Popular Culture(s)

The Research Group

What is popular culture? (How) does it differ from modern mass culture, pre-modern folk culture, and the culture of daily life? And what about the distinction between popular and élite culture(s)? What is popular culture? What makes a cultural object popular? How is cultural popularity defined and what is it based on? (How) does popular culture differ from modern mass culture, pre-modern folk culture, and the culture of daily life? Is it the culture of the "lower class(es)" as opposed to a supposedly representative élite culture monopolised by the ruling class, which may even be subverted by the former as a kind of subculture? In fact, the antithesis between popular "folk culture" and a bourgeois "high culture" ascribed to the élite, which frequently implies a presumption of mutual exclusiveness, can hardly be maintained, neither for the past nor for the present. Such labels are often assigned as a result of a conscious effort on the part of a self-confident intellectual "élite" to distinguish itself. The popular component of culture is rather more complex, and the boundaries between "popular" und "élite" elements are blurred.


The RG Popular Culture(s) deals with historical and contemporary expressions of popular and folk culture from an interdisciplinary perspective. Transcending disciplinary boundaries and fostering networking and collaboration on the research topic of "popular culture", it seeks to develop a new approach to the subject as well as expand and refine theories on popular culture.

Above all, we are interested in the interrelationship between elements defined as popular and non-popular in culture, language, literature, music and art as well as in science and society. Popular and erudite speech, colloquial and standard language, electronic and pop music, popular fiction and literary classics, academic research and popular science are suitable examples. Who are the agents and recipients of popular culture? What are the representative functions and effects of the popular? What messages, cultural identities, values, ideas and ideologies are expressed, understood, and shaped? How does popular culture affect social interaction? What are the intellectual discourses, the political concepts, and the structures of social power and hegemony behind the contingent construction of certain texts, objects, or activities considered to be popular?



  • Michael Bies


    Michael Bies
    German Literature
    Freie Universität Berlin
    Michael Bies more
  • Rebekka Voß

    Rebekka Voß
    Jewish Studies
    Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
    Rebekka Voß more
  • Caspar Battegay

    Caspar Battegay
    German Literature and Jewish Studies
    Universität Basel
    Caspar Battegay more
  • Evelyn Runge

    Evelyn Runge
    Political Science / Media and Cultural Studies / Journalism / Photography
    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)
    Evelyn Runge more
  • Silja Klepp

    Silja Klepp
    Ethnology, Human Geography
    Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
    Silja Klepp more
  • Daniel Chappell

    Daniel Chappell
    Klinikum der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
    Daniel Chappell more
  • Katharina Heyden

    Katharina Heyden
    Evangelical Theology
    Universität Bern (Schweiz)
    Katharina Heyden more
  • Gordon Kampe

    Gordon Kampe
    Music Science / Composing
    Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg
    Gordon Kampe more
  • Bernhard Herbordt Melanie Mohren

    Bernhard Herbordt Melanie Mohren
    Bernhard Herbordt Melanie Mohren more
  • Lena Henningsen

    Lena Henningsen
    Chinese Studies
    Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
    Lena Henningsen more
  • Sebastian Matzner

    Sebastian Matzner
    Classics/Comparative Literature
    King’s College London (UK)
    Sebastian Matzner more
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