Not so long ago, upper class essayists were functioning as social analysts of the society they lived in by analyzing their favorite belles lettres—usually written by equally upper class authors. Recently we have conceived the idea that in order to understand society one had to analyze the patterns of behavior engaged in by most people, and the popular art forms that they chose and rejected; in short, that in social analysis as in politics, one had to consider the decisions of the many, and not only of the wise few. Harold Rosenberg’s determined and stimulating argument for an end to the study of popular culture in the Winter 1958 DISSENT suggests the hair-raising possibility that the pendulum is beginning to swing back.
Mr. Rosenberg exaggerates the amount of study being devoted to popular culture in the serious literary magazines or among social researchers. The Reuel Denney-Mary Lea Meyersohn “Bibliography of 200 Studies of Leisure” in the American J...
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