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Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman 2ed

by Paul du Gay, Stuart Hall, Linda Janes, Anders Koed Madsen, Hugh Mackay and Keith Negus SAGE Publications Ltd
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Pbk 208 pages
AU$79.00 NZ$81.74
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What does the Walkman have to do with the 21st century? The long-awaited second edition of this classic textbook takes students on a journey to the past and back again, giving them to skills do to cultural analysis along the way. Through the 'circuit of culture', this book teaches students to critically examine what culture means, and how and why it is enmeshed with the media texts and objects in their lives. Students will:

• gain practical experience with the historical comparative method

• learn to think about some of the cultural conundrums of the present

• unpack the key concepts of contemporary culture, such as mobility and materiality

• look with fresh eyes at the media world and their practice within it

• practice their critical skills with up-to-date exercises and activities.

This book remains the perfect 'how to' for cultural studies. It is an essential classic, reworked for today's students in cultural studies, media studies and sociology.

What is 'culture'?
Back to the future: Materiality and Culture
Meanings and practices
Meaning by association: semantic networks
Back to the future: Meanings and Associations
Signifying practices
Contemporary soundscapes
Back to the future: Produsage: The changing relationship between production and consumption?
Culture in the age of electronic reproduction
Back to the future - Benjamin v/2.0
Back to the future: Mobile Privatization?
Walk-men and Walk-women: subjects and identities
Back to the future: Advertizing and branding
Introduction: the many origins of an idea
Cultures of production, contexts of innovation
Heroic individuals
Back to the future: Technological innovation, heroic individuals and distributed agency
Sony, Japan and the United States
Sony: signifying 'Japan'?
Happy accidents at work: enter the Walkman
making the Walkman to sell: connecting production and consumption
Assembling for the young consumer: the mothers of the invention
Naming the machine: Sony grammar
Marketing and public relations
Back to the future: Promotional culture
Monitoring consumption and market research
Back to the future: Produsage revisited
Designers as cultural intermediaries
The organization of design at Sony
Lifestyling the Walkman
Back to the future: The power of Software: Culture made malleable?
The Walkman: how 'Japanese' is it?
Following the Walkman: competition and financial crisis
Sony goes global and local
Back to the future: The global-local nexus
Combining hardware and software: the culture industry
Back to the future: Synergies & cultural industries
Perspectives on consumption
Back to the future: Perspectives on consumption
Back to the future: Authenticity
The production of consumption
The Walkman and the production of consumption critique
Back to the future: ''Revolutionary'' technologies?
Back to the future: Optimism and pessimism in relation to web 2.0
Back to the future: No sense of place?
Consumption as socio-cultural differentiation
Walkman consumption and social differentiation
Consumption as appropriation and resistance
The Walkman and questions of cultural regulation
The Walkman: the public and the private
Walkman use and the blurring of boundaries
Back to the future: Cultural regulation of modern technologies
Summary of chapters 5 and 6
Reading A: Bruno Latour: 'Technology is society made durable'
Reading B: Axel Bruns: 'Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation'
Reading C: Walter Benjamin: 'The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction'
Reading D: Raymond Williams: 'Mobile privatization'
Reading E: Ana Andjelic: 'Time to rewrite the brand playbook for the digital'
Reading F: Nick Lyons: 'Scratching a global dream'
Reading G: Shu Ueyama: 'The selling of the ''Walkman'''
Reading H: Thomas A. Harvey: 'How Sony Corporation became first with kids'
Reading I: Lev Manovich: 'There is Only software'
Reading J: Jonathan Zittrain: 'The Personal Computer Is Dead'
Reading K: Rey Chow: 'Listening otherwise, music miniaturized: a different type of question about revolution'
Reading L: Lev Grossman: 'Iran´s protests: Twitter, the Medium of the Movement'
Reading M: Tim O´Reilly: 'What Is Web 2.0'
Reading N: Mirko Tobias Schäfer: 'Bastard Culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production'
Reading O: Lain Chambers: 'A miniature history of the Walkman'
Reading P: Vincent Jackson: 'Menace II society'

Arguably the most famous book in its field, Doing Cultural Studies: the Story of the Sony Walkman is the text that lead to Cultural Studies becoming a respected and accepted discipline throughout the rest of the world.... Any 21st century observer might object and ask, somewhat perplexed, “who owns a Walkman nowadays?”... 16 years after the first edition, the authors can now write in a comparative fashion between two eras: ‘Comparing the cultural practices associated with the Walkman with the practices related to modern Web-based mobile devices reveals both continuities and changes in the ways such technologies have been represented, identified with, produced, consumed and regulated, and the way they have been discussed in the media as well as in academic debates within the cultural and social sciences’ (p. xii).


In theoretical terms, the legacy of Doing Cultural Studies confirms that this classic read is not just about the Walkman itself, but represents a series of clear observations about the symbolic meanings of culture... This fundamental reading on Cultural Studies should be read not only by students and scholars in this particular field, but by students in a variety of domains including sociology of culture, political economy of culture, popular music studies, media studies, and marketing. Non-scholars will also be able to follow it and appreciate its numerous ideas. Most importantly, those who read this book’s first edition many years ago must read this enriched second edition as it remains timely and relevant for today, in its accurate understanding of how we, collectively, identify and consume culture. The now forgone era of the Walkman serves as a useful comparison about how some things seem to change or can remain the same in subtle ways. That is what academic books are made for.

Read the full review here
Paul du Gay Copenhagen Business School

Stuart Hall The Open University and Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK

Linda Janes The Open University

Anders Koed Madsen Copenhagen Business School

Hugh Mackay The Open University

Keith Negus Goldsmiths College, University of London