For the most recent issue of Contexts (Spring 2010), our culture editor David Grazian sat down with journalist and novelist Chuck Klosterman to discuss pop culture from a sociological standpoint. While this is not the traditional type of article for classroom use, we believe it could spark a good discussion among students about sociological understandings of popular culture in their own worlds. This activity would be particularly useful in a Media and Culture class or an Intro class.
For this activity, students should either read the edited exchange “Glam Metal and Guilty Pleasures: Sailing Away with Chuck Klosterman and David Grazian” or listen to segments of the interview (Part 1 & Part 2) online.
With their new sociological outlook on popular culture, have the students pick a facet of pop culture or a cultural phenomenon that is of sociological interest and that they are particularly interested in (e.g. Lady Gaga’s latest video, The Biggest Loser, pop-country music, America’s Next Top Model, video games, American Idol, Jersey Shore, Glee, Twitter, celebrities’ extra-marital affairs, and the list goes on…). You can give students latitude in choosing which element of pop culture to explore. Then, have them interview at least one person they know (friend, roommate, sibling, parent, etc.) about their chosen cultural phenomenon. Students could then write a reflection of the interview or share what took place during the interview in groups during class.