Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility

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Using examples from the first celebrity fan magazines of 1911 to the present, Celebrity Culture and the American Dream considers how major economic and historical factors shaped the nature of celebrity culture as we know it today. Equally important, the book explains how and why the story of Hollywood celebrities matters, sociologically speaking, to an understanding of American society, to the changing nature of the American Dream, and to the relation between class and culture. This book:

  • Explores the relationship between celebrity culture, consumption, class, and social mobility
  • Discusses social changes pertaining to class, gender, marriage and divorce, and race
  • Includes numerous pictures from fan magazine articles and ads
  • Examines the connections between celebrity culture and economic, political, and social changes
  • Considers the importance of the structure of the entertainment industry to understand how celebrity culture is manufactured
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Students will find this book (infused with history, sociology, communication, as well as gender and cultural studies methods) both accessible and engaging. Sternheimer’s descriptions and arguments lend themselves to lively discussion about the evolution of celebrity and what that meant then and now for American society more broadly.

-Sarah K. Fields, Communication, University of Colorado, Denver

The new edition of Karen Sternheimer's groundbreaking text could not arrive at a more opportune time. As outrage over economic inequality in the wake of the global credit crisis is reaching a fever pitch, Celebrity Culture and the American Dream makes an invaluable contribution to the critical debate. This deftly written book is certain to have an enduring impact across a wide-range of academic disciplines and fields.

-Christopher H. Smith, Co-Director, Media, Economics & Entrepreneurship Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California

By demonstrating the ways in which social changes are ideologically represented in ads and popular culture magazines, Sternheimer demystifies the workings of what has become a central institution in contemporary American society. This is a must read for serious scholars of celebrity culture, yes accessible for readers at all levels.

-Christopher T. Conner, Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Karen Sternheimer offers an engaging social history addressing the intersectional relationship between stardom, social mobility, gender and consumerism. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the American fascination with celebrity. She describes how spectators collude with fantasies of fame and fortune, to play an active role in spreading celebrity culture and its uniquely gendered myths.

-Mia Mask, Film, Vassar College

Karen Sternheimer's adept sociology of celebrity makes critically important issues lucid for a wide readership. With its broad historical scope and up to the minute examples, this is an excellent classroom resource.

-Diane Negra, Film Studies and Screen Culture, University College Dublin, and Co-Editor, In the Limelight and Under the Microscope: Forms and Functions of Female Celebrity

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415886796
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 1/20/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,156,088
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Sternheimer teaches in the sociology department at the University of Southern California, where she is a faculty fellow at the Center for Excellence in Teaching. She is the author of Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture: Why Media is not the Answer (Westview Press, 2010), Kids These Days: Facts and Fictions About Today’s Youth (Rowman and Littlefield, 2006) and It’s Not the Media: The Truth About Pop Culture’s Influence on Children (Westview Press, 2003). Sternheimer is also the editor of Childhood in American Society: A Course Reader (Allyn and Bacon, 2009), and Everyday Sociology Reader (W.W. Norton, 2010). She is the lead writer and editor for www.everydaysociologyblog.com, a blog widely read by undergraduate students and general audiences.

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Table of Contents

1. The American Dream: Celebrity, Class, and Social Mobility 2. Beyond Subsistence: The Rise of the Middle Class in the Twentieth Century 3.Prosperity and Wealth Arrive: Boom Times and Women’s Suffrage in the 1920s 4. Pull Yourself up by Your Bootstraps: Personal Failure and the Great Depression 5. We’re All in This Together: Collectivism and World War II 6. Suburban Utopia: The Postwar Middle Class Fantasy 7. Is That All There Is? :Challenging the Suburban Fantasy in the Sixties and Seventies 8. Massive Wealth as Moral Reward: The Reagan Revolution and Individualism 9. Success Just for Being You: Opportunity in the Internet Age

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