chapter
Introduction
Understanding celebrity society
WithRobert van Krieken
Pages 26

The concept of ‘celebrity society’ is intended to be something of a sociological antidote to that inclination, since, as Anthony Elliott has stressed, it is important to approach celebrity as ‘a political, institutionalized phenomenon’. Celebrity is about being highly visible to a broader public and possessing the capacity to attract relatively large amounts of attention, which can in turn be transformed into other kinds of ‘capital’ – esteem, status, wealth, influence, perhaps even power. Celebrity should not be understood as distinct from ‘real’ achievement, so that one is either a hero or a celebrity. The fact that celebrities are the focus of the attention of large numbers of people and are inherently the product of mass recognition raises the question of how celebrity relates to the problem of recognition in contemporary social life as it has been understood in social theory more broadly.