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From the same journal

Interpreting and Reinterpreting the Political Significance of Popular Media: The Importance of Seeing from a Range of Perspectives

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Publication details

JournalPolitical Studies
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Nov 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 5 Apr 2017
DatePublished (current) - 1 Dec 2017
Issue number4
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)930-946
Early online date5/04/17
Original languageEnglish


Studies of popular culture have elucidated important insights about the extent to which politics is constructed by entertainment media. Nevertheless, I contend that when it comes to studies of security discourses in entertainment, researchers are too preoccupied with categorising texts as either ‘critical’ or ‘affirmative’, depending on whether they seem to support or challenge militarism. I argue that work on popular culture should be more attentive to the polysemic character of texts – that is, their openness to multiple readings. From this perspective, studies which are directed at finding critical or affirmative meaning are valuable, but they only uncover a narrow range of the possible interpretations texts may receive. I substantiate this with examples of ostensibly critical films which have been appropriated into military culture and ostensibly affirmative videogames which include critical themes. Giving greater attention to polysemy broadens research possibilities, especially when it comes to identifying how popular media are politically meaningful.

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© The Author(s) 2017. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

    Research areas

  • entertainment, film, popular culture, security, videogames

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