-consumerism, choice manipulation and reinforcement and recreation of symbols in order to grow and expand. This dissertation will also demonstrate how pop music, pop videos and popular performances are influencing our choices by repeatedly representing popular brands and by touching on the most primal subjects we all can relate to.

Brief Example and Review of two relevant texts

Living to tell: Madonna’s Resurrection of the Fleshly is the name of Chapter 7 from Susan McClary’s book Feminine Endings: Music, Gender and Sexuality. This Chapter analyse and debates the influence of pop artist Madonna to pop music as well as her artistic expression, main themes and symbols. For example themes as survival, pleasure, sexual transformation, resistance to closure, etc. are deeply analyzed.

“The central dichotomy she inevitably invokes is that of the virgin and the whore. Her name, her apparently casual flaunting of crucifixes and rosaries as accessories, and her overtly erotic dress and behaviour have consistently thrown into confusion the terms of that standard binary opposition; but what precisely she means by this play of signs has never been obvious. Indeed, many critics have taken her use of religious imagery to be a prime example of what Frederic Jameson calls “blank pastiche�: the symbols are seen as detached from their traditional contexts and thus as ceasing to signify.� (Feminine Endings, pg 163)

The aforestated passage is very important in achieving the ‘Artists in pop music culture’, ‘Analysis of old and new symbols in pop music and pop videos’ and ‘The continuous recreation of style in pop culture’ objectives as is not limited to analyzing the symbols and signs but also, based on this symbols transformation, supports the idea of symbols with no meaning as surface style and religious representations as show.

Another relevant text is “It’s like feminism, but you don’t have to burn your bra’: Girl power and the Spice Girls’ breakthrough 1996-1997 which is Chapter 10 in Andrew Blake’s book Living Through Pop. This Chapter presents, analyse and debates the evolution and transformations in pop music culture, as well the themes and symbols used by pop music group Spice Girls.

“We decided we wanted to be more than a band. We wanted the whole philosophy of the Spice Girls to be like a cult – Girl Power. We haven’t invented it – we’ve just tapped into how girls are feeling. It’s like feminism, but you don’t have to burn your bra. And the message is: ’You can do what you want – look the way you want – as long as you believe in yourself.’ � (Living through pop, pg 163)

“Madonna is constructed as a fetishistic icon serving by contrast to point up the notion that the Spice Girls are basically ordinary and therefore can be emulated. Although Madonna, like the Spice Girls articulates a form of sexual empowerment for women, in many ways Madonna’s pop persona works very differently. Both Spice Girls and Madonna play with the dichotomy between one-dimensional images of femininity and the sense of a producing presence behind them, but with different results� (Living through pop, pg 166)

These passages are serving as relevant data evidence for most of the dissertation objectives.

Research Strategy

The research question is a practicable question which can be answered during the dissertation allocated time-scale by using the research resources and academic knowledge of my course.

The research will largely use the qualitative research approach. This research approach constructs and supports the dissertation that explores and analyse the transformation of style in popular culture. The main benefit of this research approach is it’s depth of exploration and understanding of the phenomena. For this research several types of qualitative research are needed:

Antipositivism – The research concentrates on pop cultural transformation, values, symbols and social processes viewed from a subjective perspective (non-scientific)

Critical Analysis – The research will critically analyse the pop culture transformations and their media social impact

Interpretivism – The main purpose of interpretivism is that the whole subject needs to be examined in order to understand the phenomena. The dissertation will examine the evolution of pop culture from it’s birth to present times focusing on representations (signs, symbols, artistic performances and expression)

Research methodology

The data needed for the dissertation will be collected using the following methods:

Historical gathering

Is defined as a “Systematic collection and objective evaluation of data related to past occurrences in order to test hypotheses concerning causes, effects, or trends of these events that may help to explain present events and anticipate future events.� (Gay, 1996)

This research method is fundamental for my dissertation because it’s the primary way of collecting data for several dissertation objectives (The birth of pop culture and it’s evolution; Analysis of old and new symbols in pop music and pop videos).

Case Study

It is based on an in-depth investigation and analysis of a single entity by collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results. The research needs the simultaneously use of both case study types- descriptive and explanatory.

The following pop music-videos case studies focusing on style, themes and symbols will support the achievement of the research objectives: Madonna – Music/American Life; Lady Gaga – Telephone; Madonna – Vogue/Like a Prayer and Lady Gaga – Alejandro.

Media ethnography

This research method is needed in order to define how pop music has influenced behaviour and society. A relevant media ethnographic research has been conducted by Paul Willis – Symbolism and Practice: A Theory for the Social Meaning of Pop Music where he investigates the relationship between media and audiences and how pop music influenced young people in Britain.


“Validity is concerned with whether the findings are ‘really’ about what they appear to be about (Robson, 2002:93)�

The issue of validity is addressed in this research using triangulation. Triangulation involves the use of multiple sources to enhance the rigour of the research (Robson, 2002:174). This research also uses data triangulation, the use of more than one method of data collection.

Ethical Research

The research will follow the Professional ethical guideline and strive to protect the rights, privacy, dignity of those that are referred in this research, personal information will be treated confidentially and any information will be ethically used. Robson (2002:203) highlights the political issues involved with any research, for example, whose interests the research is serving. The sole purpose of this research is the completion of an Undergraduate level dissertation and is not being undertaken to serve any other interests.

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