Popular culture and public order : an empirical investigation into socio-cultural relationships in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne
This thesis is about the relationship between popular cultures and public order. Although it is located in a particular setting for good sound empirical reasons, the analysis could just as easily have been about any urban setting. I chose the words public order since they seemed to describe best the process by which urban public space has come to carry a vocabulary or rules and expectations which the inhabitants are supposed to acknowledge in their routine everyday encounters and interactions. What I have tried to illustrate is that the orderliness of public life is permeated with specific assumptions about how people should behave in public; about what is considered to be respectable, moral, decent, profane or depraved. I therefore take as a starting point the fact that the assumptions which underlie public order are not the product of society 'per se' but of specific social groups such as architects, planners and politicians. The assumptions which lie behind public order are, of course, ideological and quite clearly fused with political strategies designed to elicit a "civilised" and "cultured" population. Consequently, if urban "civilization" was founded on the belief that the good, moral, order was shaped by the physical setting or environment then Culture came to describe the process through which people had to pass in order to enter the terrain of the cultivated. From the perspective of the sociology of culture the word "culture" is an analytical metaphor for understanding social process: for describing, delineating, and interpreting what it is that people actually do when they communicate to one another. Seen this way popular culture implies culture "of the people" and "by the people" but definitely not "for the people". Popular culture, then, is the. process by which people themselves construct social space and thereby imprint meaning, purpose, value, etc., on actions, symbols and intentions.