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Learn popular culture with online courses and programs

Pop culture is a vibrant and multifaceted tapestry that reflects the ongoing dialogue between a society and its members, capturing the spirit of the times. Learn about popular culture with online courses delivered through edX.

What is popular culture?

Popular culture, often abbreviated as “pop culture,” encompasses the ideas, trends, beliefs, images, and phenomena that hold sway in a society at a given moment. It is the cultural landscape of the masses, reflecting the prevailing tastes, values, and interests of the mainstream population. Popular culture is dynamic and ever-evolving, influenced by a complex interplay of factors including technology, politics, economics, and social dynamics.

At its core, popular culture is a mirror that reflects the collective consciousness of a society. It encompasses a wide range of elements, from music, fashion, and film to television, literature, and internet memes. These cultural artifacts not only entertain but also shape people’s identities and sense of belonging. They can be vehicles for social commentary, political expression, and cultural critique.

Popular culture provides a shared language and reference points, fostering connections among people who might otherwise have little in common. 

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Popular culture course curriculum

Courses about popular culture can cover a wide range of topics, from fashion trends to internet memes to Hollywood. Topics that you may cover in a pop culture class include:

  • History of popular culture: Understand the historical development of popular culture, including its roots, evolution, and major milestones.

  • Media analysis: Analyze different forms of media, such as movies, television shows, music, advertising, and social media, to explore how they shape and reflect popular culture.

  • Cultural theory: Examine key theories and frameworks for analyzing popular culture, including concepts like cultural hegemony, globalization, and cultural appropriation.

  • Subcultures: Explore various subcultures and their role in popular culture, from punk and hip-hop to gaming and cosplay.

  • Consumer culture: Investigate the relationship between popular culture and consumerism, including the impact of advertising and consumer trends.

  • Cultural trends: Identify and analyze current trends in popular culture, such as meme culture, viral marketing, and online communities.

  • Gender and race in popular culture: Analyze the portrayal and representation of gender, race, and ethnicity in media and how it relates to cultural norms and stereotypes.

  • Popular culture and technology: Investigate the role of technology, especially the internet and social media, in shaping and disseminating popular culture.

  • Cultural critique: Reflect on the positive and negative aspects of popular culture and its impact on society.

Learning about popular culture can supplement your knowledge of culture or media studies. edX offers a variety of educational opportunities for learners interested in studying these topics, as well as a host of other disciplines. A boot camp can provide flexible hands-on learning for those who want to upskill quickly, while executive education courses are designed for busy professionals. You can also pursue a more comprehensive curriculum in a bachelor’s degree program or, for more advanced learners, a master’s degree program. Find the right learning path for you.

Explore popular culture jobs

Exploring popular culture can open up a range of opportunities in fields that involve media, entertainment, communication, or cultural analysis. Some of these roles can include:

  • Media critic: Writes reviews, articles, and essays analyzing various aspects of popular culture, such as films, TV shows, music, or literature.

  • Content creator or influencer: Creates and shares content related to trends, reviews, or commentary.

  • Cultural researcher or sociologist: Works in academia or as a consultant and studies how popular culture influences and reflects societal trends, behaviors, and norms.

  • Public relations specialist: Promotes brands, products, or public figures by leveraging a knowledge of current trends and cultural sensitivities.

Are you ready to grow your knowledge in this field? Start your learning journey with courses delivered through edX.