In this work, Storey attempts to explain the several ways that popular culture can ultimately be defined and described. Throughout the chapter he presents multiple ways popular culture can be defined, and why there is difficulty settling on just one definition.
The meaning of the phrase “popular culture” can be contextualized and interpreted in many different depending on the person describing it and their ideologies. Storey begins the chapter by stating that popular culture “is an empty conceptual category” which can be filled using many different ways or ideas since there are so many ways one can interpret what it really means.
The first description Storey presents is that popular culture means “widely favored or well-liked by many people”. This may be the simplest of definitions. This can be measured by things like “number of records sold”. Definitely a more quantitative approach to the phrase, though this description may be too broad. As Storey continues the chapter, he presents more in-depth definitions of pop culture.
Storey’s next example (which I believe to be one of the most relevant) describes popular culture as “culture that is left over after we have decided what is high culture”. This is referring to the more favorable items of a specific culture that are more popularized than other less favorable pieces of culture. A good example would be Japanese culture in the United States, specifically anime and sushi, which are undoubtedly some of the most popular forms of Japanese culture in the west. But these pieces of culture became popular due to it being widely considered as “high culture” or “more favorable” compared to other forms of Japanese culture to a general audience/consumer. Another way he describes this is that popular culture comes from “the people” and is “chosen” by “the people”, which also eliminates the approach that describes popular culture as being imposed onto the people.
Describing popular culture as “mass culture” does infer that the popular culture is imposed onto “the people”. This can also be described as commercial culture in which the culture is mass-produced for mass-consumption. A good example of this would be fast food commercials popularizing fast food in the past, though this approach has become less and less dominant in the present day. This describes a pop culture as formulaic and manipulative while also requiring passivity. This is a more bleak view on pop culture, but as Storey describes, it is not the most dominant definition of pop culture, at least anymore. Another way to describe this would be using hegemony, where a dominant person or group can popularize something easily through winning the consent of the passive or subordinate groups.
An incredibly recent example of something becoming popular culture would be the Netflix documentary series Tiger King, which over the past handful of days has become one of the most discussed and watched pieces of media as of recent. Almost everyone I had talked to after the release of this series has recommended it to me or others, spreading this medium rapidly.